Nearly 5,000 students participate in school voucher program

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Nearly 5,000 students, 4,944 to be exact, are enrolled in the Louisiana Scholarship Program according to the state Department of Education. The department reports 118 schools are participating.

Hosanna Christian Academy nearly doubled its enrollment to help students in failing schools succeed.

Mrs. Zanetta Trahan is teaching her American History students a lesson on the South's defense of slavery. She lectures before an engaged group of teenagers.

"To see that light bulb go off on their faces when they say I get it," Trahan said.

Trahan has a mixed group at Hosanna Christian this year. Of the 598 students enrolled there, school Principal Josh LeSage said, 283 are part of the state voucher program. LeSage said with the exception of a couple of expected logistics the "scholarship" program as he likes to call it, has been rewarding.

"I always feel good to be a part of an effort that says you know what these kids can grow and learn and grow and achieve as well. They're parents' pocket book doesn't really matter," LeSage said.

But the grades count. At Hosanna, you'll find an empty chair at the back of each classroom. They are reserved for parents who want to observe class. LeSage said he knows everyone will be watching when the state releases its first LEAP score results under the new program.

"The reality is we've gotten lots of students. We tested them and know that they are 2 to three grade levels behind," LeSage said.

LeSage said he has hired 22 new teachers to help students prepare for the rigorous round of testing. The teachers are careful to never single out their students, but lecture in a way that sharpens their likeness to learn. Trahan knows it doesn't just take skill, but passion too.

"I love new students. I love the opportunity to teach new students. I see them all as potential scholars," Trahan explained.

LeSage said his only regret is losing several students because their siblings did not get into the same school. However, he told 9News, he has been asked to be part of a state education panel this summer, where he plans to recommend next year greater preference is given to siblings of current students.

For a list of scholarship enrollments by participating school, click here

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