Children rise to the level of expectations," principal Dana Schmershal said.
It is the parish's only school to receive a high-performing, high-poverty school distinction from the Louisiana Department of Education
At the beginning of this school year, 49.3 percent of James' students were white, 45.9 were black and the rest were other minorities.
About 64.7 percent qualified for free or reduced lunch.
Schmershal left her principal position at Prairie Elementary School to open James in 2002.
hand-picked 75 percent of the staff.
The other 25 percent came from teachers displaced from St. Antoine and the old James.
"I love change and I thought it would be exciting to be at the first School of Choice school," Schmershal
Along with learning about arts in core classes, students choose a "major" such as dance, visual arts, piano, strings, band, drama or vocal music.
"We had teachers coming into a whole new situation and they were really pioneers," Schmershal