High school students grill panel of parish leaders
Students ask what can be done about drugs in schools, speeding teens and say they need a place to just ‘hang out’
Parish President V.J. St. Pierre, Sheriff Greg Champagne, Superintendent Rodney Lafon, Judge Emile St. Pierre, Monsanto Quality Manager Anne Moyer and Arc Executive Director Victoria Bryant fielded questions that students from both schools had written the week before. Nearly 100 students showed up to see just how their questions would get answered.
The hottest topic at the New Generations Forum was drugs and how to control the problem those drugs can cause at school. Lafon said that students have to get involved in the fight against drugs by calling Crime Stoppers and reporting any information they have.
“It has to be a team effort,” he said.
Champagne echoed that, saying that his office does make a lot of arrests based on information they have gotten from students.
“If you know about it, call us and tell us who is doing it,” he said.
E. St. Pierre said that schools reflect society and that drugs are a big problem in our society. To counteract that drug culture, he said that there needs to be more programs to get kids involved in the community.
Another popular question from the students dealt with the fact that there is no place in the parish where they can go to have fun in a safe environment. V.J. St. Pierre said that the question is asked every year, but students have to tell the parish what they want.
“You guys have to give us ideas,” he said. “Every year it’s asked and no one ever comes forward.”
One student said she would like a local place to bowl or play pool, which would save gas money since she would no longer have to drive out of the parish to take part in those activities.
“When I took office, I talked about what we could do for teens here,” V.J. St. Pierre said. “The problem is, bowling alleys and picture shows will only come if there are a certain amount of people within a two mile radius. We are too spread out here and the numbers are not working out.”
Other students wondered what types of jobs were available inside the parish.
“There is a big need for engineers, support staff, electricians and people with business degrees,” Moyer said. “We are fortunate that the parish is one of the best places to work.”
Moyer also pointed to the strength of the process technology program at the Satellite Center, which gives students the opportunity to earn six hours of college credit while in high school. That credit can then be transferred to Louisiana Technical College to use towards the student’s two-year associates’ degree in process technology.
“Some industries hire just from the PTEC program,” Moyer said.
Of course, the status of the levees was also a major topic for students, who wanted to know when levees on both sides of the river will be complete.
“The East Bank levee is 90 percent complete and we have been trying to get a permit for the West Bank levee for 18 years,” V.J. St. Pierre said. “The Corps keeps changing their mind and we are waiting on them to pick an alignment for the West Bank levee. That has been one of my top priorities since taking office.”
And some just wanted to know what could be done to control high school speeders.
“Every year, we increase the number of tickets we issue,” Champagne said. “Last year, we issued between 11,000 to 12,000 tickets. It’s not just teenagers that are speeding - it’s everybody.”
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