Bunkie Magnet becoming more ‘magnetic’

Trying to establish 'performing arts' magnet program

Bunkie Magnet High is becoming more “magnetic” over the past year, attracting more students from across the parish, Avoyelles Parish School Board members were told.

Superintendent Blaine Dauzat said Bunkie High’s enrollment was 70-75 percent black five years ago. It is about 55 percent black now.

“It is more of a true magnet,” Dauzat told board members.

The report was presented to the Education Committee on March 18 and to the full board in the committee’s report at the April 2 board meeting.

The magnet element at the school has been the project-based education method, which is a different way to present information for students to learn.

It is called “active learning” and “student-centered,” in which questions are asked during the learning process, rather than a “paper-based, teacher-centered” method where facts are presented for students to memorize.

A major problem has been a high turnover rate for teachers at Bunkie Magnet. Teachers who were taught in the project-based learning approach left after a year or two, so the program has never taken root and has not been an effective magnet.

SHIFTING TO ARTS

“We are shifting the magnet from project-based education to performing arts,” Dauzat noted.

Efforts are currently under way to “attract a good performing arts teacher” to head the Bunkie program, he said.

A top-notch performing arts educator will be essential to developing a successful program and effective magnet, he added.

Board member Robin Moreau said arts programs are good for students and schools.

“It is money well-spent, especially if they can start the programs in elementary schools.”

Dauzat agreed, saying it could be possible for the high school performing arts teachers to teach a course in one or two elementary schools to prepare the young students for the high school programs.

“It is hard to have a successful band program when the first time you put an instrument in a student’s hand is in 7th, 8th or 9th grade,” Dauzat said.

The committee was told that Bunkie’s new auditorium addition to the gymnasium could be finished in time for graduation this May, but the parking may not be ready.

If it is not ready to host the event, the school has reserved Haas Auditorium as a backup site.

The performing arts magnet was a major argument in favor of constructing the auditorium addition.

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