New headmaster seeks to improve on Huntington’s strengths

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 31, 2000

FERRIDAY – Huntington School Principal Warren Enterkin is baffled that anyone would want to feature him in a newspaper article.Hard-working faculty, staff and students, and parents who faithfully support the school — &uot;it’s these other people that deserve the credit, not me,&uot;&160;Enterkin said in his usual low-key style.

Nevertheless, the 32-year veteran of Concordia Parish public schools is in the spotlight now by virtue of his new job as principal of Huntington, a 246-student private school in Ferriday.

When he was hired in early July to head the school — replacing Russ Green, who resigned in May after three years as principal — Enterkin said he would need some time to get his bearings before setting forth a plan of improvements to be made at the school.

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After all, he had been happily retired from education for five years, living the quiet life on a farm outside Ferriday and enjoying time with his five grandchildren.

Getting back into the swing of school life would take some getting used to.

Still, Enterkin said in an interview just after his appointment to the post that he looked forward to the opportunity to work for the school.

&uot;I have a vested interest up there, since I&160;have a grandchild (grandson Luke) there and lots of friends and acquaintances do, too,&uot;&160;Enterkin, 62, said then.

&uot;I&160;just got excited about all the things the school had going on and has the potential to start in the future and wanted to be a part of it.&uot;

And from the way Enterkin talks about the school, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, it is easy to see that he still feels that way.

&uot;We have a lot of strengths — namely, our people,&uot; Enterkin said. &uot;For example, we have a great deal of parent support. Parents realize we don’t have a big maintenance crew and that, as a result, they’re needed more to help do those things.&uot;

Jobs tackled by Huntington parents include repairs, landscaping, maintenance of sports facilities and painting as well as other traditional tasks such as chaperoning events and serving as &uot;room mothers.&uot;

&uot;It’s nothing to look out of my office and see parents out there planting flowers, and no one asked them to — they just did it,&uot;&160;Enterkin said.

In addition to parental involvement, Enterkin said the school’s smaller size is one of its strengths, in part because it makes it easier for students, teachers and parents to know each other well.

&uot;The teachers know these students’ parents and grandparents,&uot;&160;he said. &uot;We’re a part of the community.&uot;

But despite those strengths, there is still room for improvement, mainly in the technological arena, Enterkin said.

&uot;By the (spring) semester, we should be wired for the Internet in every classroom,&uot; he said. &uot;That will allow our teachers to take college courses long distance, and we’ll be able to offer a wider variety of subjects to our students.

&uot;We want to be better able to educate children for the 21st century … and to have the technology to compete on a global level.&uot;

Rather than setting forth an improvement plan for the school for the next several years, Enterkin said he simply plans to follow his philosophy of continuous improvement.

&uot;I don’t have a long-term plan to change the school,&uot;&160;he said. &uot;We just need to improve year by year.&uot;

Enterkin knows it is a very different educational world than when he attended Ferriday High School in the 1950s — and just with regards to technology.

&uot;Back then, the worst problems you had were students chewing gum and not bringing pencils to school,&uot;&160;Enterkin said, shaking his head and laughing. &uot;There was none of the drugs or rage with guns that you hear about today.&uot;

While acknowledging that Huntington has avoided the types of tragedies that have made headlines nationwide, he said that even before he arrived as principal, the school had taken steps to help avoid such pitfalls.

For safety, for example, students are not allowed to walk their vehicles during the school day, and only the school buildings’ front doors remain open to restrict access to the buildings.

The school was also the first in Concordia Parish to offer sex abstinence classes, and it conducts random drug screening tests every six weeks.

&uot;I think drug screenings actually help students resist peer pressure because if someone offers them drugs, they can just say, ‘I can’t take that risk. They test us for drugs at school’,&uot; Enterkin said.

He also believes the school’s extracurricular offerings also help keep students from such pressures.

&uot;About 75 to 80 percent of our students are involved in sports, cheerleading or other activities in addition to school,&uot;&160;he said. &uot;It keeps them busy and gives them good role models.&uot;

Enterkin said his dream is that more students will come back to the Ferriday area after college to assume leadership roles in their community.

&uot;Ideally, I’d like to see them come back to teach here,&uot;&160;he said. &uot;Teaching is kind of like the ministry — you don’t do it for the money — but it has its rewards.&uot;