DHS students take off for D.C.

Back row starting left to right: junior Michael Favorite, senior Ronald Comeaux Jr., Principal, Dr. Esrom Pitre, sophomore Jason Williams, APSB Wanda August, senior Ka’Lynn Jupiter, senior Alia Woods, and DHS career coach Dorothy Claiborne.

Martin Luther King isn’t the only doctor who had visions of giving hope to the kids, Donaldsonville High School principal, Esrom Pitre, has similar thoughts. Dr. Pitre initiated a plan that has enabled five DHS students to be part of an experience of a lifetime and attend the 2013 Presidential Inauguration of Barack Obama. On Saturday, seniors: Ronald Comeaux Jr., Ka’Lynn Jupiter, Alia Woods, junior Michael Favorite, and sophomore Jason Williams will all start their travels to attend the ceremony in Washington D.C. on Monday, Jan. 21.

Pitre said he got the idea at the 2012 Democratic National Convention from scholars Dr. Chance Lewis and Dr. Ivory Toldson. He said they came up with an idea of having students to write about how they are leaders on the campus and how they plan on utilizing a trip like this to learn from the Black Caucus and bring that energy back to school and help transform the community here in Donaldsonville.

“I thought it was a really good idea and thought it would help cultivate and change Donaldsonville,” Pitre said about Lewis and Toldson’s ideas.

So, Pitre got the DHS students to write on how they would change the community and initially only three guys were selected. Well, the DHS counselors along with Wanda August, parent facilitator for Ascension Parish School Board, and DHS career coach, Dorothy Claiborne, looked at the second tier, which helped get the ladies go on the trip.

Pitre said he got the Black Student Government Association from Colorado State to review the essays and those students were selected. The students were so excited to get the opportunity and all they could say was “thank you.”

“It’s a blessing,” Comeaux said about the trip. “I’m honored to be going and am really excited to go. It’s going to a very captivating and invigorating experience.”

Comeaux, who is the senior class president and the DHS band’s drum major, said the trip is going to help him as a leader.

“I would like to use this experience to gather all the information and insight that I can so I can come back and spread that amongst my peers and open their eyes up to opportunities that are out there for them,” Comeaux said.

For Woods, it was just overwhelming. She said it’s a once in a lifetime chance being that Obama is being sworn in for his second and last term as president.

Williams echoed Woods and said he was very appreciative of being able to see something like that.

There were many who funded and helped the students be able to go on a trip like this. Favorite recognizes it and said he is very honored to be able to get the opportunity.

“By awarding us this experience, to go there and to learn different things and bring it back,” Favorite said, who is the junior class president, “that is something special and something kids who weren’t able to go on this one will be able to look forward to.”

August said the she got the word of this trip out to the DHS alumni and so many of them were so eager and willing to support the students on this trip. August said when she spoke with the alum, she reminded them of the African Proverb: It takes a village to raise a child.

“Basically, everyone within a circle realized the importance of the kids getting there,” August said about the donors. “They recognize what a good opportunity it is for the children.”

Jupiter understands how great of an opportunity it is for her to experience a trip like the one to D.C. She said it just gives them hope that school like theirs can do great things and it gives them something to look forward to and other students something to look forward to.

Williams also talked about the significance his principal, Pitre, played in pushing the opportunity forward. He said he’s going to try his best to bring back as much information to the community.

“For him to be the first black principal that Donaldsonville has had and for him to have this school running as good as it is,” Williams said about Pitre. “For him to be able to choose us to go see the president’s second inauguration, I’m very appreciative.”

The students agree the Pitre has been doing a good job turning the DHS culture around and shedding positive light on them and the school.

“Dr. Pitre has portrayed this school in a positive image, not just with this trip, but with other things that he’s pushing us to do,” Woods said. “He’s pushing us to be more leaders around the school and in the community.”

For Pitre, he’s just thankful for the support the kids received in being funded to go to Washington D.C. He said starting with the Donaldsonville Ministerial Alliance and the mayor to alumni across the country it was really a group effort, a team effort in terms of helping them out.

“I can’t help but be totally thankful for the support that we got, starting with our ministers and Ministerial Alliance,” Pitre said. “You have to tip your hats off to Mayor (Leroy) Sullivan for all the things that he continuously do for DHS students and all the other students in the school system here in Donaldsonville.”

Pitre said alumni from all over the country reached out to support the cause. He said graduates like Dr. Aisha Renee Collins from Dallas, Texas and Rev. Kevin Barnes Sr. from Oakland, California had no problem with helping out.

“He’s a minister out there (Oakland), but his heart is still here in Donaldsonville,” Pitre said about Barnes.

Pitre and August both sent out a huge thank you to everyone who contributed to the great cause. Pitre couldn’t overlook his teaching staff and school organizations that chipped in such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and Band Boosters.

“We’re just trying to get our kids exposed to a little bit more,” Pitre said. “We are extremely proud, thankful of the community that helped our students go on this trip and I couldn’t be more excited for them.”