Math, Science, and Arts Academy- West in Iberville Parish Selected as National Magnet School Award of Excellence

Staff Writer
Plaquemine Post South

Iberville Parish School System’s (IPSS)Math, Science and Arts Academy–West in Plaquemine was selected as a national Magnet School of Excellence Award from the Magnet Schools of America.

            The school will be honored at the Magnet Schools of America Conference national meeting on May 17. The announcement was received by the school on Thursday, according to IPSS Academic Officer Elvis J. Cavalier.

            “This school is only three years old and it is drawing students back to our public schools, bringing more than 500 Iberville-resident students back into the parish public school system,” said P. Edward Cancienne, Jr., Superintendent. “Why?,” asks Dr. Cancienne. “Because the program is highly innovative and uses a technology-rich curriculum in a college prep environment. We have high expectations of our students!  

            Under the leadership of Chief Academic Officer, Elvis J. Cavalier, the MSA-West was chosen by the Magnet Schools of America among candidates nationwide based on criteria such as desegregation, innovative instructional strategies, student achievement, and parent and community involvement. The MSA-West, located in Plaquemine, now has kindergarten through 11th grades. “It is under major renovations because of its popularity, as demonstrated by the swelling ranks of students and their parents enrolled in its PTA (1200 active members)!

            “This award is a great credit to the students, faculty, administration, AND the vision and direction of the Iberville Parish School System, who have supported continuously since its start three years ago,” added Dr. Cancienne. 

            In making the announcement to students and faculty, the school showed a 20 second video that was produced as part of its application for the award. The high tempo video piece conveys the theme and demonstrates why the school should be awarded the national honor. Entitled “Cultivating an Academic Family in a Digital Environment,” the video clearly depicts the multi-faceted, college prep, arts-intensive curriculum of the program. The application was written by Iberville Parish faculty member Daniel Butcher and the video was created by civics and digital media teacher Chandler Smith.

            The MSA-West’s short, but unrivaled three year history has as its focus, technology (all students have Apple laptops), arts, and enrichment, says Iberville Parish Chief Academic Officer Elvis J. Cavalier. “The community is hungry for quality programming, and this school has proven its approach works, as demonstrated by the exceptional scores in reading and math proficiency,” said Cavalier.  The school, which has an open enrollment, has been supported through a tax initiative approved by the voters in 2008. MSA-West, and other schools, are now receiving major renovations and upgrades, including technology. The MSA-West, and its sister school in St. Gabriel, will have their first senior graduating classes in 2012.

            MSA West students have scored in the top rankings of the state and have received major awards at regional and state science competitions, literary rally, arts contests, and music festivals. The school started an orchestra program with seven students in 2008 and now has 125 members that play for productions and community events.

            Iberville Parish Schools will be attending the 29th Magnet Schools of America Conference in Indiana to receive the award during the Magnet Schools for America conference awards ceremony scheduled in May. William Magnotta, president of Magnet Schools of America and Dr. Robert Brooks, Executive Director, will present the award during the magnet school extravaganza.