A project to create a new, permanent home for Berchmans Academy of the Sacred Heart is about to get underway on the campus of the Schools of the Sacred Heart in Grand Coteau.

Infrastructure needed to start construction for the all-boy school will be put in place soon, said Sister Lynne Lieux, headmistress of Berchmans and the historic, all-girl school, the Academy of the Sacred Heart.

“We have to run water, sewer, electricity, fiber, gas into the campus,” Lieux said. “The pipes are here. We are going to begin that part of the project and continue our fundraising, hoping that we’ll have the monies we need when we finish the infrastructure so we can begin the first building.”

Berchmans opened in 2006 as an expansion of the single-gender education that had been offered at the all-girl Academy of the Sacred Heart since 1821. The all-boy school started with 27 students in grades preschool through second and has grown to an enrollment of 160 students in grades preschool through 12. The boys school will graduate its first senior class of 14 at the end of May.

Meanwhile, fundraising for the $14 million project will continue, said Lieux, a member of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of the Society of the Sacred Heart.

“We felt that we had to start with something, and we have the funding to do this piece of it,” she said of the infrastructure work. “We are actively working on funding to get past the infrastructure.”

The $14 million estimated cost of the project includes construction of the boys school — a building with classrooms, a gathering space and an athletic area — as well as renovations for the girls school.

Berchmans students are now housed in portable buildings behind the Academy of the Sacred Heart’s gym. The permanent boys’ campus will be situated south of the girls’ campus and south of the property’s picturesque row of majestic oak trees, Oak Alley.

“The two schools will eventually look at each other through Oak Alley,” Lieux said. “It’s a fairly good distance. There’s 32 or 34 acres that we have cleared to the south that’s between where the present campus is and near the Jesuit property, but we’re still a pretty good distance from there, too.”

As the infrastructure for the boys school begins, work on the construction of a covered competition arena for the equestrian program also will begin.

The new arena will enable the school to board additional horses and host more competitions, Lieux said.

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