Return to Headlines

St. Bernard Parish Public School System Kicks Off the School Year with Gratitude


Media Contact: Alexis Pritchard

Date: 08/05/2022

Phone: 504-301-2000


St. Bernard Parish Public School System Kicks Off the School Year with Gratitude

Chalmette, LA - With a focus on gratitude, the St. Bernard Parish Public School System kicked off the school year with its recent Back-to-School Rally. Held each year at the Fred Sigur Civic Center, the rally brought together over 900 of the district’s employees for this traditional welcome ceremony and pep rally.

Following a rousing rendition of the National Anthem sung by educators from across the district, Superintendent Doris Voitier got things started with her welcoming remarks.

“It brings me great joy to welcome you all back as we look ahead to the new year,” she said. “The last two years had us dealing with unparalleled challenges, uncertainty, and obstacles — but as a school community, we came together to do what we school people always do — provide the very best educational experiences for the children we teach.”

School Board President Clifford Englande also addressed the assembly, stressing the importance of teamwork.

“We know a new school year will bring change and challenges, but we also know our greatest strength is in our commitment to each other,” said Englande. “And like any goal, the best way to achieve it is as a cohesive team united in purpose. And over the years, that has truly been a strength of this board.” 

Following Englande’s remarks, each member of the Board expressed gratitude, ranging from the safety of the schools to all of the people in them. 

Employees who maintained perfect attendance last year were also acknowledged for their daily commitment. 

Voitier used her time on stage to talk about the district’s updated crisis plan to manage emergency situations and threats. 

“We are one of the first districts in the state and likely the nation to develop a series of multi-faceted and comprehensive emergency operations plans for each school and a Continuity of Operations Plan for the district,” said Voitier.

She then referenced another growing crisis in education — literacy. Citing nearly a third of K-3 students nationwide are reading below grade level, Voitier shared some of the strategies the district has implemented to combat this challenge. 

“This year, we will identify K-3 students who score below grade level on the literacy indicator and provide at-home literacy activities to those families in support of our efforts,” she said. “We will also continue with school-supported interventions to aid student literacy proficiency.”

Voitier also cited the comprehensive professional development in foundational literacy that K-3 teachers will complete in the Science of Reading as well as the importance of parental involvement. 

As it does each year, the program also included a number of light-hearted videos, stressing the day’s theme of gratitude. Parodies ranged from Encanto to the Beatles to Earth Wind and Fire and Sly and the Family Stone. 

There was also a video paying tribute to Chalmette High School teacher Justin Templet, who was named the 2023 Louisiana High School Teacher of the Year. Voitier commended him on his commitment in and out of the classroom.

“An alumni of our school system and a former valedictorian at CHS, Justin is a true example of giving back,” she said. “His passion for connecting with his students has made a difference in countless lives both in the classroom and throughout our region.”

The hour-long program also included principals and assistant principals of the schools thanking its teachers and staff in a unique way — through song and dance.

Voitier then acknowledged several life-long educators, who like Voitier, have served in the district for over 50 years. Those recognized included Wayne Warner, Carole Mundt, and Tom Dugger from Chalmette High School as well as Supervisors Lee Anne Harlton and Tommie Powell. 

Voitier closed the program with an encouraging message.

“Yes, our students can participate in clubs and other enrichment activities. Yes, our teachers and coaches can lead their clubs and teams. Yes, we can host a back-to-school night. And yes, as colleagues we can come together for our annual kick celebration in person,” she said. “I hope these yeses are the first of many to follow because finding gratitude is really about the power of saying yes.” 

#  #  #  #  #  #