Laura Bush re-visits parish schoolsMar 9th, 2012 | By admin | Category: School News
Former First Lady, Laura Bush, was at Chalmette High School last Thursday to hand out the last of the library grants for newly-reopened Gulf Coast schools as apart of her Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries.
Arabi and Chalmette Elementary School, along with 10 other Gulf Coast Schools, received nearly $50,000 each to rebuild their new libraries. Each of the district’s school libraries also received grants as they reopened, bringing the total contribution from the Foundation to the school system over $500,000.
In the aftermath of the destruction of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Bush began fundraising through her Foundation to restore library books to schools hardest hit by the devastating storms.
Bush announced Thursday that each of the schools would also receive additional small grants from the Foundation. The awards ceremony offered a reunion of sorts for the 116 schools along the Gulf Coast that received awards over the course of the past six years.
Chalmette High School hosted the first grant awards presentation in May 2006, as a recipient of a grant in the first round, and the Foundation felt it fitting to award its last grants in the same venue.
“Each time I returned to the Gulf Coast since the hurricanes, I am amazed by the strength of the school districts’ personnel and their efforts at rebuilding schools and libraries for children,” Bush said. “We knew we had to take the steps necessary to provide libraries in the schools, since reading is such an integral part of education.”
Upon her arrival at the site, Bush was greeted by School Board President, Diana Dysart, Superintendent of Schools, Doris Voitier, CHS Principal Wayne Warner, and others.
Bush then met with the current grant recipients before heading into the school’s new Cultural Arts Theater for the formal awards presentation. She was accompanied by the Foundation’s Chairperson and former Ambassador to Switzerland and Lichtenstein, Pam Willeford.
Bush’s visit ito Chalmette High is her fourth. Her initial visit was in January of 2006 to witness the progress being made with its reopening as the Unified school, and she returned in May of 2006 to make her first grant awards presentations. She also visited the school as it hosted its annual Day of Reflection breakfast for the community, in August of 2010–an event that marked the 5th anniversary of the storm.
Superintendant of Schools Doris Voitier credits the former First Lady with spreading the voice of hope in some of the school district and community’s bleakest times.
“We all gather this morning to honor Mrs. Bush for caring enough to become and stay involved,” Voitier said.
Participating in the presentation was the Chalmette High School Band, which played “The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You” as Bush entered the theater, the CHS chorus, and Student Council President Sophie Boudreaux who was tapped to introduce Bush to the attendees. Bush was also presented with a video prepared by the school system showcasing many of the grant recipients as they honored her generosity.