McNeese program began as 1959 experiment

<p>A 2015 group photo from the Governor’s Program for Gifted Children</p>Courtesy of

<p class="p1"><strong>Who started the Governor’s Program for Gifted Children at McNeese State University? Was it Edwin Edwards?</strong>

<p class="p2">No.

<p class="p2">The program, which predates Edwards’ tenure as governor by several years, was started in 1959 as an experimental enrichment initiative by psychologist and McNeese professor George Middleton.

<p class="p2">The first year involved 15 middle school students — 11 boys and four girls — whose studies “included French conversation, areas of science, and the development of the English language, with a study of classical mythology,” according to a submitted story that appeared in the <em>American Press</em> on Aug. 16, 1959.

<p class="p2">The students’ days, the story says, also featured afternoon discussion periods that covered “such topics as how to improve study methods, ethics, truth, and other philosophical concepts.”

<p class="p2">“To be eligible for the experiment the children had to have an intellectual aptitude in the top one percent of the population. …,” reads the story.

<p class="p2">“Before classes began all enrollees were subjected to a two-day series of tests to establish their level of achievement at the start of the experiment.”

<p class="p2">The enrichment program’s first participants: Linda Bertrand, Mary Bracken, Tommy Clarke, Sharon Collins, Joe Dalovisio, Ronald Gaudet, Robert Jewett, David Landers, Jim Melton Jr., Marcia Morgan and Jimmy Moses, all of Lake Charles; Randall Broussard and Denton Martine, both of Sulphur; Johnny Buller of Jennings; and Tommy Verrett of Welsh.

<p class="p2">The program, which over the next few years began taking students from outside Southwest Louisiana, adopted its current name in the mid-1960s after receiving $10,000 in state funding — secured with the help of a local lawmaker Jesse Knowles.

<p class="p2">“Gov. John McKeithen will sponsor the McNeese State College Summer Enrichment Program as the first major step in the establishment of a Governor’s Program for Gifted Children in the state of Louisiana,” reads a story published in the <em>American Press</em> on March 23, 1965.

<p class="p2">McKeithen’s support, the story says, would provide financial security; allow administrators to develop “a coordinated program to meet the special educational needs of all able and talented children in the state”; and ensure that the program would “continue beyond the tenure of the present governor.”

<p class="p4"><strong>Online:</strong>

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<p class="p5"><strong>Dixon: More needed to answer question</strong>

<p class="p1"><strong>What ordinance or statute allows the Lake Charles city police to commandeer a private business parking lot for the purpose of issuing a traffic citation and impeding the ingress and egress of its customers.</strong>

<p class="p1"><strong>Also, are they justified in threatening the owner of the business if the owner asks the officer to move his vehicle?</strong>

<p class="p2">“I would need a specific incident date and place and unit number to review the in-car camera video to answer that question,” Police Chief Don Dixon said in a statement forwarded to The Informer.

<p class="p2">For more information, call police at 491-1311.

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<span class="s1">The I</span><span class="s2">nformer answers questions from readers each Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. It is re</span>searched and written by <strong>Andrew Perzo</strong>, an <em>American Press</em> staff writer. To ask a question, call 494-4098 and leave voice mail, or ema<span class="s2">il</span>

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