BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - If viewing this story on a mobile device or in an email, click the link for additional features.
On Thursday, October 6, Tara High School took part in a national event sponsored by the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools.
The national non-profit focuses on improving and winning community support for public schools. So on the day of the event, every student organization you can name at Tara, every club, every sports team, every band group, every cheerleader, and what seemed like every rank and file of student staged a "Walk In."
AROS says 1,000 schools in 200 cities participated in the event. While signs were given to students to write whatever they wanted, the students did not go negative. Some used the Alliance's "We Demand the Schools All Our Children Deserve." Others hand-wrote "All Our Children
Deserve... A Voice, A Safe Environment, or Better Recreation."
Principal Karen Triche says this school year, teachers and staff have really raised the standards and the kids have met the challenge. She said teachers spent the summer changing the look of the old building on Whitehall Ave. in the Tara neighborhood.
"This summer, we did a lot of painting around the school, painted the lockers fun colors, neon bright colors," said one of the teachers, Amber Collins.
"We decided to give the students 'new' and 'fresh' and let them walk into something that they call theirs. We wanted to change what they saw," said Triche.
That attitude of positive change was in the curriculum too. "We're not Baton Rouge High. We're not Lee," Triche added, "But anything that our kids come to us with, we try to satisfy that need." Collins said the curriculum is already reflecting some fascinating lessons, and the Walk-In demonstrated that.
"We wanted to get the message out that we have great things going on: honors college, cyber engineering, Junior ROTC, Pro-Start, all of those great things are at Tara! We wanted to give a voice to the positive things that go on in public schools in EBR parish," said Triche.
The smiles were evident on students' faces when the cheers rocked the school's gym as the student demonstrators held a rally to outline all the wonderful programs in which students are engaged. Collins said one of her favorite moments was unexpected.
"The best moment in the rally was when our principal spoke. She did a great message about how all schools deserve the same equity in public education. The kids stood up and clapped, they all cheered," said Collins.
Triche said some of her kids have challenges. "We probably have some kids who come from situations that aren't real good, and we definitely have some kids who aren't learning positive skills at home, who aren't being taught the best ways to resolve situations. We have some kids who don't know they should put education first," she said.
When asked how she motivated the students, Triche had this to say: "I just remember what I tell them always, and it is that they're great because they are. That they're better than what they're portrayed on television. They're more good than bad. They deserve the best, and the best way to get the best is to do their best and to show their best."