ST. AMANT, LA (WAFB) - Upperclassmen at St. Amant High School returned to their old classrooms this week for the first time since the August 2016 flood. The building, which is part of the first phase of renovations planned for the school, opened this week.
Members of St. Amant High School Band have been working hard all year, but Assistant Band Director Andrew Graham said Tuesday's practice just felt a little different. "It's almost indescribable," Graham said.
It was first time the young musicians have been able to practice in the old band hall since the historic flood. They have marched on different campuses, played in temporary classrooms, and even under tents. A year and a half later, the Gators are finally home.
"They are really excited. The energy level is really high," Graham said.
The school building, which houses 23 math and science classrooms for 10th through 12th grade, now boasts a fresher look and new learning tools. Principal Beth Templet was there to welcome students. "It felt like home. It felt like our house," Templet said.
Especially, she said, for seniors who get to walk those halls one last time before they graduate. "To know they got to get back into their building and they get to finish up this school year, it was very important to them, and I think that's a great moment going into the end of the school year," Templet said.
It's a great feeling for school system leaders too. Director of Planning and Construction Chad Lynch said getting students and staff back into familiar territory as quickly as possible was more than just a matter of comfort or convenience. "We recognize that hard buildings are safer from storms and weather conditions and for the security aspect," Lynch said.
There's still a lot of work to do before the entire campus is back to what it once was, but Lynch said St. Amant and other schools in the Ascension Parish School System are right on track. "When we come back in August, we'll be like we were pre-flood," Lynch said.
The athletic facility, the Gold Dome, is next to be repaired. It's set to reopen in July. The final phase of repairs includes the school library and administrative offices. Those are scheduled to be complete by December.
Galvez Primary, Galvez Middle, and Lake Elementary are scheduled to be finished in time for the new school year. St. Amant Primary and St. Amant Middle reopened last year.