Schools of Choice application period opens Nov. 8, the same day as Fall Frenzy _lowres

Advocate file photo by BRYAN TUCK. -- Carencro Middle School Biomedical Academy Director Ashlyn Roger sets up her school's booth at the Lafayette Convention Center in 2012. The Lafayette Parish School System's Fall Frenzy, a showcase for the parish's Schools of Choice, is being held Nov. 8.

The Lafayette Parish school system will host its annual Fall Frenzy Nov. 8 to answer questions, recruit students and showcase the system’s Schools of Choice program.

The application period for the program begins the same day.

Schools of Choice started more than 10 years ago as part of the school system’s desegregation plan to offer out-of-zone school options to students. The program has grown over the years to include more than 20 options and about 6,000 students from preschool through high school enrolled.

Parents may apply for their child to attend one of the schools that best targets their child’s interest in foreign language, the arts, sciences, technology, business and other fields through Dec. 31.

Because of its popularity, a computerized lottery is conducted each spring to select students for the available spaces in the programs.

One of the newest programs the district is trying to grow is the broadcast journalism academy at Northside High School. The program began last school year, though enrollment was limited to Northside-zoned students.

“The academy of broadcasting will be open for the first time to the entire district,” said Burnell LeJeune, Schools of Choice and career and technical education director.

Seats in the Northside High program will be open to incoming freshmen and sophomores, he said.

Work to complete a studio where students will produce programs and broadcast them via an Internet radio station dubbed “The Viking” is still underway, LeJeune said.

“We’re not complete with the entire studio, but we have our ninth- and 10th-grade labs ready to go with computers,” he said.

Also for the first time, parents of incoming kindergarten students will have a chance to apply for Chinese immersion at Plantation Elementary. The district began the Chinese immersion program a few years ago at Alice Boucher Elementary and moved the program to Plantation Elementary this school year — after students already were selected for the program.

Options for foreign language immersion — where students learn their basic subjects in a foreign language — also exist in French and Spanish as early as the preschool and kindergarten levels.

LeJeune said the district also is considering opening as many as 25 more seats for incoming freshmen in the district’s Early College Academy, a high school housed at South Louisiana Community College. At the academy, students work toward a high school diploma in tandem with an associate degree in liberal arts. Currently, 75 seats for freshmen are available.

“We haven’t made a determination because we’re still reviewing transportation, facilities, staffing, textbooks and tuition costs,” LeJeune said. “Hopefully by the lottery, we’ll make a determination.”

On Nov. 8, interested parents and students can learn more about the options offered during the annual Schools of Choice Fall Frenzy event. All programs are represented during the event, allowing parents and students to talk with teachers and, in most cases, students enrolled in some of the programs.

The event also features hands-on activities and student performances that showcase what students may learn and experience in the Schools of Choice programs.

Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.