Livonia High School

Livonia High School, pictured in 2014

Pointe Coupee Parish high school seniors next year will begin having their graduation ceremonies across the river at LSU because there isn’t a venue in their home parish that's large enough to hold all the people.

The Pointe Coupee Parish School District has only one high school — Livonia High School — that in 2019 had about 130 graduates. The ceremony has traditionally been held on the high school’s football field, but if inclement weather hits, officials scramble into the school’s gym instead.

That forces some family members to be excluded as the district, usually last-minute, is forced to implement a three-ticket-per-graduate policy.

“We’ve had situations where it rained all day and parents are given two or three tickets to the gym,” Superintendent Kevin Lemoine said. “It really upset some people because there are some who travel into the state for this particular event.”

After a recent unanimous school board vote, the district will begin paying the $6,500 rental fee for LSU’s PMAC, a roughly 28-mile drive from the high school but a venue that guarantees families will be able to see their senior graduate.

The move was based on a survey of incoming seniors in which 85 percent favored graduating out-of-parish.

The larger venue is also needed because the ranks of graduates is growing. The STEM Magnet Academy of Pointe Coupee, which is a separate school but operates as part of Livonia High School, will reach full capacity and have its first graduating class in 2020.

The school was opened in 2016 with grades 6 to 9, and has been expanding by one grade level at the top and bottom until it reaches full capacity of third through 12th grades in 2019-20.

Where in 2019 there were 130 graduates and some 2,000 estimated attendees to the graduation, next year will see approximately 200 graduates from both schools walk the stage.

Incoming district Superintendent Kim Canezaro said that when her son graduated from Livonia two years ago, she wiped down chairs on the football field only minutes before graduation was scheduled to start.

It had been raining intermittently all day and it was not until 45 minutes before graduation that school officials decided to proceed with an outdoor ceremony, she said.

“You take all that away when you’ve got an indoor facility,” she said.

Lemoine had proposed a series of options including using Livonia or the STEM academy as venues, the Raising Cane’s River Center, LSU’s PMAC or holding the two classes’ ceremonies separately or together, and conducted the incoming senior class poll before the board decided on a venue.

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