Purchasing old school is a good move

Published 11:45 am Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Where math and English were once taught and the chatter of young voices still echo through long abandoned hallways, the sounds of budding musicians and rehearsed lines of aspiring thespians may soon be heard.

Stoves and ovens that once were used to prepare school lunches may collectively become a culinary blank canvas for fledgling gourmet chefs.

A proposal by Bogalusa city officials to transform the vacant Columbia Street Magnet School into an arts and culture and early childhood development center that could potentially be modeled after a similar facility in New Orleans is the type of innovative thinking and creativity that is necessary to move this region forward. The idea is for the city to purchase the abandoned school from the Bogalusa City School System and model it after the highly acclaimed Mahalia Jackson Early Childhood and Family Learning Center in New Orleans.

Officials say the multi-purpose facility would offer programs appealing to everyone, from the very young to the elderly.

For the youngsters, an early childhood development center would cater to young people from birth to 5 years of age. Adults would occupy the other half of the building with a potential cache of personal enrichment classes being floated, including acting and music classes and dance lessons.

Additionally, there is even the possibility of transforming the old cafeteria into a class where burgeoning chefs would be introduced to the art of cooking and the more advanced would be able to explore their own culinary creativity.

The proposed facility would serve many purposes and is the type of cultural center so sorely needed in this community. Additionally, once completed, the center would be another notch in the continued redevelopment of the downtown Bogalusa area.

City officials hope to purchase the building as soon as possible, and city and school system officials were scheduled to meet this week. Officials need to work out any differences as quickly as possible so the transformation of a building filled with echoes of the past can move forward and pave the way for the future.