Louisiana Day: Students at Southwest Louisiana Charter Academy enjoy day of learning, fun

Published 12:00 pm Saturday, May 11, 2024

Louisiana’s rich history and culture were highlighted at Southwest Louisiana Charter Academy on Friday during the annual Louisiana Day celebration.

Louisiana Day has been hosted by the school regularly since 2012, with the inaugural event being held at SWLA Charter’s former location on Derek Drive.

SWLA Charter Dean of Students Natalie Johnson explained that Louisiana Day has many purposes. Not only do teachers and students get a chance to wind down at the end of the school year, they (students especially) can gain access to experiences that they wouldn’t have otherwise.

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“Louisiana Day is more than just the end of the school year,” she said. “It gives students a chance to learn about Louisiana’s culture. We have a lot of kids that don’t really leave their own communities, let alone find out what’s going on in the state.”

Throughout the day, they experience an array of food, history and culture about the state.

They kicked the morning off with a Mardi Gras Parade in the parking lot. Students were lined up with bags in tow, ready to catch candy and other goodies. The parade featured SWLA Charter’s Kings and Queens. The grade levels were broken into groups, and the teachers selected the Kings and Queens. Students were chosen based on a rubric that considered factors like personality, leadership skills and overall character.

That wasn’t the only Louisiana Day initiative that incentivized students. Students who exhibited good behavior and academic achievement were rewarded with a free dress day.

Throughout the school, food-tasting options were set up. Each grade pod featured a different Louisiana food, such as boudin or red beans and rice. Deemed Taste of Louisiana, this lets students sample culturally significant foods that they may not have experienced before.

There was also an auction that featured food-themed baskets curated by each grade level.

A Louisiana history and culture museum was set up in the Pre-K hall to support the educational aspect of Louisiana Day. Students toured the museum in groups to view the informational posters that were hung. This allowed them to explore traditions developed at the intersections of African, French, Indigenous, Haitian and European cultures that settled in the area and view the timeline of Louisiana’s development.

For the first time, the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana paid SWLA Charter a visit so that the students could experience indigenous dances and music.

Rusty Metoyer and the Zydeco Krush was also there to perform.

“It’s also a different type of music, so it’s not something that you would listen to on a daily basis,” Johnson said.

Fun activities were set up outside, including a petting zoo – featuring baby gators and a shetland pony – laser tag, fun jumps and other field games.