New gym opens at Garyville school

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 3, 2004

By SUE ELLEN ROSS – Staff Reporter

GARYVILLE – It’s been a long time coming, but the new gymnasium in the Garyville/Mt. Airy Magnet School is officially open. Students began using the facilities this week, and a ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled for March 12.

Construction funds were obtained from a bond issue approved in 2002.

The $1.2 million gym will solve many problems the school has had to face in past years. Physical Education teachers now have an adequate area to teach class, and the basketball teams will have a place to host their games.

“We were holding classes outside,” said teacher Shawn Gerhart. “It wasn’t recess, it was physical education class – calisthenics, etc. But it was hard not to have a structure.”

When the school opened its doors in 1993, there was no gymnasium. Sports teams had to travel to neighboring communities to use their facilities for practice.

Not anymore.

The 12,700-sq. ft. structure houses a large concession area, restrooms, locker rooms for both boys and girls, offices for the physical education department, and storage areas. The seating area will accommodate 375 people.

“We are so excited that the parish has built such a wonderful facility for us to use,” said principal Pat Triche. “With such a focus on health, this is a big plus for our students.”

After the gym was completed, the St. John Parish School Board wanted to name the building after former school board member Felix LeBouef.

LeBouef was instrumental in the 1993 construction of the Garyville/Mt. Airy School, which is in the district he represented. The Garyville resident served on the board for almost 30 years, and also pushed for construction of the new gym.

In his honor, the school board submitted their request to the State Legislature for approval.

Everyone at the school is overjoyed with the new addition, especially Coach Gerhart. “We are very appreciative that the parish found a way for this to happen,” he said. “We have had a basketball team for five years, and now they have a place of their own.”