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Vernon Parish Superintendent of Schools James Williams speaks of Isabelle Massart-Bursh's (center) contributions to arts programming at Leesville Junior High School. The school board, along with LJHS principal Angel Williams, far right, recognized Bursh on Tuesday.

LEESVILLE -- Leesville Junior High School art teacher Isabelle Massart-Bursh was recognized Tuesday by the Vernon Parish School Board for her dedication to arts programming at the school and in the community.

Bursh and her students recently created and placed "Peace Poles" at Magnolia Park near West Leesville Elementary School.

Students decorated the poles as part of an effort around the globe to raise awareness for the need for peaceful cooperation in the world. The poles include the words, “May Peace Prevail on Earth,” in six languages.

LJHS Angel Williams said Bursh adds a creative touch to everything she's involved in at the school.

"She just goes out-of-the-box in everything that she does," she said.

Williams said arts programming suffers in schools and teachers like Bursh help to keep art alive.

"Whether it's music or literature or the paint brush with our students, we're not spending as much time and energy with those aspects. Mrs. Bursh compensates for that. She has developed an art club that pulls in any child wanting to learn more and expand their knowledge of the arts and she includes the community," Williams said.

Bursh is involved with a local group, "Art 4 the Park," which aims to keep arts visible in the community. The group helped with the placement of the "Peace Poles" project late last year.

Among other endeavors, Bursh is also part of a community of local artists who exhibit their work at Gallery One Ellleven, in downtown Leesville. 

"The objective is really to provide art for everyone to see," Bursh said, addressing the board on her efforts. "Some of those kids, maybe that's all they'll see. For some kids, we know they are never going to enter Gallery One Ellleven downtown. They are not going to go to Alexandria and see an art museum. By putting art in the community, this is where they have a chance to see art, enjoy art, appreciate art and respect art."

Vernon Parish Superintendent James Williams praised Bursh.

"There are so many things that she does for our kids and not just at Leesville Junior High, but throughout the parish," he said.

"Ms. Williams was very accurate in saying that if we're not careful, we're going to let it (arts) die before our eyes," Williams continued. "We've got to encourage people, students and community people. We've got to encourage people in our school system. If we don't teach the kids the importance and the value of this, then who is?"

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