Teachers, parents and community are what make graduates of Lakeside and Sibley High School successful, according to one former teacher.
Retired educator and administrator Richard Noles brought attention to the many successful graduates from the schools that go on to complete medical school.
"There are so many graduates from the area that have gone on to be professionals in various fields, including these who have chosen to become medical doctors," Noles said. "To the best of my knowledge, there are seven medical school graduates from Sibley or Lakeside high schools. There is also another in medical school now and others that have been accepted."
Noles said parents and community play a large role in the success of students and education in south Webster Parish. He also noted that for schools to excel, quality teachers and good administrators are needed. Noles said churches and businesses play a large roll in supporting education.
"I think, overall, the south Webster school system has produced this kind of student because we have wonderful families and parents in the area," Noles said. "The parents value education. They support the school and always have. They make sure their kids go to school, sit down, listen and behave and if they don't – and the kids gets in trouble at school, well, they haven't seen trouble until they get home."
"I'm very proud of Sibley, and now Lakeside, and the community that supports it," said Noles, whose daughter, Melody Noles Hawkins, is one of those new doctors.
Noles said that there have been several students accepted to medical school and others have gone on to be professionals in various fields.
The following doctors were asked to comment on how their south Webster education influenced them.
1990 Sibley High School (SHS) graduate
"I think the work ethic around that area has a lot to do with the success of students. Kids see their parents working hard and providing for them so it's something they pick up pretty quick. The teachers are great - they know you and your family. They are there to support you. Everybody in the community knows you and supports you.
I really think there is a stigma about kids from small schools and they cannot do as much as kids from larger areas. I think showing kids that there have been successes come from this area only helps to encourage more kids to go for it.
You don't have to be particularly smart to be a doctor. You've just got to be willing to put in the time and effort. That is really what it comes down to."
1996 graduate of SHS
Little Rock, Arkansas
"For me, when I got to college, I had never taken physics or advanced courses, because it wasn't offered then. So when you compare my experience to other class A schools with more students and more resources, you could say in a way that I was less educated. But because the teachers and community worked with the resources they had, I was able to follow their lead and work hard as well. That has really helped me out.
There is only so much you can do when you have that small of a student population. But they did everything they could and did it well.
The community really fosters the mindset to be hard working and persevering.
I think part of it is the work ethic that is instilled in the students that come through. You really need the drive and the 'stick to it' mentality that comes as being a part of the community and school. Once you leave high school and go on to college, it gets tougher and med school even more so."
Amanda Allen Williams
1998 SHS graduate
"Sibley was a wonderful school, and I got a great education there. I think there is a reason there are so many successful graduates from Sibley High in many different fields. The desire and drive to become professionals, not necessarily in the medical field, is very prevalent in the area. The teachers I had made sure to instill a drive of excellence, that mediocre wasn't enough. I think that encouraged us to want to do more. There were those teachers who go above and beyond what is required of them. Because of that, I feel like I was prepared for college. It didn't make it easy, but I was ready to work hard.
I always knew I would come back to the area. There is such a great sense of community and it is such a great place to raise kids. It is home and just what a 'home town' is supposed to be. Where you can get to know people and you can have a positive influence on the community."
1990 SHS graduate
Family Practice, Minden
"I think I had wonderful teachers that taught me well. I would say that those teachers are something else – very special. There are some, even to this day, that I keep in contact with. Many of those teachers helped me and now I am able to help them as a doctor in a medical practice.
It was never a question if I would practice in the area. If it was available to me, I always knew I would come home. What better place to come than home?
We were encouraged to strive for every goal we set for ourselves. Through the athletics we were taught to set goals and try and meet them. Being able to persevere and do the things you have to do to meet your goal was very beneficial moving forward through college and medical school."
Other Sibley High School graduates that have completed medical school include Michelle Pittman, Ben Bumgardner, Martin Watts and Melody Noles Hawkins.
Several others have been accepted in medical school. One Lakeside graduate, Matt Bumgardner is currently enrolled in medical school.