POSTED: Thursday, December 13, 2012 - 2:00pm
UPDATED: Thursday, December 13, 2012 - 2:04pm
LIVINGSTON, LA — The new Live Oak High School will open Dec. 17, allowing students, faculty and staff the opportunity to get their Christmas wish.
“Everyone is so excited about moving to the new school. It’s definitely been on everyone’s Christmas wish list to get in before the holidays, and I’m so pleased that we can make that happen,” said School Board Member Kellee Hennessy.
Live Oak High School Principal Tracy McRae said that while the Dec. 17 move is “an early Christmas gift” for everyone at the school, her decision to move on that date was for more practical reasons. Moving into school one week before the holiday break will give school administrators time to “work out the kinks” and make any necessary adjustments over the two-week holiday break so the new campus can be fully up to speed for the Jan. 7 return of the students.
She also said the school’s 1,185 students would have a “more relaxed atmosphere” to get acquainted with the campus that week. Even though students will take tests on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings from 7:30 a.m. to approximately 10:45 a.m., they will be given time after exams to tour the school, find their various classes and choose lockers. She also said students will be given up to 10 minutes between testing periods and class times during the first week to allow ample time to find their way.
“All our students have already met with their advisors to review the new campus map, ask questions about how it is arranged and go over their individual schedules,” McRae said. “Students have received maps of the campus, along with copies of their class schedules with the corresponding room numbers marked for them.” She also noted that a map of the new campus is in the school handbook that was given out at the beginning of the year.
McRae said students and parents will also be allowed to take an informal walk-through of the campus, located at 36079 Highway 16 in Watson, on Sunday, Dec. 16, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. School administrators and student council members will be at the school that day to help with directions.
Hennessy said the opening of the school was delayed somewhat because of problems caused by copper theft back in February and then rainy weather due to Hurricane Isaac in September. However, the project has been completed under the projected $30 million budget and includes more amenities than originally planned.
“Our project managers have done a great job of watching every penny to get the most for our money,” she said. She also noted that the State Legislature approved funding for the $620,000 turn lane that will be added in front of the school on Highway 16 by February 2013.
“By gaining this funding from the state, we were able take the local money budgeted for that expense and make nice upgrades to the campus,” Hennessy said. “We were able put air conditioning in the main gym, lay concrete floors throughout, add a culinary kitchen for our ProStart program, and upgrade our athletic facilities, including adding a field house, putting artificial turf on the football field, adding a running track, and building a nice concession stand.”
“We have put so much into this beautiful campus. I believe the community is going to be delightfully surprised. It far exceeds expectations,” she said.
School Superintendent John Watson praised members of the Live Oak High School community for patiently working with contractors and facility managers to make the transition to the new campus.
“The plan that Principal McRae and administrators have put into place has been well thought out. Every detail has been discussed,” Watson said. “I know everyone is excited about finally making the move.”
McRae said the 200,000-square-foot complex contains 75 classrooms, including several science, technology and business laboratories, along with a cafeteria, library and culinary kitchen. Most of the classes will be held in the school’s main two-story classroom building, which is organized by subject – math, science and art classes and labs are on the first floor, and English, social studies, and foreign language classes are on the second floor. Students will only leave the main building to access the school cafeteria, band room, auxiliary gym, and career and technical education building.
“The new school comes fully furnished with new desks, computers and classroom equipment, which eliminated the need to transfer such items from the current campus, lessening the complexity and amount of time needed to complete the move,” McRae said, adding that most of the items to be moved from the current campus include the teachers’ personal items and project materials.
McRae said school officials and sheriff’s office deputies will help direct traffic during the first week of transition and until the turn lane can be installed. All carpool and on-campus parking traffic will be directed to enter the campus via the south entrance, on the side next to the school gymnasium, which will lead to the student parking lot and carpool drop off area. Bus traffic will enter the campus via the north entrance for morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up routes.