Picturing the past: 100 years at Maurepas High

MAUREPAS, LA (WAFB) - Before the seniors at Maurepas High turn their tassels, the class of 2012 wanted a special picture to celebrate more than just their graduation.

"It hasn't really hit me that I'm graduating," says Haly Guitreau as she puts the final touches on her hair. She and the rest of her class are holed up in a spare classroom primping for their traditional senior class picture.

Outside the school's main building, photographer Becky Blount is also getting ready. Setting props and positioning her ladder for the moment when the entire class emerges ready for it's close-up . . . all 14 of them.

It's not the largest graduating class in Maurepas history, but it's a special one.

The little schoolhouse set deep in Livingston Parish first opened its doors 100 years ago. "To know that some of these class rooms, my great-grandmother was in," says Guitreau, it's kind of neat knowing I'm in the same place they were."

Back in 1912, folks in Maurepas built themselves a four-room schoolhouse. It still stands as part of the school, today. Long-time teacher and pseudo historian Linda Hoover says the building hasn't changed much in one hundred years. Students still climb the same stairwells, and hang artwork on the same beadboard walls.

"I've found my dad's name in some of the library books I've checked out," says senior Julian Ellis. His dad was a student at Maurepas High almost 30 years ago.

The school was built on piers about six-feet tall. In 1912, the area under the school was wide open. While class was going on upstairs cows, pigs, and sheep would graze in the shade under the school. If kids weren't careful with where the stored their lunch, the animals would graze on that too. So kids began hiding their sandwiches between the floor joists.

The open-air first floor was slowly enclosed starting with the first big addition to the school in 1935. That's when the school got its first basketball court and auditorium. Hoover's classroom was the last part of the old building to be closed in. That was two years ago. Today, it serves as a combination classroom and book room.

"I feel like the students that I've taught are now, as adults, are my friends. They're not just kids that I've taught," says Hoover. She still sees her kids in town and attends their weddings. "I've taught children and grandchildren of some, and it just means a lot to everyone who is a part of this school."

The school has grown in 100 years. This year's enrollment reached 450. But this year's students were not on the Class of 2012's mind when they assembled for pictures in the front door of the original four-room schoolhouse this week. It was the graduates' idea to honor classes past by taking their senior pictures with some hallmarks of the school's history. Like the original school bell.

This Saturday, when Guitreau, Ellis, cross the stage, they will be part of the 99th graduating class. No one graduated from Maurepas School in 1912. Families are planning a big celebration for next year's graduating class as well, complete with pictures from the senior class that roamed the halls here 100 years after they were first opened.

"It's gonna be hard," says Guitreau. "I'm gonna cherish all these photos we've taken." And maybe one day, a daughter might find a mother's name in an old library book here.

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