Voucher Students Prepare for School - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Voucher Students Prepare for School

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ALEXANDRIA, La. -- It's back-to-school in two weeks in Rapides Parish.

And, when the school bell rings, there will be a bunch of new students who will get the chance to attend private school for the first time.

News Channel Five's Brooke Buford has the story.

Fifth grader, Jourdain Dishmond, is picking out his school uniforms this week for his new school, St. Frances Cabrini inAalexandria.

"This is my first time going to a private school," he said.

A former Huddle student, Jourdain is able to go to Cabrini School, thanks to the state school voucher lottery program, which allows parents of children in failing schools to apply to transfer to one of three Rapides Parish private schools with free tuition.

"I thought it was an awesome opportunity," said Jana Jones, his mother. "I attended private school coming up. My family was able to send me and in my heart, this is something that I always wanted for my son."

Jana applied for both her son and her daughter. When the acceptance letters came in the mail, the family waited on edge. Jana's daughter didn't make it, but there was good news for Jourdain.

"When I went to his letter and I opened it, it said 'congratulations,' said Jones. "I automatically knew that my son had been chosen."

When Jourdain starts school, there will be 40 other students joining him there.

"There has been a lot of excitement," said Joseph Wiederholt, principal. "Parents have been in to complete paperwork. The last two days we've been doing placement testing in kindergarten through 6th grade. There's just tremendous excitement on the part of parents, children and teachers."

A lot of that excitement, Jourdain's mom tells us, is because her son will now get a education that also includes religious values.

"The key factor to me, as a Christian, is the fact that my son will have God in his life every day," said Jones. That's very important, as well as academics to have him be encouraged in his faith and encouraged as a person."

It's a life long dream of this mother for her son, and she says when it comes time to drop him off on the first day, it will be a feeling of accomplishment.

"Definitely, mission accomplished," she said. "My life's work is to ensure that my children grow up to be productive citizens in life. And, that they don't struggle every day. I'll just be so happy."

Jana tells us she knows there's been some criticism about the school voucher program from parents who pay for their child's private education. She says, this was an opportunity that she couldn't afford to miss and says she's happy that her taxpayer dollars can go toward getting her son a great education.

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