West Bank charter group to take over Cohen High School

Print More

Rendering of the new Cohen High School by HMS Architects.

Walter L. Cohen College Prep High School in the Milan neighborhood will be operated by Collegiate Academies beginning in the 2023-24 school year, NOLA Public Schools announced on Thursday (Dec. 15).

The New Orleans College Prep board, citing dwindling enrollment, said in October it plans to relinquish its Cohen charter at the end of this school year.

NOLA-PS Superintendent Dr. Avis Williams said the historic school’s legacy will be retained. The school colors — Kelly green, white and gray — and Green Hornet mascot will stay at Cohen.

Rosenwald Collegiate Academy, a West Bank high school that opened in the 2018-19 school year, will move from Algiers to the new building at 3520 Dryades St., constructed on the school’s historic site. Rosenwald will then adopt the Cohen name.

Students from both Walter L. Cohen College Prep and Rosenwald Collegiate Academy will be guaranteed enrollment in the Uptown school, Williams said.

Cohen, named for a prominent free-man-of-color and close associate of Booker T. Washington, opened at the same site in 1949. It was the city’s fifth public high school for Black students.

Cohen boasts a long list of celebrity alumni, including Tyler Perry, Big Freedia, Mystikal and Soulja Slim.

In recent years, it has been near the bottom of the city’s public school rankings, earning D or F grades with the state.

As a new high school, Rosenwald does not yet have a letter grade with the state Board of Education. According to its website, its first group of students, the Class of 2022, outperformed much of the city’s charter schools in their end-of-course exams, achieving the highest ninth-grade LEAP scores in the city. This earned the school an A in growth.

“To be part of such a storied legacy and tradition like Cohen will be a great next chapter,” said Jerel Bryant, CEO of Collegiate Academies and former principal of G.W. Carver High School, in a press release. “Schools like Carver and Cohen are institutions that have shaped lives for generations in this city. We take this responsibility seriously.”

The students will move into a new 103,000-square-foot three-story building with 35 classrooms that is designed to accommodate about 600 students and 75 faculty and staff members.

Cohen’s total enrollment has fallen to about 170 students, according to U.S. News & World Report. Although Cohen has a high retention rate, its ninth-grade enrollment has dropped precipitously in recent years, especially as students were displaced by the construction.

The new Cohen facility includes more career and technical education spaces, a large media center, dedicated art spaces, a full gymnasium and a 300-seat auditorium.

“I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Rosenwald scholars and families who will be part of the District 5 family,” said Katie Baudouin, the Orleans Parish School Board member for District 5. “The new facility is amazing and will offer wonderful instructional opportunities and amenities to help students flourish and reach their full potentials.”

The merger of the two student bodies in the Uptown school is part of a consolidation plan to optimize the School Board’s highest quality facilities after data showed New Orleans can expect smaller student populations in the coming years, according to a NOLA Public Schools press release.

NOLA Public Schools

Walter L. Cohen College Prep High School, 3520 Dryades St.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.