White Castle High School’s principal Addie Loupe is one of Louisiana’s semifinalists for the prestigious state title Principal of the Year.

To get there, the state’s Department of Education (DOE) had narrow the field from about 200 applicants from Louisiana’s 131 school districts to 24, eight for each level – elementary, middle and high.

“First, principals in the district vote for Principal of the Year and I was the one selected for Iberville Parish,” Loupe said. From there it was on to the state contest.

“It’s a very intense application process with about six essay questions and I had to submit a lot of other material,” she said. “Over spring break, I was notified that I was a semifinalist…Just making it to the semifinalist level.”

“Then the fun really started,” Loupe said. “You have to do Skype interviews and some essay questions and submit some more pieces of the application.

One of the questions she was presented with was, “What’s your greatest accomplishment as an educator.”

“As a principal, I think my greatest accomplishment is moving our graduation rate so high,” Loupe said.

When she became principal at WCHS, the school’s graduation rate was 77 percent, then last year it moved up to 82 percent and “this year,  we are projected to have a graduation rate of over 90 percent.”

Reaching 90 percent met the state’s expectation of the school, but “this will be our first time to be at 90 percent,” Loupe said. “It may be the first time in the district.”

She is also very proud of the results the school has produced from one of its special education students, who will graduate this year with a certification in welding.

“We do a lot of work with kids like that,” Loupe said.

Another notable accomplishment is the improvement of the school’s state DOE grade.

“When I came aboard as principal we had been assigned a D and we have since chiseled away at that and when grades were released in the fall, we were a B, 89.9, which is phenomenal,” Loupe said. “Now we’re on our way to an A. That’s our new slogan.”

Not only has academics improved under Loupe’s guidance, but athletics as well. As a math teacher for 16 years before becoming principal three years ago, she also coached the girls basketball and volleyball teams.

WCHS’ Lady Bulldogs earned a state championship in basketball while she was their coach and this year, the boys basketball team brought home their second state championship trophy with back-to-back titles.

“We’ve taken that champion mentality and moved it into our classrooms so our students are champions too,” Loupe said. She seems as proud of the school’s academic improvement but its athletic excellence as well.

“When I get my ring for the boys’ championship, I will have three,” she said.

Another essay question Loupe faced on her way to the final 24 candidates, “What are some changes you would like to see in education in Louisiana.”

“I went with having more people go into the field of education as the thing I would change,” she responded. “We definitely have a teacher shortage.”

“I think we support that here in Iberville Parish by providing so much support for our new teachers to help them be as successful as possible,” Loupe continued.

A native of White Castle who has spent her entire career at the town’s high school, Loupe earned her bachelor’s degree in physical education, minoring in mathematics, and a master’s degree from Southern University.

“I started my teaching career here,” she said. “My first job as an administrator was here, my first job as an assistant principal was here and now I’m the principal.”

“I have a lot of pride in what I do because I’m here, at home,” Loupe said. “We share the same grocery store, we shop together, this is my community.”