PLAQUEMINE — The Iberville Parish School System on Friday marked a major expansion of its Math, Science and Arts Academy-West campus with opening ceremonies for its $2.4 million Science, Technology, Engineering and Math learning center.
The new 11,000-square-foot center took a little more than a year to construct and adds five additional classrooms to the academy, one of them a fully equipped chemistry laboratory, project manager Patrick Norris said.
“It’s designed to be energy efficient,” Norris said.
Officials said the kindergarten through 12th-grade college preparatory academy has “blossomed” since it was established in 2008 on land the Gay family donated to the school system.
The Rev. Karen Gay, who blessed the new STEM Center during the ceremony, said she never thought there would be a day when she’d get lost roaming around the school.
The STEM Center is the fourth phase of the academy’s ongoing construction, said Ed Cancienne, superintendent of Iberville Parish public schools.
Cancienne said further phases call for renovating the academy’s front entrance and construction of a performance arts center.
Elvis Cavalier, chief academic officer for the school system, said some 1,370 students are enrolled at MSA-West Academy, including many who also attend classes at Louisiana State University.
LSU Chancellor Michael Martin, who was among several officials and faculty members from the university attending the event, offered encouragement to the students and took a tour of the new STEM building.
Laura Lindsay, dean of LSU’s College of Education, told the audience that LSU College of Education majors would assist Iberville’s college preparatory academies by providing “innovative” teaching experiences through field training programs such as internships, tutoring and student teaching.
Martin said the academy is a great example of the kind of partnership the state’s flagship university should have with a local school district.
“Others ought to come and see what’s been done here,” Martin said. “Whether it’s LSU or other universities in the state, these kinds of linkages serve the students well. The kids will succeed and they’ll succeed because they have a wonderful, powerful start here.”