Hands-on expertise nets DHS prestigious award

Destrehan High School students are being prepared for their future more than ever before, with unique classes that teach them to design blueprints, create videos and weld at a level that would qualify them for a job right out of school.

And others are starting to take notice.

DHS was one of only 20 schools honored with a Silver Award for applied learning from the Southern Regional Education Board. The award recognizes schools that provide their students with a curriculum that is rich in hands-on, applied learning skills that are necessary to be successful in the 21st century economy.

“The students are exposed to hands-on learning in all vocational classes, during which time they work with the most up-to-date materials,” Shannon Diodene, the staff development coordinator at Destrehan, said.

Diodene said that the drafting class uses Autocad to design blueprints, the advanced woods class creates projects that can be used throughout the school and community, and those in TV production and Web design create videos and Web pages that are used for the school.

“The career and technical courses are preparing the students for their post-secondary lives, whether it be college, vocational-tech school or a job,” Diodene said.

As part of its efforts to achieve the goals outlined by Louisiana’s High School Redesign initiative, Destrehan also applied for, and received, state funding for its 9th grade initiative.

Over the last two years, $120,000 has been secured and has allowed the school to revise and implement strategies that make it easier for students to transition from 8th to 9th grade.

One of those strategies was freshmen fun nights, where hundreds of students came to the freshman hallway in the evenings to play games with their teachers and peers.

Another was freshmen sports nights, where the students were invited to attend a football, basketball and baseball game to show support of their school and have fun with their friends.

“We also have a parent networking session during which time the parents met with some freshman teachers, administrators, the counselor and librarians,” Diodene said. “During this time the parents were shown various resources including search engines and LAePortal, and were given the opportunity to network with other freshman parents.”

The school also started a program called “Freshman Kick-Off,” where upper-classmen act as mentors for the freshmen.
“Each freshman will have at least one upperclassman and teacher mentor that they can go to throughout the year,”

Diodene said. “The students’ mentors will help facilitate our freshman advisory classes next year.”

Destrehan is also one of 83 Louisiana high schools that participate in the state’s Senior Project Program. The program provides high school juniors and seniors with an opportunity to select a challenging topic, write a substantial research paper on the subject and make a formal presentation. This allows students to do significant research on a topic they are interested in as their career.

“We wish to congratulate the Destrehan High School community as well as district leaders for this esteemed honor,” State Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek said. “Destrehan has effectively and consistently embraced these necessary reforms, and no doubt, the effort will pay off for students who have participated in these enriched activities.”


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