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The Lafayette Parish School System main office is pictured Monday, April 16, 2018, in Lafayette, La. ORG XMIT: BAT1804161232227826

Lafayette parents and students can learn about their education options at a showcase for the Lafayette Parish School System’s magnet academy programs Saturday.

The showcase will be at the Heymann Performing Arts Center from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and include information booths, activities and performances from magnet academy students. LPSS currently has over 20 programs at 20 schools ranging from language immersion to computer science, magnet academies director Larry Alexander said.

“We live in a community where our students have a broad range of talents and abilities and we need to have options for them to excel in each of those areas,” Alexander said.

Having an all-day event helps make access to the programs more equitable, he said. Rather than driving to different preview days at schools across the parish, all families, including low-income or transportation-challenged families, have a better chance to see each opportunity available to their child, Alexander said.

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“As parents, guardians and stakeholders, we all want what’s best for our children and we want to make sure they all have the same ability to see every program,” the director said.

Program enrollment is decided by a computerized lottery system. The application period for the 2020-2021 school year opens Saturday and runs through Jan. 15. Once closed, each application will be vetted, and students will be selected by the lottery. Lottery winners must claim their spot within 15 days of notification, the LPSS website said.

After any waiting lists are cleared, remaining seats will be filled on a first-come-first-served basis.

Some priority is given to students with siblings in elementary school and to twins or multiples applying for high school programs. Priority is also granted to students completing a single pathway for their entire schooling, such as arts education or French immersion, Alexander said.

Grade-level cutoffs are second grade for elementary language immersion programs and sophomore year for all high school magnet programs, Alexander said. Some exceptions are available for students who move to Lafayette from a similar program in another school district, he said.

It’s important parents remember to reapply for the magnet program when students change schools, such as when children transition from elementary to middle school. Just because a student is in one magnet program doesn’t mean they’ll automatically be transferred to the program at the new school, he said. They must complete the application process.

Alexander said he hopes the showcase will show parents the “tremendous” opportunities the academies can provide.

“Students can pursue something they’re truly passionate about and focus their education in that area, or they can try different opportunities and figure out where they want to go,” he said. “Anytime you can give options to students it’s beneficial.”

Roughly half of Lafayette students are making satisfactory progress in English and math

From the early 2000s to 2017 the magnet program was known as the Schools of Choice program, an initiative central to a federal desegregation order to achieve greater racial and socioeconomic diversity in Lafayette’s schools. In fall 2017, the Lafayette Parish School Board voted to change the program’s name and solidified the current system’s programs, among other changes.

Here are the magnet programs available at each schooling level:

Elementary school:

  • Arts and Technology at J. Wallace James Elementary
  • Environmental Sciences at L. Leo Judice Elementary
  • Mandarin Chinese Immersion at Cpl. Michael Middlebrook Elementary
  • Spanish Immersion at Alice Boucher Elementary
  • Two-way Spanish Immersion at Charles M. Burke Elementary
  • French Immersion at Evangeline, Myrtle Place, Prairie and Westside Elementary

Middle school:

  • Arts Academy at L.J. Alleman Middle
  • Biomedical Academy at Carencro Middle
  • Environmental Sciences at Lafayette Middle
  • Informatics Academy at Carencro Middle
  • STEM at David Thibodaux STEM
  • French and Spanish immersion at Paul Breaux Middle

High school:

  • STEM at David Thibodaux STEM
  • Broadcasting and Journalism at Northside High
  • Performing Arts Academy at Ovey Comeaux High
  • Academy of Visual and Applied Arts at Ovey Comeaux High
  • Business (Finance, Hospitality, Tourism) at Acadiana High
  • Air Force JROTC at Acadiana High
  • Navy JROTC at Ovey Comeaux High
  • Information Technology at Carencro High
  • Legal Studies at Northside High
  • Early College Academy
  • Health Careers at Lafayette High
  • French and Spanish Immersion at Lafayette High

Email Katie Gagliano at kgagliano@theadvocate.com