DENHAM SPRINGS, La. – Following the epic flood in August 2016, the Southside Junior High and Southside Elementary campuses in the Denham Springs School District lay in water and mud-soaked ruin.

Nearly every floor, wall, door, and window, as well as the contents of the two schools, were damaged beyond repair by waters that reached as high as six feet above ground level in some areas. The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s declaration that the campuses were substantially damaged meant the campuses could not be restored as many others were across the parish. They had to be razed and rebuilt to the newer, more restrictive standards.

That effort would require lots of time, millions of dollars and much patience and persistence on the part of school officials, teachers, students, and parents, to continue their day-to-day efforts in a displaced and temporary setting.

But come this August 9 – nearly six years after the flood – that journey of recovery will come to a successful end.

“Construction of our new Southside Campus has managed to stay on schedule, and it will open to staff and students for the start of the 2022-2023 school year. “This is the culmination of the combined efforts of so many,” Superintendent Joe Murphy said.

The new campus, which is located at the site of the former Southside Junior High, incorporates Southside Elementary (K-5) and Southside Junior High (6-8). The elementary campus will accommodate 800 students and will occupy the right-facing side of the complex. The junior high will accommodate 1,000 students and occupy the left-facing side of the complex.

The rear section will include a band room, gymnasium, multi-purpose room and cafeteria that can be sectioned off for the different grade levels or opened to accommodate large gatherings. A two-story, glass-walled library will occupy the center of the main building, near the administrative offices, overlooking a large outdoor courtyard.

The school buildings have been built at an elevation of 9 ½ feet higher than the previous school complex.

“This facility truly is a showcase structure,” Murphy said. “The design and layout are the result of much research and collaborative input to ensure that every aspect of the campus enhances learning.”

Murphy also said the new campus is equipped with the latest classroom technology, including Newline Panels for interactive discussions, lap-top and desk computers, LED lighting and ample natural light throughout the buildings. A turn lane has been added to Highway 16 to ease congestion for carpool and bus traffic.

He said the design of the new campus was provided by Alvin Fairburn & Associates of Denham Springs, while the construction was managed by Womack Construction.

Murphy noted that the temporary campuses off Juban Road that housed the Southside campuses from 2016 to earlier this year will be deconstructed, and the locations will be fully cleared to create greater green space at the Juban Parc Elementary and Juban Parc Junior High Schools.

Murphy said school officials plan to hold a community open house at the campus in the coming weeks, to allow parents, former Southside students and local community members to see the new facilities.

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