How can we keep graduates in Cenla after they finish school?

Part two of Louisiana Central's 'Big Idea' luncheon highlighted retaining our students.
Published: Apr. 27, 2023 at 6:50 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Louisiana Central hosted part two of its ‘Big Idea’ luncheon on Thursday, April 27.

We often hear students talk about moving away after they finish their education, but Louisiana Central is building a bridge that connects students to their careers all while keeping them local.

Part two of Louisiana Central’s ‘Big Idea’ luncheon addressed the lingering question, how can we keep graduates in Cenla after they finish school?

Keynote speaker Dr. Michael Hinojosa said attending college after high school is traditional, but it is also optional, and great opportunities should be within your reach either way.

“So we want kids to understand what else is out there that I can do,” said Dr. Hinojosa. “If I decide to go to college, that is my choice, but if I do not, what is out there so I can have a great living for me, my family and my community?”

The luncheon also offered an opportunity for leaders in Cenla’s manufacturing, healthcare and technology sector to meet with leaders in education, discussing better ways to link students to local careers.

“We have got to reach deeper into our school systems,” said Lafe Jones, Vice President of Louisiana Central. “We have to reach those kids and not only expose them to these places and these jobs but encourage them and let them know it is attainable for them.”

The Rapides Parish School Board is set to graduate 1,500 students next month. That is 1,500 students that RPSB Superintendent Jeff Powell said the district is striving to keep close to home.

“We want to keep as many of those as we can locally for the workforce and/or supporting their continuation of education, whether it be through CLTCC, LSUA, LCU or Northwestern,” said Powell.

So the end goal is attracting and retaining our students, a community effort that takes innovation and strong partnerships.

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