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LaPREP Finishes its 28th Annual Summer Session

July 17, 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SHREVEPORT, LA- LaPREP (Louisiana Preparatory Program) will complete its twenty-eighth annual summer session on the campus of LSU in Shreveport in the University Center at 1 p.m. on Thursday, July 18.  Ms. Deidra Lemons Johnson, the Director of Strategic Services in AARP’s National Headquarters and a LaPREP alumnus, will be the featured speaker.

Fifty students have attended this summer’s program, 30 as beginning first-year participants and 20 as continuing second-year participants. All of the participants have been identified as high-ability middle school students: 76% are minority students, and 62% are female. 78% of this year’s participants come from lower-middle to lower income families, and 46% will be first-generation college students. 

The goal of LaPREP is to identify, encourage, and instruct competent middle and early high school students, with special attention to include women and minority students, who, as a result of the program, will successfully complete a college program preferably in math, science, or engineering. 

Many of LaPREP’s participants have been and will be first-generation college-bound students.  LaPREP charges no fees or tuition of any kind, and the program provides lunches and transportation via SPORTRAN bus passes. The objective of LaPREP includes the development of abstract reasoning, problem solving, and writing skills. The academic components include Logic, Engineering, Probability and Statistics, Algebraic Structures, Problem Solving, Technical Writing, Cyber Security, Leadership and Writing Skills. Participants hear from engineers, scientists, and mathematicians, including many minority professionals, who discuss career opportunities and their educational requirements. Other aspects include college and career awareness, a study skills seminar, and field trips to local businesses and industries. 

LaPREP has been very successful in achieving its goals of encouraging and educating its participants and has won several local, regional, and national awards. Notably, our tracking records indicate that no current or former participant has dropped out of high school, and of the first 514 graduates of LaPREP who have graduated from high school, all have enrolled in college with approximately 80% majoring in math or science. Moreover, all of these high school graduates have stated that LaPREP has helped them in their math and science education. 

More than 830 young people from the Shreveport/Bossier area have participated in LaPREP to date. Every LaPREP graduate is eligible to receive a LaPREP scholarship to LSU Shreveport as an entering freshman, in the amount of $500 a semester. This four-year award is in addition to any level of TOPS award that the student receives from the state of Louisiana.

The Shreveport City Council has twice awarded LaPREP for its contribution in math and science to the youth in Shreveport.  The Mathematical Association of America gave LaPREP an award for its contribution in mathematics in the state of Louisiana.  LaPREP has also received awards from the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, and the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Foundation. The program has been featured on C-SPAN and has been the subject of a documentary film that aired nationally on the ABC network.  In addition, evaluations contributed by the participants, their parents, and local and state officials who have visited LaPREP have been very high. It should be noted that the LaPREP director has also received many prestigious local, regional, and national awards for quality teaching, public service, and his work with LaPREP. In 2007, Dr. Carlos Spaht was awarded in Washington, D.C., United States Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation and CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education). Other awards bestowed upon Dr. Spaht include the Louisiana Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation; The Louisiana/Mississippi Distinguished University Teaching Award in Mathematics in Recognition of Extraordinarily Successful Teaching by the Mathematical Association of America; The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award (which is the highest national award given for public service); and The Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring by the National Science Foundation and the President of the United States.

In 2008 and 2009, LaPREP received state funding to support the growth and expansion of the program.  This support allowed LaPREP to increase the number of students served by developing a “pre-LaPREP” math and English program for students entering the 5th and 6th grades and a “post-LaPREP” computer animation program for LaPREP graduates. Through this expansion effort, LaPREP and its Associated Programs is now able to serve up to 138 students instead of the 50-60 students that it normally serves in its core LaPREP program.

The two-year pre-LaPREP GetSet for LaPREP program is held in both Shreveport and Mansfield. GetSet offers academic and social encouragement and instruction to high-ability, mostly minority students who are about to enter the 5th and 6th grades. Its participants study problem solving/math facts and reading/writing skills four days per week for four weeks in June.  They also enjoy supervised recreation, counseling, motivational speakers, and field trips. Parent and student comments have indicated the overwhelming success of the program.  Leaders of the two communities have also praised the GetSet programs as valuable and rare opportunities for their high-ability students. Pre- and post-test results from GetSet have indicated a significant improvement in both math and reading/writing.  This year pre- and post-test scores increased almost 16% in math and 34% in English/Language Arts. Students completing the second summer of GetSet are eligible to apply for participation in LaPREP. 

LaPREP’s post-LaPREP program, the LaPIXEL Academy, is a collaborative undertaking of the LSUS Digital Arts program and LaPREP. Participants are taught the use of software to create visual effects that are used in lucrative fields such as advertising, cyber security programs, bio-imagery, and computer gaming. Held on the campus of LSUS, the four-week program includes instruction in desktop computer graphics, story development, character design, sprite animation, and video game creation. Participants use their newly acquired skills to create a playable video game from start to finish. The program has been highly successful and has received excellent reviews from the participants, participants’ parents, and the LSUS administration.

CONTINUITY

The LaPIXEL Academy bridges the age gap from LaPREP graduation to the time when the graduates may apply for work and study in the laboratories of the LSU Health Science Center through the JUMPSTART Program. In the JUMPSTART program, students conduct medical research with faculty at the health science center.

There are no other programs in our area that do what LaPREP and its related programs do – mentoring and instructing the high-ability, mostly lower income, mostly minority students from 5th grade through high school and into college.  The budget required to fund this entire family of programs is approximately $200,000, a small price tag for the results LaPREP can claim: No graduate of LaPREP has dropped out of high school, and all who have reached college-age have enrolled in college. 

The sponsors of this year’s program include The Community Foundation of North Louisiana, the Grayson Foundation, AEP/SWEPCO, United Way of Northwest Louisiana, the Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation, and several friends and supporters of LaPREP.

In addition, LaPREP has already secured $65,000 from The Community Foundation of North Louisiana to help run next year’s program.  

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