Downtown Development DistrictA Passion for ProgressDowntown Events Coming Up...

Strong schools are an important part of any community. That's why downtown Baton Rouge is proud to host some of the best schools in the city.

From preschool and kindergarten programs to elementary, high school, college and beyond, downtown offers a full-range of high-quality educational opportunities for those who live and work in the area.

One particularly exceptional school is South Boulevard Foreign Language Academic Immersion Magnet School. Located in Beauregard Town, just minutes away from the State Capitol, South Boulevard is the only public school in East Baton Rouge Parish offering foreign language immersion.

Through this innovative program, native speaking teachers from all over the world provide instruction in core academic areas such as math, science and social studies. Students spend at least 60 percent of their day learning in French or Spanish and develop proficiency in the second language by hearing and using it to learn their school subjects rather than by studying the language itself.

Research shows bilingual children have a number of advantages over monolingual children.

South Boulevard Principal Cheryl Miller says, "Learning a second language opens up a whole new part of the brain and enhances a child's cognitive development. Bilingual children tend to perform better in other subjects like math and science, and they have an increased capacity for learning other languages as adults."

Students also learn about other countries and their unique cultures. The goal is for students to become proficient in the second language and develop increased cultural awareness while reaching a high level of academic achievement.

"Because we also teach multiculturalism here, our kids are more open to other people and other cultures," Miller continued. "They seem to have a much better understanding of the world and how it works."

Since becoming a dedicated magnet school in 1997, South Boulevard has steadily matured and now ranks among the best elementary schools in the state.

EBR School Superintendent John Dilworth says, "I have had a chance to meet with the staff and parents from S. Blvd. on many occasions and I am impressed by their dedication to the school. By immersing students in a language and utilizing it in every part of the learning process, research has shown children are not only exposed to other cultures in a real and meaningful way but also increase cognitive learning in every subject area."

In 2008, student performance scores increased more than 20 points over the previous academic year earning South Boulevard a four-star school rating and the best accountability label for "exemplary academic growth" from the Louisiana Department of Education.

Metro Councilwoman Tara Wicker, who has three children currently enrolled at South Boulevard, attributes the success to a strong school administration and highly motivated parents that are actively involved.

"Our kids are really achieving," she says. "We have excellent teachers and school leaders, and there's so much parent participation and community involvement. If you are planning to go to an event at South Boulevard, you'd better be there early!"

Another shining star in the heart of the Capital City is St. James Episcopal Day School. Founded on the corner of 4th and Convention Street in 1948, St. James is a downtown landmark that has focused on preparing children for a lifetime of learning for more than six decades.

In 2009, St. James was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. "We're very proud of this achievement," said Linda Chauviere, St. James' Head Of School. "Only 4 percent of the schools in the nation have been recognized with this prestigious award. We're pleased to be one of them."

The Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private elementary, middle and high schools that are either academically superior or that demonstrate dramatic gains in student achievement. For private schools to receive this designation, students' scores must consistently rank in the top 10 percent of the country on nationally standardized tests over a period of at least 5 years.

St. James is one of only seven schools in Louisiana and 314 schools nationwide to receive 2009's coveted Blue Ribbon award, which is the federal government's highest school honor.

Chauviere said the school's philosophy of focusing on the whole child and blending the best of traditional education with 21st-century technology and methodology has helped St. James achieve this high level of academic excellence.

"Technology is integrated into every aspect of the classroom. You look at us from the outside, and it looks like a little, old red brick building. But on the inside you see that our kids are learning with cutting-edge technology."

In addition to its high-tech classrooms and nationally recognized curriculum, St. James' convenient location in the heart of the city offers parents and students some unique perks.

"One of the best parts about being downtown is that our kids have easy access to the State Capitol, the Shaw Center for the Arts, the Louisiana Art and Science Museum, and even the river to fly kites," said Chauviere. "This all contributes to the learning experience."

Fr. J. Mark Holland, the Rector at St. James, added that the school's convenient downtown location also makes it easy for parents to visit their kids throughout the school day.

"We had more than 350 parents at Thanksgiving lunch, and we have dozens of them sitting with their kids in the cafeteria on any given day," he said.

To add to the excitement in the air, Downtown will soon be the classroom for two newly approved technology-based charter high schools; The Mentorship Academy of Science and Technology and the Mentorship Academy of Digital Media and Art. One school will focus on the digital media, and the second will focus on science, technology, engineering and math. Brian J. Dixon, who was until recently an administrator at San Diego's High Tech High was recently hired as executive director of the schools.

The schools have been in the making since spring 2008 and are planning to open in early July 2010. The schools will bring 250 ninth-graders - 125 students per school ­ - drawn from as many as eight school districts, with a total high school student body of 1000 students by 2013.

Bryan Jones, president of the Helix Network board said, "This is an incredible opportunity for the Baton Rouge region, and particularly East Baton Rouge schools, to move forward on a truly innovative educational concept."

Supporters of the two schools have talked with the Shaw Center for the Arts as the location where the school will hold classes and are also exploring additional Downtown spaces.


For additional information and a map of schools in and around Downtown, go to

To learn more about St. James Episcopal Day School, please visit or call (225) 344-0805.

To learn more about South Boulevard Foreign Language Academic Immersion Magnet School, please visit or call (225) 343-6630.

To learn more about the Helix Schools, please visit

For a full listing of upcoming events, visit our website.

227 Florida St.  |  Baton Rouge, LA 70801  |  (225) 389-5520 Office (225) 389-5523 Fax  |  8:00 a.m. - 5 p.m. M-F

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