LSMSA opens new Living Learning Commons
NATCHITOCHES, La. (KALB) - It’s the first full week of school for many students across Central Louisiana, but it’s the start of an extra special school year for the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts (LSMSA), welcoming students back to campus with in-person classes and a new dormitory.
The school put the finishing touches on the new Living Learning Commons this past weekend, moving in 360 students from 41 of the state’s 64 parishes.
“They’re excited. I think the ones who lived in Caddo and Prudhomme are probably the most excited because they knew what they had before and what they’re moving to,” said Dr. Steve Horton, LSMSA’s executive director.
The LLC is a facility the campus has been working towards since its founding. Originally, the dorms of Caddo Hall and Prudhomme Hall were only supposed to be a temporary living situation for students. However, a five-year usage agreement with Northwestern State University, whose campus LSMSA is adjacent to, quickly turned into more than 35 years.
Horton credits the long-awaited construction of the building to Governor John Bel Edwards and a legislative delegation whos believe in the school.
“They saw what the students were living in,” said Horton. “I think realized that the state owed this population what was promised to them 30 years ago and saw fit to find the money to fund this dream that’s been in place and a plan that’s been in process for a very long time.”
The LLC has made several improvements to its facilities, trading in coin laundry machines for a flat-rate student fee, decreasing the per-suite occupancy from six to four, plus adding a fully-equipped kitchen, game room, and a commons area on every floor.
The building is made up of three towers, each taking the name of the school’s previous residence halls, Caddo for girls, Prudhomme for boys and Bossier as a spill-over tower meant to alternate on a yearly basis, housing whichever group doesn’t fit in their assigned tower each year.
And for the first time ever, LSMSA no longer merges with the NSU campus.
“We’re our own campus,” said Horton. “We now are just proudly adjacent to the Northwestern campus.”
However, living in a dormitory has its own set of challenges, none more unique than in the time of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We miss the kids,” said Horton. “I miss the faculty. We ran virtually for the last year. Some of the faculty I have not seen since March of 2020. I haven’t seen a student body in over a year. Student life has been affected, campus life is different.”
But as students return to classes, LSMSA is prepared to adapt, continuing to follow COVID safety guidelines as they evolve, and working with Natchitoches Regional Medical Center to provide in-house telehealth visits.
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