The East Baton Rouge School Board Center was a full house on April 21st where parents, teachers and students stood to watch their favorite staff members get recognized.

The recognition of Rhonda Ware for the Barnes and Noble “My Favorite Teacher” award was nominated by one of her own students Kensey Rivera. Many other principles and teachers were awarded for academic achievement and progress.

The decision to approve the motion of establishing Baton Rouge Foreign Language Academic Immersion Magnet (BRFLAIM) in downtown Baton Rouge was made. BRFLAIM will be extended into Polk Elementary School where students from second to fifth grade will be indulged in the program.

BRFLAIM provides students full immersion in one of three languages provided: Spanish, French and Mandarin. Since this is also a magnet program, students are required to maintain a 2.5 or higher. Students are not only interacting in their target language (TL) for 60-70 percent of their day, they also score higher on standardized tests than traditional teaching programs. The child must be accepted into the program at the kindergarten or 1st grade level in order to participate.

The EBR School Board voted 8-0 in favor of the expansion after much debate and these changes will happen in the upcoming 2016-2017 school year.

Deputy Superintendent Dr. Michelle Clayton stressed how Polk had been experiencing low enrollment in the past few years. Polk has about 150 students there currently, but need around 250 students to be considered for the expansion.

Dr. Clayton said, “I would like to see at least 250 students each year, so it’s not always being considered of closure.”

The program that consisted of only Spanish and Mandarin was called FLAIM II, but now both will be merged as one and will operate at Polk and the Mayflower campus.

The expansion of FLAIM had plenty of supporters. Patrick Morse, former PTO, short for Parent Teacher Organization, president and father of a FLAIM student said, “I am very passionate about this program and I will do whatever I can to help recruit for FLAIM.”

However, there were some audience members who didn’t like the idea of expansion because they didn’t want to split children up and strip away the strong community.

Vicki Dosan, a Polk employee said, “The parents here embrace the teachers and there is a sense of community that I can’t even explain at this moment.”

The primary reason for supporters of the expansion is to retreat from the Mayflower campus which is in poor condition. School system authorities have also thought of building a new facility that could fit up to 900 students. This proposal could be brought to voters as early as 2018 Clayton said.

Supporters find the program beneficial to have their children and students be able to learn more about their heritage.

Hannah Burchman, mother of FLAIM 1st grader said, “ I was once terrified of EBR schools, but since being apart of the FLAIM program, it would take a mountain for me to move.”

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