The start of the new West Feliciana Parish school year was a “Where’s Waldo” puzzle with an easy answer — everywhere. Superintendent Hollis Milton, who looks like a better-dressed Waldo, was on top of a bus and inside the television. He was shaking pompoms with the cheerleaders and kneeling to wipe the tears from the eyes of scared kindergartners not ready to tell mama goodbye. His message and smile reassured “we are going to be just fine.”

Milton started Friday, Aug. 9, with a morning television crew at 4:30 a.m., but he wanted to touch all four West Feliciana campuses on the first day of school to aid in a smooth start and connect with the district’s administrators and support staff. He emphasized the need to stay the course and build upon previous advancements.

District enrollment has increased by 34 students and there is a plan for future growth.

"Last year, with the community's support, we were able to pass a bond initiative that includes building a new elementary school, a new freshman academy, and renovations to our career and technology center and our auditorium,” Milton said. “We are going to have a unique opportunity to modernize our schools so that we can better meet the needs of the 21st century learner."

The district is coming off a string of successes that include a Bains Elementary teacher receiving a coveted national Milken Award and LEAP 2025 results that ranked West Feliciana third in the state for students achieving mastery or advanced scores.

“We have two nationally distinguished schools, Bains and Bains Lower, that have received 'Lighthouse School' status for teaching leadership,” Milton said. Both schools utilize the 'Leader in Me' program based off the concepts in 'The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People' by Steven Covey. West Feliciana Middle School is working toward the ‘Lighthouse School’ status and will likely achieve this school year,” he added.

The district’s high school students continued the upward trend of distinctions. Last spring, U.S. News and World Report recognized West Feliciana High School as one of the highest ranking nonselect high schools in the capital area region. Select schools, such as Baton Rouge High and University High, are high ranking, but limit enrollment with entrance criteria. "I believe our success is due to high expectations, a long history of strong leadership, and everyone working together for one mission — the education of all students,” Milton said.

“We are able to meet the needs of each student through personalization,” Milton added. “Our employees go above and beyond to serve the student and the family.”