[StBernard] Change of scenery

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Mon Jan 7 23:40:56 EST 2008

Change of scenery
by Stephen Maloney

Posted: Monday, January 7, 2008

Archbishop Hannan High School has faced major changes in the past two years
and school leaders are looking forward to a fresh start in St. Tammany
Parish as the Archdiocese of New Orleans moves forward with plans to
demolish the school's original campus.

Archdiocese of New Orleans spokeswoman Sarah Comiskey said there are no
plans to rebuild or restore the school's former campus after the Federal
Emergency Management Agency surveyed the buildings.

"We have FEMA's approval for demolition on all but one building on campus,"
Comiskey said. "We are just waiting for a demolition date. The building we
are keeping is the newest structure on campus: the arts and science

The Archdiocese reached an agreement with the St. Bernard Parish Recreation
Department allowing it to use Hannan's football and baseball fields for
leagues starting this spring, Comiskey said.

Hannan was the first Roman Catholic high school to open in St. Bernard
Parish with an initial class of 72 students in 1987.

When Hurricane Katrina wiped out the school's original campus in 2005,
enrollment had swelled to 548, Principal John Cavell said.

Now about 200 students attend classes every day at Hannan's temporary campus
on the grounds of St. Joseph's Abbey in Covington.

Famous for its bakery and quiet seclusion, the abbey teems with activity as
high school students navigate narrow outdoor walkways between the modular

Cavell said the Hannan community will develop permanent ties to St. Tammany
as the school's old home is demolished. Hannan draws from the same student
population as nearby Catholic institutions St. Paul's School and St.
Scholastica Academy, but Cavell said there are enough students in
fast-growing St. Tammany for all three schools.

"The decision to move Hannan to St. Tammany was made initially because so
many St. Bernard residents had relocated to the North Shore and they wanted
a Catholic school," he said. "There is enough demand that our influence will
not affect St. Paul's or SSA one bit."

Hannan will soon leave its temporary quarters. Cavell said construction
began in August on a new campus at the intersection of state highways 1077
and 1085 in Goodbee, just north of Madisonville.

Fauntleroy and Latham Architects designed the new campus on a 12-acre
stretch of land with room for growth.

Cavell said the new campus will be more than twice as large as the temporary
campus and house up to 600 students when doors opened one week after

"It's going to be a state-of-the-art facility with all the latest
technology," he said. "We are going to have language labs and computer labs
and the entire campus will have wireless Internet from day one."

Instead retrofitting existing buildings with new technology, Cavell said
architects incorporated room for advances, giving Hannan a technological
advantage that could last another decade.

The student body followed Hannan to Covington, including students from St.
Bernard who intended to go to Hannan before the storm but hadn't yet
enrolled and students from St. Tammany Parish who joined Hannan at
Covington, Cavell said.

Hannan blends three groups of students with vastly different backgrounds.
But Cavell said the student body gets along well despite its differences.

"Almost all of our seniors attended school at the old Archbishop Hannan High
School, and several of our juniors also attended school at the old site,"
Cavell said. "The sophomores, probably half the freshmen and the rest of the
juniors that didn't attend Hannan before are all from St. Bernard. Half of
our freshmen and just about all of our eighth-graders are from St. Tammany."

Within four or five years, the last of the school's original students will
graduate, Cavell said, leaving only students who have never stepped foot on
the school's original campus in Meraux.

Scott Manguno, a Hannan graduate and social studies teacher, said the core
of the school remains untouched by change.

"I still run into family members at football games and they all ask me about
how much the school has changed," Manguno said.

Manguno credits the St. Tammany community with smoothing Hannan's transition
to the North Shore.

"The story about how the parents have moved from St. Bernard has been
written about some," he said. "But I think the most exciting story is the
one where this group of parents, old and new Hannan families, are working
together to help build and rebuild a school.".

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