A pandemic, rising cost of materials, hurricanes--despite all the cards stacked against them Jeff Davis parish school officials are making a dream reality.
"The people of Jennings trusted us, believed in us that we agree with you and think the timing is right," Kirk Credeur, superintendent of Jeff Davis Parish schools, said. "The people of Jennings, they supported this project, and this is what we're presenting them with."
The project is a 135,800 square foot building that can house 1200 students in 76 classrooms.
Below you can see an animation of the playground.
Each Pre-K and Kindergarten classroom will have their own area to play.
The gem of the school is the Great Room when you walk into the building.
"If you look across the top, we have a sky bridge that will have three large display panels," David Harper, current principal of Jennings Elementary, said. "That way if a parent is sitting in the back, they can still see their kids getting an award. You can seat 1600 people in the great room. It transitions into our basketball court where we'll support our community with bitty basketball, after school activities, athletics, PE."
A place for kids to gather and a community to support their students.
"My favorite part of the whole school, believe it or not, doesn't have to do with any brick, mortar, or stud," Harper started. "It's all of the people who have come together and sacrificed and the relationships that have been built so our kid's kids and kids kids kids can have a hope and future. It's been awesome."
It is a place, Harper said, students, parents, and the town can be proud of calling their own. He says this will give students a sense a pride, and studies show that that will help boost morale and test scores.
"When things are dilapidated, broke down, and beat up you're going to find lower scores in places like that," Harper said. "If we can provide something that instills pride in our community, attention to detail, a value in things we are showing our community and students that we value education and that this process matters and will give you a foundation for success."
The school is set to be complete in August just in time to usher in the new school year.
The new Jennings Elementary will be the first new school in 20 years.
The last time a school was bit in Jennings was the high school in the early 2000's. Residents approved a tax increase to build a high school and in 2005 Jennings High School came to fruition.
Toward the end of the payment plan, school officials proposed something else to the people of Jennings, keep taxes the same but extend it for another 20 years. That would give them they money the needed to build a new elementary school.
Resident voted "yes", and the process began.