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Spirit of Acadiana: 200 years in Grand Coteau

Bicentennial at Academy of the Sacred Heart Next Week
Posted at 9:33 PM, Sep 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-28 22:42:15-04

GRAND COTEAU, La. — October 5th, 1821, was when the Academy of the Sacred Heart came to be. 200 years later, the school is still here and it has meant so much to women throughout the area.

"Two religious that came, had never been to Louisiana before, one of them didn't speak English and founded the school here," says Sacred Heart's Aimee Cotter. "Over the course of the next few years, they went through several growing pains. And then the Civil War hit."

And as we continue with our venture into the history of the Academy of the Sacred Heart, know this: An encampment of Union soldiers during the Civil War was right across the street from the Grand Coteau campus.

"At that time, the Union troops were posted right across the street," explains Cotter, herself an Academy graduate. "And General Nathaniel Banks' daughter was a student at Sacred Heart School in New York, and so his wife and the mother superior wrote to him asking him to please spare the school, and that is why the school is still standing today, because of General Nathaniel Banks."

The Academy has carried on, from five students in 1821 to 222 in 2021. But regardless of your year of graduation, the lessons and the tradition live on for its alumni.

"It means everything to me," says 1979 graduate Nicole Bouligny Brown. "Just some of my best memories were made here and probably a lot of growth happened here, and the friends that i made are just irreplaceable."

But the message rings true even for today's Sacred Heart students. Junior Lelia Venable has been at the Academy since her freshman year; she enjoys the 'empowering' atmosphere of an all-girls school.

"I thought that was really important because a lot of times in the world girls are kind of overlooked, women are overlooked, but here, it's great because you're given the opportunity to be encouraged to be educated and state your opinions and be celebrated and it's great to be in a place that encourages growth."

Of course in October, there are a number of anniversary events; then in December there's Christmas at Coteau. Coming up, there will be renovations and revitalization of the chapel.

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