After years of construction and struggle, Audubon Charter School will welcome students back to its newly renovated campus on Broadway Street this week.
“This is a long-awaited day, to be back on Broadway,” Audubon Charter School principal Janice Dupuy said during a Monday-morning ribbon cutting ceremony.
The ceremony represents the completion of a process that took at least five years. Site work at the campus began in 2010, though a contentious search for a temporary building kept them at Broadway until they could move into temporary buildings in Gentilly in late 2011. The start of construction was complicated by a dispute and lawsuit with Broadway neighbors about traffic patterns at the campus and did not begin until late 2012, and then a disagreement between the Orleans Parish School Board and its contractors over the installation of the building’s steel frame pushed the project back again until 2015.
During Monday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, Dupuy alluded to that history by quoting Frederick Douglass: “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”
“Today required much, much struggle,” Dupuy said, “but also represents much progress.”
For other speakers, the school’s reopening represents triumph in a much larger struggle, the recovery of New Orleans after the flooding that followed the levee breaks after Hurricane Katrina. French Consul Gregor Trumel described the building — which he praised for its avant-garde energy efficiency — as “proof that New Orleans can be so strong.”
“We have recovered here, and out students are able to move back into an environment that is better than they had before,” said OPSB Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr.
The school’s consistently high and improving ratings — it has been an A-rated school for years, and posted its highest-ever School Performance Score last fall — also drew the praise of many speakers.
“A quality education that you can give your child is the best gift in the world,” said state Rep. Neil Abramson. “Having such a great school deserves a great facility to go with it.”
While contractors put the finishing touches on the building, students return to school at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, said facilities manager Alisa Dupre.
[Note: The ceremony just ended, and this article is still being updated with photos and comments.]