Ways of expanding language immersion and STEM opportunities are being considered in the schools of Lafayette Parish in Louisiana. Long known as Schools of Choice, the name and elements of the popular academy program may change in order to provide greater focus on STEM subjects and allow students to become fluent in a language other than English.
The David Thibodaux STEM Magnet Academy has almost 1.200 students in sixth through 12th grades. The school is popular and the district has added 75 slots since last year, according to Superintendent Donald Aguillard. For the next few years, more seats will be added.
“It’s my belief we need to expand our STEM offerings across the board,” said School Board President Dawn Morris.
Morris’s idea is an elementary school that is focused on STEM, and possibly another site for a STEM middle school This would allow David Thibodaux to be totally a high school.
“I think we could justify a 100 percent choice, STEM middle school,” Morris said. “It sounds like we have enough interest. It would be fantastic for us to have a STEM program from pre-K to graduation. I think the system could build on what (David Thibodaux Principal Jeff Debetaz) has done. I think it’s one of our strongest programs.”
In addition to STEM, the language immersion pathway is also popular in Lafayette parish, especially for the study of French. With 1,100 students in French immersion, and fewer than 300 in Spanish and Chinese, the board is considering merging sites and addressing the decline of immersion students after middle school.