Thrilled to get new home

LSMSA Students erupt amidst a flurry of confetti in celebration of the start of construction of the school’s new 110,000-square-foot residence hall. Photo by Marcus Journey
Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts (LSMSA) celebrated the start of construction of its new 110,000-square-foot residence hall located on the LSMSA campus Wednesday, March 13.
Due to expected inclement weather, the Groundbreaking Ceremony was moved inside to Treen Auditorium.
“Because we are a residental high school it is such an integral part of the whole living/learning experience. It will provide a better opportunity to learn. It will also help bring in new students where the old dorms might have made (prospective students) more hesitant to come to school here,” said senior class president Rachel Judson of Lake Charles. She plans to major in political science in college.
Sen. W. Jay Luneau addressed the crowd of more than 600 students, faculty, staff, alumni, former directors, faculty emeriti, city and state officials, school partners, and affiliate organization officers, board members and trustees. Among those attending were former Sen. Donald G. Kelly and the first LSMSA Executive Director, Dr. Robert A. Alost, two of the four founding fathers of LSMSA.
“This morning has been a long time coming,” said Luneau. “The residence halls are a vitally important part of students’ academic and personal development. In fact, the American Council on Education has noted that educational effectiveness is dependent on the healthy functioning of the student from outside, as well as within, the classroom.
“The students whose housing and study conditions constantly interfere with learning are in no position to get the most of their studies. These are the reasons why this project is so vitally important.”
Luneau saw the current conditions of LSMSA’s residence halls during a recent visit to campus with the Governor.

Breaking ground for the new residence hall at LSMSA are, from left, Executive Director Steve Horton, Board Chair Sharon Gahagan and two of the four founding fathers of the school, former Sen. Donald G. Kelly and the first LSMSA Executive Director, Dr. Robert A. Alost. The remaining two founders are Gov. David Treen and Jimmy D. Long Sr.
Photo by Juanice Gray
 “It wasn’t so long ago that First Lady Donna Edwards, Gov. John Bel Edwards and I toured the campus and met with many of you,” said Sen. Luneau. “It was a wonderful day, filled with the excitement that can only be found in a place only as special as LSMSA. The day was marred by one gloomy aspect—our tour of the residence halls.”
The school’s current residence halls, Caddo and Prudhomme, were generously loaned to LSMSA in the 1980s by Northwestern State University (NSU). While it was originally planned that the buildings would only be in use for five years, state budget restraints delayed requests for a new residence hall until 2005, well past the buildings’ intended use. The buildings are also located on opposite ends of NSU’s campus.
The new residence hall will be located on campus and will house 360 students. The living quarters, which will include separate residential towers for male and female residents, will include 10 residential neighborhoods comprised of several two-bedroom suites, a common room, a study lounge, a laundry room and a kitchen. The facility will also house several activity areas including a lounge, a crafts room, an outdoor recreation area, a gaming room and a theater room.
Attendees included Sen. Gerald Long, Sen. Dan “Blade” Morrish, Rep. Beryl Amedee, Rep. Kenny Cox, Rep. Terry Brown, Natchitoches Mayer Lee Posey, NSU President Dr. Chris Maggio, University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors Member Lola W. Dunahoe, Facility Planning and Control Director Mark Moses and Project Manager Ellen Jenkins. Project architects Doug Ashe, of Ashe Broussard Weinzettle Architects, Ken Tipton, of Tipton Associates, and Contractor Rob Ratcliff, of Ratcliff Construction, also participated in groundbreaking ceremonies.
During the ceremony, Senior Class President Rachel Judson led the audience in the Pledge and National Anthem and Student Government Organization President William Heitman (’19) introduced Sen. Luneau. The LSMSA Chorale and Mixed Ensemble provided music.
LSMSA Executive Director Steve Horton and LSMSA Board of Directors Chair Sharon Gahagan presided.
“We’re so grateful for all who came to the groundbreaking ceremonies, especially those who over the past 35 years have given so much time and support to the school,” said Horton. “We are really excited for the changes that will be seen on campus over the next several weeks, and we are really happy to welcome Ratcliff Construction into the LSMSA family.”
Ratcliff Construction, who was recently awarded the construction contract, is set to begin development of the new residence hall in the next 30 days. It is estimated that the facility will take 24 months to complete, with the Fall 2021 class being the first to reside in the new facility.
The reception which followed, in the school’s Center for Performance and Technology, included a 200 pound cake in the shape of the new facility. The cake was made by Alex Jenkins (’88), of Lafayette.
The ceremony is available to stream online. Watch the full ceremony in its entirety at