ASCENSION PARISH, LA (WAFB) - The first of three freshman academies in Ascension Parish is about to open its doors to a whole new world of learning. It's a ray of hope for the St. Amant community, which was devastated by the August flood.
The brand new, 66,000 square foot St. Amant Freshman Academy is soon to be home to 520 9th graders. Those students and their teachers are about to enter the future of education.
Ascension Parish Director of Planning and Construction, Chad Lynch, said prepare to be amazed. You can see the difference just behind the main entrance. Lynch said security features will help keep unwanted visitors away, and the school is wired to help keep students and teachers connected anywhere on campus.
"There are places for students in the building, for students to sit and use their digital devices," Lynch said.
The 6,000 thousand square foot cafetorium, complete with a stage and high tech lighting, Lynch said, will enhance an already successful school theater program. It doubles as a lunch room designed to help make sure students leave the drama on the stage.
"We went from seating 500 students to seating 800, four serving lines to six, so that no one misses lunch," Lynch said.
The school has four bus lanes to help keep traffic moving on nearby roadways. The $13.9 million facility comes with all the bells and whistles. Ascension Parish Schools assistant superintendent A. Denise Graves said school leaders will be looking for big returns from students.
"We have always been overachievers and that's what we want our children to understand, that we have those expectations and those expectations are high," Graves said.
The Freshman Academy concept has been embedded in the school system for years. Now students have a brand new place to practice. The school opens on February 3, but the public can tour it at an Open House on Wednesday at 7 p.m. School leaders are asking those who do attend to bring an ornament to help decorate the school's Christmas tree.