News

Westdale’s Madilyn Whitmore selected Louisiana Middle School Student of Year

Westdale Middle School’s Madilyn Nichole Whitmore is the Louisiana Middle School Student of the Year winner! This bilingual excels academically and as a leader in her school student government association, soccer, track, and STEM competition team. Three years ago, concerned for the health of her Goldendoodle pet, this young entrepreneur created a successful dog treat business. Whitmore wants to pursue a career as a biochemist or biomedical engineer after completing studies at either Harvard University, Spelman College, Stanford University or Howard University. “It is the progress, not the perfection,” she said.

– Louisiana Department of Education @la_believes #ebrschools #readingisfun #WeAreEBR

Melrose Elementary student awarded, garners national attention for generosity

A dollar bill has gone a long way and garnered national recognition for one EBR Schools student. Kelvin Ellis was recently featured on the “CBS Evening News” segment “On the Road.” Nine-year-old Kelvin was rewarded after generously giving his only dollar — part of the money he had earned for good grades — to a man he thought was homeless. Congratulations, Kelvin, for your kind and inspiring example.

Click Here to Check Out the Video on CBS News!

Westdale Middle School magnet program, teacher honored 

The Westdale Middle World Language Immersion Magnet program was recognized as the Top Merit Magnet Program of Excellence by Magnet Schools of America, the national association for magnet and theme-based schools. 

Westdale Middle World Language Immersion Magnet is a middle school program serving sixth to eighth grades in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System.

 With a magnet component of World Language Immersion, students are able to study all academic classes in one of three languages: French, Mandarin or Spanish. 

Westdale Middle is also proud to announce Cristina Manzanares Mariscal as the National Magnet Teacher of the Year. In addition to these distinguishments, Mandarin Immersion students of Westdale Middle made history as the first students to present at the National Conference on Magnet Schools. 

Presentation of Top Merit Magnet Program of Excellence Award: 

Westdale was recognized and received the Top Merit Magnet Program of Excellence Award on behalf of the school during an awards ceremony held at the National Conference on Magnet Schools on April 16-19 in New York City. 

To receive a national merit award, members of Magnet Schools of America must submit a detailed application that is scored by a trained panel of readers. These schools are reviewed and awarded points on their demonstrated ability to raise student academic achievement; promote racial and socioeconomic diversity; provide integrated curricula and instruction; and create strong family and community partnerships that enhance the school’s magnet theme. 

To learn more about MSA and the national merit awards program, visit www.magnet.edu. 

28 honored for their role in helping desegregate EBR Schools in 1963-64

Desegregating the East Baton Rouge Parish School System during the 1963-64 school year took courage and sacrifice on the part of 28 Black students and their families.

Sixty years later, those resilient high school students were proudly recognized during Thursday’s School Board meeting for their role in paving the way for a more equitable and just educational system in Baton Rouge.

Nine years after the U.S. Supreme Court declared that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal,” Baton Rouge finally began to integrate four white schools: Baton Rouge High, Glen Oaks, Istrouma and Lee/Liberty.

“We truly appreciate your effort to preserve the history of the desegregation of East Baton Rouge Parish Schools,” said Freya Anderson Rivers, one of 10 students who attended the board meeting. “Sixty years ago, 28 African American students put their lives on the line while sacrificing their senior year of high school, leaving their beloved schools, friends, teachers, clubs, senior trips, proms and all activities of senior fun to stand up for their beliefs, injustice and equality.”

Rivers said students had to fight the injustice of schools being built on a city dump, using discarded books from white schools, unequal pay for Black teachers and much more.

“We endured isolation, name-calling, spitballs, food throwing, pushing, shoving and even fighting,” she said. “Even out of school, we suffered through denigrating, vitriolic phone calls and cross burnings … We fought to change Baton Rouge and destroy Jim Crow. This history, along with much more, must become required readings for our students.”

School Board Vice President Patrick Martin led the recognition for the students, saying they have “proven to be among the best Baton Rouge has ever produced.”

“The courage and leadership they displayed in 1963 and throughout their high school career and the education they were provided by the Baton Rouge School System has led them to successful careers and lives. By my brief research, several have earned Ph.D.s and other advanced degrees,” Martin said. “They are successful dentists, pharmacists, educators, authors, civic leaders and parents.”

The 28 students honored for leading the desegregation efforts:

Baton Rouge High — Betta Bowman, Elaine Boyle Patin, Charles R. Burchell, Elaine Chustz Green, Doretha Davis, Marion Greenup, Irma Harrison Coleman, Velma Jean Hunter Jackson, Betty Jemison Wagner, Sharon LeDuff West, Aurelius Martinez, Clara Patin Deculus, Patricia Wells Witson and Gail Vavasseur Jones.

Glen Oaks High — Grace Henley Birt, Yolanda Laws, Merrill Patin, Winnie Posey Womack, Paula Waller Barino and Carmen Williams-Dwyer.

Istrouma High — Rosia Bowie, Freddie E. Eagles, Gloria Holloway and Rita Guidroz.

Lee High/Liberty High – Freya Anderson Rivers, Murphy Bell, Louis Morgan and Melvin Patrick.

McKinley Elementary teacher receives grant

Kylie Altier, of McKinley Elementary School, has received a grant from the Academic Distinction Fund for her new reading initiative, “Read with Kylie.” The free initiative includes physical kits for students to check out and a website where parents can teach their children the foundational skills of reading. Altier, the 2024 Louisiana Teacher of the Year, walks through every step of a 20-minute low-prep, high-impact nightly home routine that has helped her succeed in her classroom for 11 years and with her own 4-year-old!

Eight Greats Inducted Into the EBRPSS Athletic Hall of Fame

The inaugural East Baton Rouge Parish School System’s Athletic Hall of Fame class is a remarkable group of individuals that sets a high standard for future inductions.

Eight greats — Harvey Adger, Seimone Augustus, Billy Cannon, Bob Pettit, Eddie Robinson, Danielle Scott-Arubba, Ryan Theriot and Doug Williams — were inducted during a special ceremony on May 8 at the Capitol Park Museum.

“The Class of 2024 inductees, you have set the bar very high for the next generations,” said EBR Schools interim Superintendent Adam Smith. “And I want to thank you for all the contributions that you have made, not just on the academic side, because we know that most of our athletes are also great scholars academically.”

“It’s exciting to know that these people came straight from the schools of East Baton Rouge Parish, and that says a lot,” said Sean Joffrion, director of health/physical education and athletics.

Inductees received an award and a signature blue jacket. Joffrion said he plans to have a wall at the Central Office with plaques of the inductees for visitors.

Special thanks to Joffrion, health/physical education supervisors Donnell Hyde, Clarissa Johnson, Lester Ricard and Dr. Greg Thompson, and athletic administrative assistant Kimber Courville.

The East Baton Rouge School System Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2024: 

HARVEY ADGER: The longtime Glen Oaks High School boys basketball coach has 932 career victories. Adger has exemplified dedication, leadership and excellence throughout his more than 40 years coaching in EBR Schools. The Shreveport native excelled academically and athletically in basketball and golf at Southern University. 

SEIMONE AUGUSTUS: The former Capitol High and LSU basketball star was also named to the Naismith Hall of Fame. She was a two-American at LSU and led the Lady Tigers to three consecutive Final Four appearances while also winning the Naismith College Player of the Year and Wooden Awards. In 2006, she was the WNBA’s No. 1 overall pick by Minnesota, leading the Lynx to four WNBA championships. 

BILLY CANNON: A multisport standout in football, basketball and track at Istrouma High School in the mid-1950s, Cannon took his talents to the football field at LSU and eventually the NFL. He was a two-time unanimous All-American at LSU, leading the Tigers to the national championship in 1958. In 1959, he became the school’s first Heisman Trophy, highlighted by an 89-yard punt return in a 7-3 win over Ole Miss on Halloween night in Tiger Stadium.  

BOB PETTIT: After a standout state championship basketball career at Baton Rouge High, Pettit went on to star at LSU and then enjoyed a Hall of Fame NBA career. Pettit is renowned for his time with the Milwaukee/St. Louis Hawks from 1954-1965, where he made history by becoming the first player to surpass 20,000 career points.

EDDIE ROBINSON SR.: The 1937 McKinley High School graduate and legendary Grambling State University coach won 408 victories during a stellar 57-year college coaching career. His Grambling teams won 17 SWAC championships. In 1984, Robinson surpassed Amos Alonzo Stagg and Bear Bryant to become college football’s winningest coach. He earned a bachelor’s from Leland College in Baker and a master’s from Iowa.

DANIELLE SCOTT-ARRUDA: At Woodlawn High, Scott-Arruda displayed her talents in volleyball, basketball, softball and track and field. After starring at the University of California-Long Beach, she joined the USA National Volleyball Team, participated in the Olympics in Atlanta and played professionally in Italy, Brazil, Japan, and more. She is the only indoor player, male or female, to compete in five Olympic Games. 

RYAN THERIOT: After earning all-state honors for three years at Broadmoor High, Theriot continued his baseball journey at LSU and enjoyed 12 seasons in the Major Leagues. He won a national championship at LSU in 2000. Theriot won World Series titles with St. Louis in 2011 and the San Francisco Giants in 2012.  

DOUG WILLIAMS: Excelling in football and basketball at the former Chaneyville High, Williams signed to play quarterback for Eddie Robinson and Grambling. Following a stellar career at Grambling, Williams was the first Black quarterback to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In 1998, Williams led Washington to 42-10 win over Denver in Super Bowl XXII, setting NFL records that included most passing yards and most touchdowns.