D’Ville Rotary to offer CHOICES program to eighth graders

DERON TALLEY, EDITOR @dvillechief
Rotary District Governor, Mark LaCour, and Donaldsonville Rotary President Marvin Gros shake hands at the end of the Rotary Luncheon last Thursday.

The Donaldsonville Rotary Club is on a mission to educate students and encourage them to not drop out of school. The club partnered with Taco Bell to talk to Lowery Middle School eight graders about the importance of a high school education.

The idea came from the Rotary Club’s District Governor Mark LaCour who shared with the club a program called “Choices.” LaCour also met with LMS’s Guidance Counselor Cynthia Isaac-Romar and she gave LaCour and the D’ville Rotary Club the okay to bring the program to the school for Feb. 27 and March 1.

“Every lesson we teach is designed to get their minds saying, ‘I’ve got to graduate from High School,’” LaCour said explaining to Isaac-Romar, “don’t let it be an option.”

Choices is an interactive decision-making workshop that empowers teens to achieve academic success in pursuit of their career and life aspirations. In two hour-long sessions, business and community volunteers take students through real-world exercises on academic self-discipline, time and money management, and goal setting.

LaCour said he got involved in the program and now it’s time to really get it done in Ascension parish. He’s working to get six schools lined up by March.

Taco bell donated $50,000 for the program to be implemented and according to LaCour, this is the only place in the “whole world that Taco is doing it with.”

“This could go national I feel like this is kind of on my back to prove this is going to work,” LaCour said.

There are seven eighth grade classes at LMS and reaching them is important because the nation’s drop out is so high. LaCour said when he looked at the nationwide numbers and parish numbers for drop out rate it hit home, so he started promoting the program.

“Without an education, opportunity diminishes,” LaCour said. “If we prove ourselves, next year Taco Bell will give us $100,000. That’s what we want, they have the money and we want to use it.”

LaCour has already done the program at Gonzales Elementary where they had 11 classes.

At the Rotary Luncheon last Thursday, when LaCour was asking for Rotarians to sign up to inspire kids, Becky Katz, executive director at Chamber of Commerce, said she’s done Choices about 20 years ago with Entergy.

“It is a great experience and the things the kids will tell you are things they probably wouldn’t tell their teachers or talk about,” Katz said. “It’s really useful to know what needs to be talked about because they feel free to just spill their guts to somebody they don’t really know. It’s amazing.”