When Henderson Lewis Jr. arrived in East Feliciana Parish in June 2012 to serve as the superintendent of schools, the East Feliciana School Board charged him with leading the system’s efforts to become Louisiana’s premier rural school district, school officials said in a news release.

Today, students say they are proud of the progress the district has made under Lewis’ leadership and are excited to bring those efforts to the next level, even as their superintendent departs for Orleans Parish next month, the release states.

“In the last three years, my school has improved tremendously academic-wise and behavior-wise,”said East Feliciana High School senior Charquela King. “As students, this year we are being taught at a different rate, a rate at which we understand the lesson better.”

Chynna King, a fourth-grade student at Clinton Elementary School, said efforts have been revitalized across the parish.

“We’ve improved on working together and communicating,” Chynna said.

Students pointed out that the faculty and staff members of East Feliciana Schools have served as role models.

“My school provides us with good teachers and makes sure we learn every day,” said Lily Antor, sixth-grader at Slaughter Elementary School.

“The best thing about my school is that we have teachers and an administration that care for the students,” East Feliciana High School senior Tiara George said. “They want to see us succeed; therefore, they make themselves available to do anything they can to help us achieve each and every goal we may have.”

Students praised both the higher expectations the school system holds and the support they are given to reach that bar, the release states.

“You have to have a certain grade-point average to play sports,” East Feliciana Enrichment Academy student Braylon Davis explained.

“My school puts education first by prohibiting people with a low grade-point average from participating in sports,” said East Feliciana Middle School eighth-grader Shalimar Hollins. “My school also offers tutoring so that these students can raise their gpa.”

“My school puts education first by giving homework and by tutoring,” said Clinton Elementary School fifth-grader Riley Smith.

Students eagerly explained what the school district’s motto of “Education First” means to them.

“To me, it means working as a team to get something accomplished,” Charquela King explains, “and putting the past in the past and a good future in your mind.”

“It means the school cares about your education so you can succeed in life,” said Mikayla Vessel, sixth-grader at Slaughter Elementary School.