A $9 million expansion of David Thibodaux STEM Magnet Academy is expected to be complete this spring.
Construction in separate areas of the campus will add an engineering lab to one section of the school and a wing of science classrooms and labs to the opposite side of the campus.
The engineering lab is expected to be finished by mid-March and work on the science wing with six science classrooms and six labs should wrap up by mid-April, said Kyle Bordelon, the school system’s facilities director and acting chief operations officer.
The additional space is designed to enhance students’ studies in the STEM — science, technology, engineering and math —disciplines, said Jeff Debetaz, the school’s principal.
The academy is located in the former N.P. Moss Middle School, so lab space is smaller than required for a high school program and it lacks the necessary equipment for chemistry classes taught at that level, Debetaz said.
He said the move into new portions of the building will happen over the summer so instruction isn’t interrupted by the transition.
The STEM Magnet Academy is one of the school system’s newest schools. It opened initially in the 2010-11 school year as the David Thibodaux Career and Technical High School at a temporary location.
The temporary location was at the former Acadiana Technical College, which is now part of South Louisiana Community College campus. It moved to the former N.P. Moss Middle School on Teurlings Drive a year later.
The school’s name also changed to the reflect its focus on the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. The school also enrolls students in grades six through eight in a designated middle school area of the campus.
The academy celebrated its first graduating class of 63 students in May.
The school’s enrollment has grown from 50 students in its initial year to more than 750 in grades six through 12 and has a waiting list of students interested in studying at the campus.
Debetaz said enrollment in each grade had been capped at 100 students. He said the cap was increased to 150 students this year and he still had waiting lists for middle school and ninth grades.
The construction project also involves expanding the parking lot of the campus.
The school also received a grant to create a wetlands area. Bordelon said the school system is working with one of the school system’s construction subcontractors to draft a proposal to dig out an area adjacent to the science classroom wing for the wetlands project.
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