Adrienne King will lead her class at Slaughter Community Charter School into history as the school’s first valedictorian.
She’s part of the 12th-grade class that’s blazing a trail as the first seniors to graduate from the school.
“This has been a long time coming, but we knew when we started in eighth grade that we’d be the first class of seniors, so I guess it’s been a year of firsts in a way,” King, of Jackson, said. “We’re all very close, and it’s been an amazing journey.”
Slaughter Community Charter first opened in East Feliciana Parish in 2011 to host seventh- and eighth-graders, and after a first successful year, 2012-13 brought the first ninth-grade class.
“We’ve added a grade per year ever since, until we could effectively house grades seven through 12,” guidance counselor April Peterson said. “Although we draw students from all over East Feliciana, there is an enrollment cap of 66 students per grade.”
Peterson said the seventh- and eighth-grade classes are about at capacity now, and the senior class has the fewest students at 37.
“It’s been a learning experience for all of us, not only the students,” Peterson said. “We’ve let them help us guide things, since this is the first class. They’ve made some suggestions with uniform policies and have added some unique activities at prom.”
“It’s funny, but in a way, we’ve always been the seniors. If you started SCCS in eighth grade like I did, then you’ve always been the most senior class on campus,” said King.
“The only bad part about it, if there is one, is that we’ve never had anyone to look up to, no other senior class to watch to see how things are done,” added Taylor Hall, 17, who came from the much larger St. Amant High School two years ago. “I was the new girl coming from a school with a lot of cliques. But though we’re all different and unique, it’s embraced here.”
Last year, during the inaugural junior ring ceremony, a bridge was built for the then-11th-graders to walk over, accept their rings, light a candle and blow them out together, symbolizing their transition to senior status.
“We created something to be passed down, so I guess you could say we are role models,” added Hall.
Both King and Hall said the junior class and the senior class are close and students are more like equals.
Robbye Duke, an English language arts teacher, has moved up with the seniors, having taught most of them since they started at SCCS.
“I’ve gotten to know them so well,” Duke said. “That could be a good thing or bad thing. They know me well, too, but we’ve grown close. What’s good is that I don’t have to explain myself about certain things; they just know.”
“It’s been mostly interesting, exciting but also a lot of hard work,” added science teacher Bryan Tadlock. “This is my first year with them, but they’ve been pretty great.”
While studying for an environmental science test in Tadlock’s classroom, seniors Cheyenne Edwards, 18, and Brandon Welch, 18, who have both attended SCCS since the eighth grade, said while it’s exciting to be the leaders of the school, they’re also a little “bummed” that they won’t be here to take advantage of the “new stuff.” The “new stuff” referred to by the students are 18 new classrooms, a new gymnasium, football field, cafeteria, science and computer labs, art and music rooms, library and outdoor commons area, thanks to an $8.1 million construction loan announced in October.
Principal Clint Ebey said dirt should begin moving at the beginning of summer.
“It has been very rewarding to watch these students grow from children to young men and women, and all of us here are excited about all that they’ll accomplish in the future,” said Ebey. “It’s a great day to be a Knight.”
In the meantime, the first SCCS senior class is looking forward to becoming the first graduates of SCCS. Diplomas will be awarded during the school’s graduation ceremony at 7 p.m. May 12 at Fellowship Church in Zachary.