Head Start building opens with time capsule reveal

Greg Fischer Editor-in-chief
Superintendent David Alexander addresses the crowd.

Ascension Public Schools held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the opening of the Head Start expansion project that included a 1938 time capsule reveal.

The time capsule, a copper box no bigger than an average shoebox, was found by the construction crew in the wall behind the 1938 building plaque.

The event occurred on Tuesday, January 15 in the B.C. Alwes Auditorium, located at 501 Lee Avenue in Donaldsonville, Louisiana. Next door to B.C. Alwes is the auditorium left from the former location of Donaldsonville High School, which was recently renovated and reopened for Head Start students. Head Start is the pre-k program in Donaldsonville.

"We're really here for two reasons," Superintendent David Alexander said. "We're here to cut the ribbon on phase two of this state-of-the-art Head Start facility that we have here. But we're also here for a second unusual and unexpected treat."

Alexander explained that in 2016, the people of Ascension Parish voted to approve funding for the district-wide construction project that would benefit the Head Start program. The old DHS auditorium was converted into administrative offices and Head Start classrooms.

"It's a $3.2 million dollar project," Alexander said. "We converted 9600 square feet into seven classrooms while maintaining the historic building's aesthetics."

Phase three has already begun with former classroom demolition followed by new construction that will include a full-serving kitchen, a dining hall, a covered play pavilion, and three additional classrooms.

"This expansion will enhance our ability to meet universal pre-k needs in Donaldsonville, and we know the most important thing we can do is make sure students come to school at four and five, that when they hit first grade that they're all on the same playing field and ready to go."

Chenevert Architects and Mougeot Architecture firms, both out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana were identified in the audience. J. Reed Constructors, the contractor for the project was also identified among a long list of contributors.

Local leaders including State Senator Ed Price, State Representative Ken Brass, Parish President Kenny Matassa, Donaldsonville Mayor Leroy Sullivan, Sheriff Bobby Webre, and City and Parish Council members were in attendance.

Moreover, the Ascension Parish School Board sat on stage during the time capsule presentation. But before the 1938 time capsule was carefully cut open, a new time capsule was filled. It was set to be opened in 100 years.

The 1938 time capsule contained a 1938 proclamation from the school board, a copy of the bookThe flight of a century in Ascension Parish, Louisiana by Sidney Albert Marchand, a letter about the copper capsule, signed by the makers, a document about the history of Donaldsonville High School, a copy of The Donaldsonville Chief, a business card, a copy of the Tiger Times, vol. 1 (the DHS newspaper of the day), and other items that will be on display at the Head Start facility in due time.

"I think it's so fitting that we have a time capsule on the same day as a ribbon cutting because a time capsule is really a message to the future," Director of Primary Schools Elizabeth Stafford said. "And when I think about the three-year-olds that occupy the building next door, they are the future."

Visit the photo gallery from the opening of the historical time capsule.