Coteau-Bayou Blue gets jump start at business world

Audrey H. Trapp
May 5, 2008
Houma man found dead
May 7, 2008
Audrey H. Trapp
May 5, 2008
Houma man found dead
May 7, 2008

Mr. Ronnie’s Famous Hot Donuts has been a landmark on Tunnel Boulevard in Houma for decades serving up pastries and java, but the shop was being put to a different use last Wednesday by Junior Achievement volunteer Chad Doucet in a fourth grade class at Coteau-Bayou Blue Elementary School.

“Where do the cardboard boxes come from that Mr. Ronnie’s donuts come in?” Doucet asked the class. “A farm?”

“No, the paper mill,” a student responded.

“What is the donut called?” Doucet asked.

“A product,” was the response.

Doucet, who works for Whitney Bank, was among 23 Junior Achievement volunteers involved in area business who taught students at Coteau-Bayou Blue about industry and business as part of a special one-day event sponsored by the Society of Louisiana Certified Public Accountants.

Junior Achievement is an 89-year-old organization which provides instructors and teaching materials educating kindergartners through 12th-graders about the world of industry and business, supplementing regular classroom teaching.

The Junior Achievement program normally conducts lessons once a week over a five-week period in the spring and fall, but the organization decided to try condensing all five lessons into a “JA in a Day” event to ease the process for the volunteers, said Ronnie Musacchia, parish representative for Junior Achievement of Greater New Orleans.

Coteau-Bayou Blue was the only school in the Tri-parishes participating.

The event was also held at southern Louisiana elementary schools in Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles, New Orleans and Shreveport.

“The community gets involved,” Musacchia said. “Public school system administrators love that. Kids get antsy around this time. It’s good for teachers.”

“It’s important for test scores,” said Coteau-Bayou Blue school counselor Loretta Tanner. “The volunteers get a taste of what the classroom is like. It’s also one of the best days teachers have.”

“And the kids get a break,” she said. “They can listen to someone new.”

Capital One bank provided 11 volunteer instructors. Besides Whitney Bank, other instructors came from Beyer Stagni & Company Certified Public Accountants in Houma and South Louisiana Bank. Three independent accountants also volunteered.

Topics covered by the instructors included advertising, economic resources, mass production, international trade and careers.

Kerry Alley, with the Louisiana Department of Revenue, talked about radio advertising with his fifth-grade class.

“People listen to the radio not so much anymore unless they’re driving in a car,” Alley told the class, “so commercials on the radio are designed to be heard in a car.”

“There’s advertising in the morning directed to you because it’s heard on the way to school,” he said. “The advertising heard in the afternoon may be more relaxing. So advertisers concentrate on the time of day.”

“So what are some of the things advertisers do?” he asked. “Do they just ask you to buy their product? No, they use loud music to try to grab your attention.”

Houma accountant Jodie Arceneaux discussed the difference between mass production and single unit production with her fifth-grade class, stating that unit production is better for creating pieces of jewelry but mass production is superior for constructing submarines.

One student learned the lesson, pointing out that unit production is less efficient than mass production.

In a class on international trade, Capital One’s Cathy LeBoeuf asked her sixth-grade students whether any of their parents had to visit other countries as part of their jobs.

A couple of students responded that their parents had to go to Canada and Mexico because of their jobs in the oil industry.

“It’s awesome,” said Megan King with Capital One in Thibodaux. “It gives them a day that’s different. Junior Achievement has it down to a T.”

Fourth graders at Coteau-Bayou Blue Elementary School get a lesson in business courtesy of the Junior Achievement program. Last week, 23 business volunteers were on hand to teach students about industry and business as part of a special one-day regional event supported by the Society of Louisiana Certified Public Accountants. * Photo by KEYON K. JEFF