Students in the "RISE Connection" program in Calcasieu Parish schools are making Christmas yard decorations in their classroom this month. RISE stands for "Reaching Into Secondary Education." Darald "Bubba" Doga is their carpentry instructor.
"This is a Carpenter 1 class," said Doga. "It's a high school credit. What we're doing is teaching them a trade for their future, for better knowledge and teaching them electric tools. How to do a lot of woodworking with a commercial arts theme."
The students are taught hands-on through the process of making yard decorations and they start with a chop saw. They're taught the entire process from planning and design to painting.
"I learned a lot in this class," said Andrew Blanchard, a student from Moss Bluff. "Before I came in here, I didn't learn a lot. But when I did, I learned to use a jigsaw, I learned a lot before I had come from other schools."
"These students for some reason or other due to the LEAP tests have been held back one grade, but they passed academically," said Doga. "Instead of them falling behind and repeating all of the 8th grade, we stand behind them and teach them 9th grade credits and then they get a second chance to take their LEAP over and won't fall that far behind."
"It's kind of fun," said Barbara Thompson, a student from Lake Charles. "It's not like most teachers, they expect you to read it and get it. But over here they actually help you get it more better again than regular schools."
Once these students are placed back at their home schools, it's hoped they'll continue on into graduating and entering a trade school. Their ornaments will be on display at a special Christmas Open House on Wednesday, December 18, 2013, at the RISE Connection Center, on Shattuck St. in Lake Charles.