St. Louis’ future: Panel formed to repurpose current site; another to plan new school

Marlisa Harding

St. Louis Catholic High School is moving forward with its plans to relocate to South Lake Charles. The Board of Pastors recommended in March that the campus be rebuilt contingent on funding and now has appointed Robert Piper to chair the Future Campus Committee and Gus Schram II to chair the Landry-St. Louis Property Repurposing Committee.

“It’s important and time is of the essence so we can get the school rebuilt in a timely fashion,” Nathan Long, campus rector, said. “They (Piper and Schram) have a deep desire just to do what’s best for the future.”

The Future Campus Committee will direct the planning and construction of the new campus on a 37-acre site on Corbina Road. “The mission of the Future Campus Committee is to direct the establishment of a new campus for St. Louis Catholic High School — a campus using traditional southern Louisiana architecture, reflecting the school’s Catholic identity and providing first-class facilities to support excellence in all facets of the St. Louis Catholic education,” Piper said.

Piper is executive administrator of Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Church, has chaired numerous religious and civic building committees and has served as the St. Louis tennis coach for 12 years. Long described him as a “ very passionate and capable man who wants to make sure his gifts are used for the betterment of others.”

“He sees his role as an opportunity to do just that and to bring energy and connectiveness to this project,” Long added.

The Landry St. Louis Property Committee will study and recommend future development and use of the current Bank Street location. “Although the committee is now in its formative stages, its undertaking is to explore the alternatives for future uses of the historic Landry property, which has been the site of St. Louis Catholic High School for the last five decades,” Schram said.

“Our goal is to assist in the creation of a flexible, long-term conceptual plan for the property which serves the church and, through it, the neighborhood and the larger community.”

Schram is a retired, certified public accountant at Gus Schram & Company and is chairman of the Lake Charles Planning and Zoning Commission. He has a family legacy at St. Louis with four generations graduating from St. Charles Academy, Landry and St. Louis.

Long said Schram’s history with the school makes him the ideal leader for the task. “I think Gus, historically being at Landry High School, just knows what’s needed and being from the area knows how important it is for that project to be successful,” he said.

The chairmen are building their committees, Long said, and have some positions filled. “But if somebody is excited and wants to participate, they should certainly reach out. Even if not on the committee, there will be opportunities beyond that,” he said.

Long said he recognizes that community push back and “people holding out hope” that campus will not relocate is “part of the grieving process.”

“But part of the healing process is the community coming together and participating in these two very beautiful and significant endeavors.”

March’s statement from the Diocese said the rebuild is contingent on funding and while this is true, Long said this has caused some community members to continue to communicate as if the campus will not relocate.

“Contingency doesn’t mean we do nothing,” he said. “We have sufficient reason to believe we can start getting a design and an architect and things like that. A FEMA declaration should be imminent so there’s need to wait.”

All energy should now be geared towards helping the community move forward, he added.  “We need to put positive energy towards the next steps as we don’t foresee the outcome being different than us moving right now.”””

Downed signage and fencing surround the campus of St. Louis Catholic High School following Hurricane Laura’s arrival in Southwest Louisiana Aug. 27, 2020.

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