By T. Scott Boatright
After nearly three years of vagabond-like teaching and learning, the faculty, staff and students of Lincoln Preparatory School have a new home.
Lincoln Prep’s elementary school students – somewhere around 200 first- through fourth-graders, attended class for the first time ever Tuesday in the new $30 million, 100,000-square foot school building, located on a 400-acre site located off of La. Hwy, 150 (Old Grambling Road) where the old Louisiana Tech Golf Course used to be located.
“The students are happy and excited. They were overwhelmed,” said Lincoln Prep Executive Director Gordan Ford of how the first day in the building went. “They loved it. This was a fantastic day for everybody involved and associated with Lincoln Preparatory School.”
While Lincoln Prep’s first- and second-graders had been attending classes on the second floor of New Living Word Church, the third- and fourth-graders had been attending classes held in modular buildings behind the old Fred’s Store site in Grambling where older students have been attending class.
The school, which formed after a decades-long desegregation order forced the closure of the old Grambling Laboratory School in 2017, had originally held classes in that building before a court order forced the school to move off the grounds of Grambling State University.
That led to the school having to conduct classes at various locations, including the old Fred’s, New Living Word Church, Trinity Methodist, Grace Methodist and Calvary Baptist.
“We were even at the movie theater for a while,” Ford said. “That was after schools started back up after being closed during the COVID pandemic. The movie theater hadn’t reopened yet, so we held some classes there until the modular buildings behind Fred’s were ready.”
The Grambling-based charter school plans to start holding middle school classes in the new building next week before completing the transition with high school classes beginning at the site in two weeks.
“This means so much to have our own space to know where we’re going to be and not having to beg for places to keep holding classes and keep the school going,” Ford said. “It’s a huge relief. It’s a game-changer. It stabilizes our school and removes rumors of it maybe and those kinds of things.
“It signals to everybody that we’re here to stay and ready for prime time.”
The new school is being financed through around $30 million in revenue bonds that will be paid back over 40 years by a portion of Lincoln Preparatory School’s Minimum Foundation Program state funding dedicated to facilities.
Lincoln Prep’s boys basketball team, which fell in a hard-fought state championship showdown in Lake Charles, were the first students to get a look at their new home.
“When they came home on Sunday they came through the Fred’s location parking lot where a group of people had gathered to celebrate their return home,” Ford said. “Then the bus traveled parade-style through town, ending up at the new school where the players got to go in and get a look at things.”
Plans for the new building include a football field, a gymnasium and baseball and softball fields.
Right now the Lincoln Prep baseball and softball teams are playing all games on their opponent’s home fields.
“Those are coming and I think will help build even more excitement about those programs,” Ford said. “And it’s been building. Our softball team went to Richwood last week and won a doubleheader. So excitement over our spring sports is growing.”.
“We’re actually looking to try and play a spring game on our own football field this spring,” Ford said. “That’s a big deal, especially after not having our own field or being able to play at GSU for so long now.
“This is a great time to be a Panther – a great time to be a student at Lincoln Prep.”