HLB freshman academy ready for Class of 2018

Every student, every day: TPSB grad rates, test scores rise amidst budget woes
August 6, 2013
Keeping pace with growth: St. Mary emphasizing classroom results
August 6, 2013
Every student, every day: TPSB grad rates, test scores rise amidst budget woes
August 6, 2013
Keeping pace with growth: St. Mary emphasizing classroom results
August 6, 2013

History repeated itself, sort of, for the ribbon cutting of the new freshman academy building at H.L. Bourgeois High School.

“I was a teacher here when they had the ribbon cutting in 1973,” said Terrebonne Parish School Board member Richard “Dicky” Jackson. “It rained that night, and on the way here, I wondered if history would repeat itself tonight. We were sitting on the stage that night, and the roof leaked. We had a few holes we had to fill in that building, but I am excited to be here tonight.

“I look forward to what the facility will offer students in the fall. The class of 2018 will be the first graduates of the class of the new H.L. Bourgeois freshman academy.”

Jackson was one of several school board members as well as other local officials, including parish President Michel Claudet, Sheriff Jerry Larpenter, District Attorney Joe Waitz, and state representatives Joe Harrison and Lenar Whitney, on hand for the leak-free ribbon cutting ceremony at the new building. Construction on the addition, which has 18 classrooms, two science labs and two computer labs, began in November 2011. The building was funded by a $10 million interest-free loan. This will be the first time in the school’s 40-year history that all the high school grade levels are on one campus.

A few other members of the school board also shared their history with the facility.

“H.L. Bourgeois is now a comprehensive high school,” said L.P. Bordelon, who served as principal at the high school from 1973-1980. “The school board promised something to the people of this parish, and here it is.”

“I student-taught here in 1982, and I am very honored and excited to be here tonight” said school board Brenda Leroux Babin. “This is a great legacy to give back to the community. The ninth graders are now at the high school where they belong.”

While board members Hayes Badeaux, Roosevelt Thomas and Debi Benoit do not have such memories at the high school, all three were pleased with the opening of the new building.

“I have been with the school board many years and this is the first ribbon cutting I have been to,” Badeaux said. “What a legacy for this school board to leave behind. These students will become productive members of society. How can you not want to learn in a facility like this?”

“I was the tall person when I was a student at Terrebonne High School,” Thomas said. “My knees were up against the back of the desk of the person in front of me. Students will have plenty of space here in the new freshman center.”

“A recent Carnegie study shows that new buildings improve student test scores anywhere from 5-17 percentile points,” Benoit said. “New buildings can also foster a strong sense of belonging. The new H.L. Bourgeois building will prove these studies are true here in Terrebonne Parish.”

The shiny new addition to the 40-year-old original campus is a beacon of hope to school board president Roger “Dale” Dehart and school district superintendent Philip Martin as the district faces another year of budget woes.

“We saved the tax payers at least $10 million by securing an interest free loan,” Martin said. “We all know the financial problems in the district, and to secure a no interest loan is an amazing accomplishment.

“This is not so much a ribbon cutting ceremony as it is a ribbon cutting celebration. The building is very well built. As great as all the individuals are – principals, board members and staff – they will come and go, but the building will not. It will serve generations of students.”

Martin was most impressed with the energy efficiency of the building and the addition of an outdoor pavilion for students.

“If not for the taxpayers, the school board and staff, this would not be possible,” Dehart said.

“The board has never lost vision of having ninth through 12th grade high schools parish-wide.”

Both Martin and Dehart took time to recognize architect Merlin Lirette and the contractor Troy Thompson, who lead the design and construction of the new building.

“I think Mr. Bourgeois would be proud to see the new facility and the traditions we have for others to follow,” said current principal Matthew Hodson. “This facility is second to none. Like our school motto, we stand hand in hand as we look toward the future.”