News Release
December 28, 2018
For Immediate Release
Contact: Vivian Lopez
Year in review: Fort Polk Progress highlights achievements from 2018
DeRIDDER, La. -- As the year comes to a close, Fort Polk Progress reflects on the highlights of 2018:
* Fort Polk Progress provides funding for VPSD website update -- In March, Fort Polk Progress partnered with Vernon Parish School District to fund updates to the district's website -- as part of the Education Initiative the organization spearheads alongside Vernon Parish schools, the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, the Vernon Parish Chamber of Commerce and community stakeholders. 
The website upgrade aimed to promote two-way communication between schools and the community, coordinate outreach activities as needed to engage stakeholders and disseminate information about school improvements and academic achievements on a regular basis.
James Williams, Superintendent of Vernon Parish Schools said, "I appreciate the support of Fort Polk Progress in strengthening the relationship between the Vernon Parish School District, Fort Polk and the community. Through their support of this project and continuing leadership of the Education Initiative we will -- Move Vernon Parish Schools from Good to Great!" 

Read more here -->
* Camps promote summer enrichment at Vernon Parish elementary, high schools -- In June, summer camps took place in Vernon Parish schools through Education Initiative efforts. Students plan out their water filtration system during Camp Discovery.
Approximately 60 students in grades 1-8 completed different Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) educational activities themed after "The Great Pioneer Town" for Camp Discovery at Pickering Elementary School. Read more here -->
And the Jump Start Summer Initiative program taught high schoolers about the welding trade at Pickering High School. 
Read more here -->
* Fort Polk Progress elects new Board of Directors -- The new Fort Polk Progress Board of Directors elected in July includes: Fort Polk Progress President Michael Reese, City of DeRidder and Beauregard Parish Police Jury Director of Economic Development Avon Knowlton, BPPJ Administrator Bryan McReynolds, Hornbeck Mayor Clarence Beebe, Vernon Parish Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Williams, Anacoco Mayor Howard Lewing, Vernon Parish Police Jury President Jim Tuck, Leesville Mayor Rick Allen, England Airpark Interim Executive Director Scott Gammel, Merchants & Farmers Bank Executive Vice President Leroy Cooley, and DeRidder Mayor Misty Clanton.
"This is a great group representing Fort Polk's surrounding areas," Reese said. "They know the positive impact the installation has on their communities, and want to give back." Read more here -->
* Vernon Parish School District launches new website -- The new Vernon Parish School District website launched in July at Fort Polk Progress provided funding for various aspects of the website project, including costs of website licensing, software, development and training. The organization's contribution was an Education Initiative effort. Read more here -->
* Cafeteria Conversation brings Vernon Parish schools, community together -- More than 840 people gathered at Parkway Elementary School in Leesville, Louisiana, for the fifth annual Cafeteria Conversation and Resource Fair in August.
Families were able to meet with school principals and staff, as well as Vernon Parish School Board officials, and learn about different resources available to students including after school programs, military student services, sports, scouting, music, dance, martial arts, health and nutrition, college and career paths, family programs and more. 
The event was held as part of the Education Initiative. "We wanted to give families a chance to connect with the schools and resources available to them, so that they know everything the Vernon Parish School District has to offer to give its students a quality education," said Michael Reese, Fort Polk Progress President.  Read more here -->

* BPSB announces Advanced Placement results, NMSI grant progress --  The Beauregard Parish School Board announced DeRidder High School's Advanced Placement test results in August with 21 DHS students passing their exams with a qualifying score of three or higher -- a 75 percent increase from 2017 in which 12 students passed.

The improved AP test results are due, in part, to increased course offerings through a National Math and Science Initiative grant awarded to DHS in 2017 for schools with military-connected students. Fort Polk Progress helped DHS in acquiring the grant and provided additional funding they received from Louisiana Economic Development to make more AP courses available to its students. 

Read more here -->
* BPSB, VPSB Partners in Education recognized --The Partners in Education (PIE) program celebrated its 25th anniversary in Beauregard Parish Schools in September. The program is a joint venture between the school system and the Beauregard Area Chamber of Commerce. It was inaugurated in 1993 with 25 area businesses participating, and now includes 65 local business partners. Read more here -->
The Vernon Parish School Board also recognized its Partners in Education that month, with 23 local businesses partnered with the 18 schools in Vernon Parish during the 2017-2018 school year. Together the businesses donated more than $20,000 to the schools, as well as other resources and services. Read more here -->
* Education Initiative Annual Report presented to VPSB -- Fort Polk Progress President Michael Reese presented the Education Initiative Annual Report for the Vernon Parish School District 2017-2018 school year to the Vernon Parish School Board in November.
The annual report details the district increasing student achievement, vast academic and extracurricular opportunities, communication and outreach efforts, military-connected student resources and services, facilities and infrastructure and more. Read more here -->
* VPSD, BPSD maintain solid district performance scores --The Louisiana Department of Education released its district and school performance scores in November. Vernon Parish School District received an "A" school district rating, ranking fifth in the state under the former scoring guidelines, and a "B" school district rating under the new statewide scoring formula implemented this year, ranking seventh. Read more here -->
Beauregard Parish School District maintained a letter grade of "B" and increased its point total. 
Read more here -->
* Fort Polk, Vernon Parish receive Army Community Partnership Award -- The Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk and Vernon Parish communities received the Department of the Army's 2018 Army Community Partnership Award Dec. 4 in a ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
Fort Polk Progress President Michael Reese, Fort Polk Garrison Commander Col. Jarrett A. Thomas II, Leesville Mayor Rick Allen, Rosepine Mayor 
Donna DuVall and Vernon Parish Police Jury President James Tuck were present to accept the award.
The installation is among the seven recognized for innovative partnerships with their surrounding communities that enhance Army readiness, improve Army processes and promote business reform, while strengthening community relations.
"This award is evidence of what Fort Polk and Vernon Parish are able to accomplish together," Reese said. "We are honored that the Department of Defense recognized all the benefits of these collaborations and the hard work put into making them happen." Read more here -->

Fort Polk Progress is a regional organization focused on coordinating the efforts of the local communities, the State of Louisiana
and the Louisiana Congressional delegation on supporting the Army, the mission at Fort Polk, and the quality of life for soldiers
and families stationed in Louisiana.

For more information about Fort Polk Progress visit us on the   web, like us on   Facebook  and follow us on   Twitter.
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