Over 200 tour AMI school in Branch
By Paul Kedinger
LSN STAFF WRITER
BRANCH – The organizers of a community open house at the Acadiana Marine Institute’s (AMI) residential school in Branch were overwhelmed with the turnout for the two-hour event Thursday.
Between noon and 2 p.m. over 200 visitors toured the school for adjudicated youth between the ages of 12 and 18.
At one point, the parking lot of the center was so full that a Suburban truck was pressed into duty to transport visitors who parking on the side of Celestine La Tortue Road.
The visitors followed a tour based on a typical day for an AMI student. At various stations, AMI teachers and other staff workers described how the school practices behavior modification, family life, education, and plans for future programs.
Kathy Greenwood, director of academics, explained the school hopes to provide classes in agricultural mechanics.
“Our job and goal is to figure out how each student learns,” explained Greenwood, as she noted individual academic plans are prepared for each student, who range scholastically from fourth to ninth grade, plus GED candidates.
The academic director reported with pride that two current students have obtained their GED program. Statewide, the Associated Marine Institute program are building relationships with community colleges with hopes that the students may attend vocational courses or college preparatory classes.
Following a tour of the campus, visitors sat down to a lunch catered by Fezzo’s.
There are a total of 57 Associated Marine Institutes, with nine of those in Louisiana, specifically Raceland, Baton Rouge, Alexandria, Donaldsonville, Harvey, Tallulah, Ragley and Bossier City. The Branch center in the only residential school in Louisiana; it serves a total of 36 young men.
The first AMI program opened in Boca Raton, Florida. Today, AMI’s programs extend to the states of Florida, George, South Carolina, Virginia, Louisiana, Texas, Illinois and Pennsylvania.
Students are referred to AMI by the
Office of Juvenile Justice from Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary and Vermilion Parishes. The average stay for a students at the Branch residential school is six to nine months.