Slaughter Elementary School held its second graduation ceremony Sept. 25 for two fifth-grade students who recently completed a dyslexia program.

The ceremony at Slaughter Town Hall included program instructors, students, their families, Slaughter Elementary personnel and community leaders.

“These children have worked so hard and have accomplished skills that will see them through life,” said Frank Lemings of Slaughter Masonic Lodge 47 and the dyslexia chairman for programs in East and West Feliciana schools.

The recent graduates, Christopher Harris and Folashade Kinyomi, were fourth-graders when they made the commitment to participate in the two-year program.

“We have seen tremendous growth in these students’ reading level due to their participation in the program,” said Slaughter Principal Kim Glascock. “Not only have the students improved academically but their self-esteem is much more positive now.”

Glascock, along with teachers/instructors Sherry Hillman and Lori Speer, worked to get the first dyslexia classes up and running in the 2011-12 school year at SES. All three were honored by the Grand Lodge Learning Center of Louisiana and Slaughter Masonic Lodge 475 in March.

Glascock was dedicated to the program from the beginning, and Speer, the teacher of the first class, went beyond what was expected of her, Lemings said.

Hillman, now retired, developed a computer presentation to educate parents about the program. The presentation is being used throughout Louisiana by the Grand Lodge of the State of Louisiana to further the work in Slaughter and the dyslexia program at SES.

The Dyslexia Training Program adopted by the Grand Lodge is a multi-sensory program of instruction which emphasizes phonics taught by a facilitator to classes of limited size using a number of teaching aids including videotapes, workbooks, writing frames, linkage paper, three-dimensional letters, flash cards, wall charts, dictionaries and other items.

The material is presented in cursive writing.

The program consists of 350 hours of classroom time, which is conducted one hour a day, five days each week, excluding holidays.

“The community of Slaughter will be forever changed due to these teachers and this program,” Lemings said.

Dyslexia is defined as a learning difficulty in children and adults who are intelligent but have no other limiting physical or emotional problems, but who, despite a conventional classroom experience, do not learn to read, write, spell and comprehend as expected.

In 1998, the Grand Lodge of Louisiana chose the dyslexia program as its major philanthropic charity and the Masonic Learning Center was formed to operate the dyslexia program from the state office, Lemings said.

“This includes testing the children in a local setting to be sure that they are dyslexic, paying teachers salaries, materials and any other needs to carry out this program for these children,” Lemings said.

“Our cost per class for a two-year program in $12,000 but the cost is picked up by the Masonic Grand Lodge of Louisiana,” Lemings said.

This year’s program, which began Sept. 29, includes two classes of students — five third graders and a class of six fifth-graders.

To learn more about the Masonic Learning Center of Louisiana, call (318) 487-4986 or (318) 443-5610, or email the Grand Lodge Office at glodge@suddenlinkmail.com.