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Real estate, travel in Bacas’ future as school closes

L’Observateur / June 1, 1998

During his 33 years in the St. John the Baptist Parish School System,Lowell Bacas has coached basketball, taught history, principled young children, fixed copiers and loaded laminating machines.

“Someone’s learning how to fix the copier, but I better show somebody how to load the laminating machine,” he said.

Bacas, 54, has been the principal of LaPlace Elementary for 19 years. He’s retiring in June.

He graduated from Nicholls State University when he was 21 and immediately began coaching basketball at Leon Godchaux High School.

After eight years of coaching, he remained on board for another five years and taught American history, civics and world geography to juniors and seniors.

During his time of teaching and coaching, Bacas went back to college and earned his master’s degree from Nicholls and his plus 30, mostly from Southeastern Louisiana University.

When he was about 30 he became principal of LaPlace Elementary.

“What a change that was,” he exclaimed, “teaching high school for 12 years and coming to an elementary school that had kindergarten, first, second and third grades at the time.”But Bacas said he didn’t have a hard time adjusting.

“I never even remembered second guessing my decision,” he said. “I toldthe teachers at the first faculty meeting that I wasn’t knowledgeable of elementary curriculum, but I was there to learn.”Bacas remembers the first time he walked out onto the playground during a kindergarten recess the first year he was principal at LaPlace Elementary.

“They were all over the place like little bees swarming,” he said, laughing. “I don’t remember what teacher I told that was on duty, but Isaid, ‘My gosh! They are going to kill themselves.’ “I told that teacher that I had to go inside because they were making me nervous,” Bacas added. “They are so active!”Right in the middle of his 19 years at LaPlace Elementary Bacas was transferred to Woodland Elementary for two years, but he was able to move back to LaPlace Elementary, which made him happy.

“The school is a part of me now,” Bacas said. “I don’t think mostprincipals remain that long at a certain school.”Bacas is pleased with his career and said he’s loved every minute of it.

“I must have enjoyed myself because it went so fast,” he said.

Bacas said he and his assistant principal for over 10 years, Felton Collins, were recently reminiscing.

“We can’t get over how fast it went by,” Bacas said.

Bacas said he’s enjoyed working with Collins.

“In all the years we’ve been together we never argued, never had a cross word and always discussed what was best for the students,” Bacas said.

And with parents begging for an opening to send their children to LaPlace Elementary and test scores being high, the little elementary school on Greenwood Drive is one of the best in the parish. But Bacas refuses to takethe credit for that.

“The school was good when I came here in the beginning,” he said. “I’vejust helped to maintain it. The school is successful because of the staffhere. The teachers teach and work hard at it.”Educating runs in the Bacas family. Bacas’ wife, Sandra, is a retiredteacher at St. Joan of Arc, and Bacas’ father was in the St. John SchoolSystem for 48 years.

Bacas said his father started out at a two-room school in Lucy. “He ranthat school,” Bacas said proudly.

Bacas’ father was also principal at Edgard High School for about 10 years.

That’s where he was working when he retired.

Now, with his three children in college, Bacas said both of his twin daughters are thinking of becoming educators themselves. “I think both ofthem want to coach,” he said.

His oldest son is majoring in music at Nicholls.

Bacas said he will continue to encourage his daughters to enter the coaching profession.

“That’s why I went to school,” Bacas said. “I wanted to be like my coach.Besides, education has been good to me and my wife.”Now with his last day of school come and gone, Bacas said his wife is excited and they are both ready to delve into real estate endeavors and travel.

“But it’s going to be different,” he said. “After 33 years – well more thanthat because I was in college for four years and school before that – I’ve been waking up and going to school. Now I won’t have to do that.”

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