Students envision the future

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCKWoodvale Elementary School students, from left, LaTrayvia Thorn, Sophie Henderson and Sanai Harris learn about commerce on the Mississippi River on Friday during the school's annual symposium. This year, students learned about Louisiana business, trade and culture.
Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCKWoodvale Elementary School students, from left, LaTrayvia Thorn, Sophie Henderson and Sanai Harris learn about commerce on the Mississippi River on Friday during the school's annual symposium. This year, students learned about Louisiana business, trade and culture.

Youths offer both practical, fanciful ideas at annual event

Electric, flying and pizza-oven cars, colorful buildings, shopping in outer space and libraries with books that fly are just some ideas Woodvale Elementary School students shared Friday during a parent-organized symposium themed “Louisiana: Building Our Future.”

The annual event featured different lessons centered on Louisiana, such as its agriculture and other industries, natural resources, such as the Mississippi River, and sustainable practices, such as reducing plastic waste, to help improve the future and related to the students’ roles in shaping it.

The symposium’s theme is timely as the Lafayette Parish school system implements major changes designed to improve overall academic performance and facilities, and the city is in master planning mode for the coming decades, said Heather Blanchard, a Woodvale parent and symposium chairwoman.

Students offered practical and fantastical predictions about the year 2020 in drawings and statements.

One student drew a bridge over the coulee that separates her street from the Horse Farm, which will be a park. Another student drew neighborhoods high above the Earth to show his wish for space colonization.

Some students envisioned a more environmental-friendly future, including more solar-powered homes and electric cars. One student said “our wetlands will be a worldwide tourist attraction with waterfalls.”

For Johnny Taylor, 7, Lafayette, the future will look a like the pages of a Dr. Seuss book, but the buildings will be constructed with recycled materials. In his future, Taylor is a paleontologist who discovers “a new kind of dinosaur” in the “new museum of the desert.”

“It’s crazy and has some weird feet and some weird hands,” the second-grader said.

Fellow second-grader Kirsten Newton, 7, plans to work as a doctor in a “very tall” hospital helping people who are sick. “I’m looking forward to a good future,” she said.

In the week leading up to the event, teachers incorporated the symposium’s theme into their lessons, said Principal Monique Vidos. “This is the finale. It’s a fun learning experience for the kids,” she said.

Woodvale parent Kelli Stanford and 15 of her agriculture students at Lafayette High School taught the elementary school students a lesson on crops in Louisiana and how food gets onto students’ plates. The high school teacher said all 150 of her agriculture students helped to develop the lesson.

“They wanted to promote the importance of agriculture in Louisiana and teach them about the farm-to-table process,” Stanford said of her students’ role in the younger students’ lesson Friday.

As part of the lesson, students planted a small strawberry plant that they could take home. At the end of the lesson, a mini-strawberry cupcake awaited them.

Students’ predictions were documented on camera with the help of Acadiana Open Channel.

Parent Missy Miller interviewed students about their predictions on foods and how schools, libraries and buildings will look. Robots and games coming to life were popular predictions.

“These things you’re talking about, you can make happen,” Miller told the students and stressed to them the importance of staying in school to make their vision of the future a reality.