Five and a half years after their old building was destroyed in the 2016 floods, Central Private School celebrated the opening of its brand new Gurney Road campus on Saturday with a moving dedication ceremony.
Hundreds of students, families, teachers and administrators gathered in the inner circle of the new building.
“Today we are on the other side of the water,” said Robert Martin, principal of the school. “We are strong, we are resilient, and we are immensely blessed. “
In 2016, flooding destroyed the school’s middle-high school building, administrative offices, cafeteria and lower elementary buildings and also damaged all remaining buildings on campus, displacing hundreds of students, teachers and administrators.
Classes were temporarily transferred to Zoar Baptist Church and First Baptist Church until FEMA granted the campus enough money to purchase six temporary buildings, where the student body remained for several years.
Construction on the new school finally began in May 2020 on land at the corner of Gurney and Joor roads which was purchased with a loan taken out on behalf of seven boards of directors.
Located near the city center, the new campus was intentionally built on higher ground and less prone to flooding.
“We moved because we were in a flood plain and so every time it rained the road was flooded and they had to cancel school,” said Katie Laurent, director of school advancement. “Then the 2016 flood virtually demolished all of our buildings. The rebuilding has been a long process, but we’re really excited about it. “
The reopening was particularly meaningful for Cathe Hunt, whose four children and three grandchildren all attended Central Private.
“We are so excited about the new complex,” she said as she walked inside the building for a tour.
The current phase of the new campus project includes the high school wing, which will also temporarily house the college, and a new gymnasium. Students in grades six to twelve begin classes at the new facilities on Monday.
Central Private is not the only school destroyed in the 2016 floods which are expected to reopen on Monday.
In December, Denham Springs Elementary gave fourth graders a preview of their new facility, which began construction in October 2019.
One of three parish schools in Livingston to be declared “substantially damaged” by FEMA in the wake of the flooding, the school’s new 80,000-square-foot campus is the parish’s first two-story elementary building and benefits several upgrades including dry erase classrooms. walls and a dedicated STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) laboratory.
“It’s just amazing,” Principal Gail DeLee told The Advocate last month. “The process has been a long one. The students must have done without a lot.