Hurricane Laura blew through Southwest Louisiana on August 27, 2020, causing widespread destruction throughout the community. St. Louis Catholic School received heavy damage to nearly every structure on campus. Just as a new school year was about to begin, the campus was devastated and the school community was scattered. The school worked rapidly to complete a temporary facility using modular buildings, and students were able to return to in-person learning on campus.
The extent of damage called for rebuilding, and the decision was made to rebuild St. Louis Catholic High School on a 37-acre site on Corbina Road in east Lake Charles.
Following are updates on the rebuilding process:
The $10 million bond issue has progressed through the regulatory approval process. Formal
resolution and approval of the bond by the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors
of the Louisiana Local Government Environmental Facilities and Community Development
Authority took place on September 9, 2021. Timing surrounding the placement of the bonds
and the use of proceeds will be discussed in more detail at the next meeting of the Future
- Site preparation has begun for a pavilion to be erected as part of the temporary campus.The pavilion will serve as a cafeteria and a gathering place for the students, essentiallytaking the place of the old Commons. The pavilion is an enclosed “tension fabric structure,”and once the new campus is complete, it can be moved or, if warranted, can remain a partof the Bank Street property. The total cost of the facility is approximately $2.35 million, andthe purchase has been approved by the school’s finance council. Included in this update aretwo drawings showing the structure and its location on the campus.
- Discussions with FEMA continue on a regular basis, but there are still no firm expectationsof timing or amount.
- A group formed to preserve the history and record of philanthropy at the school has been collecting information and artifacts in an effort to make sure all benefactors recognize and contributions are transferred to the new campus.
Report from the Future Campus Committee
July 27, 2021
The mission of the committee is to direct the establishment of a new campus for St. Louis Catholic High School—a campus using traditional southern Louisiana architecture, reflecting the school’s Catholic identity, and providing first-class facilities to support excellence in all facets of the St. Louis Catholic education.
Members of the Future Campus Committee are:
Chairman: Robert Piper, executive administrator of Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish; has been involved with many rebuilding projects in the Diocese; four children graduated from SLCHS
Dr. Michael Buckles, Dean of Liberal Arts at McNeese State University; parent of new SLCHS freshman
Fr. Andrew Derouen, parochial vicar of St. Theodore Catholic Church and St. Pius X Catholic Church; 2011 SLCHS graduate and member of the school’s Advisory Board
Matt Fontenot, Director of Advancement and baseball coach at St. Louis Catholic High School; 2005 SLCHS graduate
Nick Langley, CPA; 2000 SLCHS graduate, current parent and member of school’s Finance Council
Melanie LeJeune, SLCHS librarian; parent of 2019 SLCHS graduate and current student
Jack Robichaux, attorney; three children graduated from SLCHS
Marshall Simien, attorney; served on city council, police jury, and port board; two children graduated from SLCHS; parent of current student
Mia Touchet, principal of St. Louis Catholic High School; parent of 2020 graduate
Marsha Williams, senior vice president and chief credit officer at JD Bank; 1987 SLCHS graduate, parent of current student
Gayle Zembower, retired architect; member of the diocesan construction oversight committee; has been involved with many construction projects in the Diocese.
Since early April the committee has met five times. The committee is positioning the school construction to hit the ground running as soon as funding is available so our students will be back on a permanent campus as soon as possible. Here are some developments to date:
There is a right-to-purchase agreement in place for 40+ acres on Corbina Road in east Lake Charles.
Champeaux Evans Hotard, local architects, have been selected and have partnered with RHH Architects of Baton Rouge to design the new school. RHH has extensive experience with educational facilities. The architects have sought the input of teachers and administration, and expect to provide preliminary drawings shortly.
A state bond application has been filed and approved with the Louisiana Local Government Authority. With that approval we were able to submit the bond application to the State Bond Commission last week. Once it is approved there, we will begin placement of the offering. The principal amount of the bonds is not to exceed $10 million. The proceeds will help bridge the time gap between project costs incurred and FEMA reimbursement.
St. Louis Catholic has had many benefactors over the years who have given generously to the school. It is important that those many past benefactors—“Opening Windows” donors, senior class gifts, Hall of Fame honorees, etc.—will receive recognition on the new campus.
The diocese has weekly conversations with FEMA and remains confident that FEMA will help with the funding needed to rebuild the school.
Please continue to pray for our school, our diocese and our community.
St. Louis, pray for us.
Architects chosen for rebuilding of St. Louis Catholic High School
April 28, 2021
The Diocese of Lake Charles announced that the architectural firm selected for rebuilding St. Louis Catholic High School is Champeaux Evans Hotard + RHH Architects, APAC, A Joint Venture.
The joint venture firm has extensive design experience in both education space and worship space. Additionally, Champeaux Evans Hotard has a long history of working with the Diocese of Lake Charles and most recently worked with St. Louis Catholic High School on the temporary campus after Hurricane Laura.
“Our team is excited to be a part of the rebuilding effort for a new campus for St. Louis, as they also are parents to current and incoming students at SLC,” said Bridget Evans of Champeaux Edwards Hotard.
The architects will work with the St. Louis Catholic High School Future Campus Committee appointed by the Board of Pastors, and will begin the design process immediately.
Committee formed to build new St. Louis campus
The Board of Pastors of the Diocese of Lake Charles announced the formation of a committee to oversee the establishment of a new campus for St. Louis Catholic High School.
Robert Piper was named chair of the Future Campus Committee, which will direct the planning and construction of the new St. Louis campus on a 37-acre site on Corbina Road in east Lake Charles. “This committee has a clear mission,” Piper said, “to build the very best Catholic school possible, as quickly as possible, for the St. Louis community.”
Piper is executive administrator of Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Church, overseeing church operations, Villa Maria Retirement Center, Consolata Cemetery, Crossroads Bookstore and the Family Life Community Center. Prior to that, he was president and CEO of US Unwired, a publicly traded wireless communications company. He has chaired building committees for Abraham’s Tent, New Life Counseling, Our Lady Queen of Heaven’s Middle School, and the Lake Charles Racquet Club. For the last 12 years, he has served as the tennis coach for St. Louis Catholic High School. He has been married to Dr. Eileen Piper for 37 years. They have four children, all graduates of St. Louis.
St. Louis Catholic High School sustained severe hurricane damage in 2020, and the school is now operating in temporary modular buildings. After considering various options, the school’s Board of Pastors decided to rebuild the school on the Corbina Road site and repurpose the Bank Street property.