H.L. Bourgeois freshman center set for June opening

Everyone looks forward to the full-fledged high school experience.

Seniors getting ready to move on to college or jobs, juniors chomping at the bit to be at the top of the totem pole, sophomores lining up their schedules to get in all the right courses to graduate, thankful to no longer be the newbies on campus, and freshman, a brand new batch of fresh faces all wondering where to start as they learn their locker combinations.

For the past 30 years, the majority of freshman at H.L. Bourgeois High School have not been able to take part in this high-school hierarchy, but come this fall, all of the school’s student body will finally be on one campus.

“We can’t wait ‘til all the students are in one place,” said H.L. Bourgeois principal Matthew Hodson. “Our students will finally get to take part in the whole high-school experience.”

At the Terrebonne Parish School District’s latest school board meeting, the board approved the substantial completion of the school’s new Freshman Center Project, based on a recent inspection. The building’s contractor now has 31 days to complete the remaining punch list of substantial completion items, and, once the work has been completed, the parish will receive the lien-free certificate and authorize the release of retainage.

“We have about 1,500 students in the (current) building right now,” Hodson said. “Half of next year’s student population this fall will be new to the (whole) building, and we will also be hiring additional teachers.”

“This building is going to be state of the art,” he continued. “It’s going to be a showplace.”

“We had been planning this addition for quite some time because there was not enough space to house the freshman population at the school,” said school board superintendent Philip Martin. “H.L. Bourgeois High School is a big school, and there is an average of 450 students in each freshman class.”

Even when the school opened in November of 1973, there was not enough room for the school’s freshmen students, and in the last three decades, the class has been divided between Evergreen Junior High School and Terrebonne Junior High School.

“We allowed freshman students involved with extracurricular activities like band and sports to stay at the other schools,” said school board member L.P. Bordelon. “There were always about 100 students who were not involved in extracurricular activities, and those students attended H.L. Bourgeois. We have never had the full complement of students at the school.”

Construction on the addition, which will feature 18 classrooms, two science labs and two computer labs, began in November of 2011, and the building was funded by a $10 million interest-free loan. The 47,000-square-foot addition is located on the right side of the current building, and it also has several faculty offices and workrooms as well as a commons area and pavilion for students.

“The contractor still has work to do on the floor, electric and plumbing, and there are some repairs that need to be made to the parking lot,” said Donald Chamberlin, TPSB Plant operation manager, who oversees the parish’s school buildings. “The building will be ready for a grand opening in June, and it will be a great benefit to the school to have all the kid in one place.”

The building will feature energy efficient insulation and lights and low-maintenance polished concrete floor, and all of the classrooms have been wired for the Promethean and Smart boards.

“The building is strong and well built,” Chamberlin added.

The new Freshman Center at H.L. Bourgeois High School will feature 22 new classrooms as well as a commons area and pavilion for students. The building was funded by a $10 million interest-free loan.