Lake, Galvez, and St. Amant schools get re-consolidated

Greg Fischer
Ms. Emily Marchand's second-grade class at St. Amant Primary.

Overcast skies and the smell of new was in the air for (at least some) return to normalcy at three Ascension Parish elementary schools that were damaged in the August flood.

Galvez Primary, Lake Elementary, and St Amant Primary schools have all faced challenges over the past seven months. Major repairs are still taking place on their campuses, due to water damages. But with Galvez having returned home March 2 and Lake on March 6, all three schools are again operating separately.

"It's been a challenging day," Steven Gray, assistant principal at Lake Elementary said on Monday. "We're putting out little fires, but for the most part it's been pleasantly, surprisingly smooth."

Gray did not mean literal fires. He meant challenges like where the bathrooms are now located in the new modular campus with relation to the cafeteria. Students at Lake will be learning in temporary modular buildings until repairs are completed on the old campus, including the gymnasium.

"We're expecting to be here at least a year," Gray said.

Lake students, K-8 walked in between the new buildings and seemed happy. A student passed and said, "Hey Mr. Gray, we missed you." Gray, originally from Baton Rouge, has been at Lake over 10 years. Much of the campus is clearly under construction and currently off-limits to students.

The old River Parishes Community College (RPCC) campus in Sorrento has been a hub for varying grades from all three schools since the beginning. Now that Lake and Galvez have returned home, St. Amant Primary is finally back together as a whole.

As one might guess, this has been difficult for educators and parents who have children that are suddenly spread out across the parish on different campuses everyday. But it was also tough on the administration, like Principal Paisley Morgan of St. Amant Primary, who like many suffered two feet of water in her home.

Morgan complimented her assistant principal, Marguerite Guillot, who recently gave birth to twins in February. The school hired former Principal David Richard to fill her shoes temporarily.

"Thankfully, our district is wonderful at making sure that we feel supported," Morgan said. "We have retired administrators that they will hire when someone goes out on medical or maternity leave. They hired Mr David Richard, a former principal at St. Amant High School to fill in for her. He and I were toggling back and forth, but we don't have to do that anymore."

"Our third, fourth and fifth-graders have been here the whole time," Morgan said. "Our pre-k, first, and second-graders have been at G.W. Carver. Yesterday was the first day we were all together here."

Morgan said that according to the Ascension Parish School Board, their school had the smallest level of repairs. They hope to return home at the start of the Fall semester, but that remains uncertain.

"That's the plan," Morgan said. "We're the first on slated to get completed because the scope of our damages were less than everyone else's."

One day after the return, St. Amant Primary was running well. Students were testing in one classroom and lively participating in another.

Galvez returned first, last week, and over 600 students are back together on their campus, although also in temporary buildings. St. Amant High School returned to its campus on Feb. 13, 2017.

One word for all this: progress.