Erath School History

“School is a building that has four walls, with tomorrow inside.”

Lon Watters

Education is a powerful tool that has challenged generation after generation in the small town of Erath. Since the community emerged, education has been linked to the area’s growth and progress. Founding fathers who guided the newly settled area helped bring forth the importance of education. Although the town of Erath was not officially established until 1899, education was a vital issue for residents, even before the rural area was officially proclaimed a village. Some local settlers that surrounded the railroad in the mid 1890′s, believed in educating its youth. From the latter part of the century until now, many caring parents and educators in this area have opened doors for the children in this community. Together, they bonded to bring a vision for a brighter future.

In the nineteenth century, the first School Board meeting was held on March, 28, 1876. On August 10, 1877, minutes recorded at the meeting stated that schools were authorized in all wards of Vermilion Parish. During this time, teachers were appointed by the School Board, but the local residents provided the structure. During the end of the nineteenth century, schools had been established around the outer edges of (what is now the) Erath Community. One school was located at the residence of Minos C. Broussard, located about two miles north of what is now Erath. One was located next to the Methodist Church, which is now the Henry area. Another school next to the residence of Desire Hebert accommodated the populated Bayou Tigre settlement located south of Erath. Some of the larger plantation owners provided their children with private tutors.

Henry High School which had been established in 1877, graduated their first student, J. H. Williams, in 1900. Later, Mr. Williams returned to Henry High as Principal and later became Superintendent of Vermilion Parish Schools and served for over thirty years. With the establishment of the railroad in the Erath settlement around 1893, education became important to families in this newly established area.

Dr. Joe E. Kibbe, Semar Broussard, Pierre Ubal LeBlanc, Telesphor Nunez, Frank Williams and many others, valued the opportunities of a good education. So Dr. Joe Kibbe, with the support of town founder August Erath, Ollie J. Moss and others, petitioned the School Board for a school to be established in the area. The School Board then authorized the plan and a three room school was built.

The first school house was built at the north end of Kibbe Street. It was located at 203 North Kibbe Street. In 1899, Erath was established as a village. By the turn of the century, a new community had outgrown its first little schoolhouse. At the time of the census in the year 1900, a total of fifty six families resided in the Erath Corporation limits. The total number of residents at that time was two hundred and seventy. Pierre Ubal LeBlanc had been elected to the School Board and by 1903 a new two story school frame was built directly in front of the older school. The building was erected on the comer of Putnam and Kibbe offering an elementary education from the first through seventh grade. After seven years children were offered two years of high school.

By 1920, the Erath school enrollment had increased in the two story frame building. Additional classrooms were acquired on the second level of the Erath Mercantile Company located on Lastie. In addition, the School Board authorized a three year school curriculum including eighth through tenth grade. Additional classrooms were also used in a two story frame building on Edward Street which was owned by Semar Broussard and later by T. J. Suire. This structure was destroyed in a fire in 1938, along with Cap’s Confectionery and the Bijou Dance Hall located on the comer of Broadway and Edwards.

From the turn of the century through 1920, roads were mostly dirt with a few which were covered with light gravel. During this time, mules were used to pull the school bus wagon that brought the children to school. The mules were allowed to graze near the coulee that ran behind the school. On one very unusual day, one of the mules actually fell into the coulee. A rope was then tied around the mule, while the children and teachers united to help the mule out of the water. Many of these students who are still living today enjoy sharing interesting stories like this with the younger Erath citizens.

In the early 1920′s records reveal the school enrollment to be one hundred fifty students with eleven teachers. The school offered seven years of elementary classes with three years of high school. The curriculum at that time included only ten grades. The 1922-1923 school terms were the final year for the second school in Erath. During this era, the Nation was still feeling the repercussions of the First World War In the late twenties and early thirties, the nation suffered greatly from the depression.

Dr. Joe Kibbe and his son, Pressley, along with others fought hard to develop a complete High School System despite all of the obstacles that blocked their path. The Kibbe’s along with Manson Harrington, Cabic Leblanc, (Mayor at that time) Frank Williams, and Honore L. LeBlanc petitioned the school board for a new school that would offer a four year high school curriculum. Those in grades 8, 9, 10 and 11 would be awarded a diploma upon completion of eleventh grade.

J. H. Williams, Superintendent and Ulysses “Tobee” Bernard, the first ward School Board Member created a school district that included Delcambre and extended into the second ward. The 1923 school year opened in a new three story brick building. The school was built on twelve acres of land, which was located on Broadway. The land was generously donated by Vernon Caldwell.

The first year enrollment at Erath High School was two hundred students, which included high school students from Delcambre. The first graduating class in 1924 had seven graduates. Four were from Erath and three from Delcambre.  Gerald Fahaye was the principal. Doryce Joseph Broussard, Alton Derouen, Nedier Richard and Vena Marie Harrington were graduates from the Erath Area, while Louise Blanche Delcambre, Rita Ann Landry and Aldoph Leo Sonnier were from the Delcambre area. The principals that served these two schools were Mr. Lafleur, Mr. Raphael Broussard, Mr. Alphe Hebert and Mr. Gerald Fahay. The basic curriculum during the early years included, reading, writing, arithmetic and English. During the mid 1920′s B. E. (Bert) Webb, a native of Mississippi, married Edez Boudreaux, a sister of Dr. L. M. Boudreaux, a family physician in Erath. While Webb was named Principal, his wife, Mrs. Webb taught first grade until their joint retirement in the early 1950′s.

From the late 1920′s through the forties, the high school curriculum included the requirement of four years of Agriculture and Home Economics, but the option was there for two years of French during the Junior and Senior years. Credits were offered for Chemistry, Algebra, Geometry, Geography, History, Science, Math, and Physical Education.  For graduation with a diploma, 16 credits were required during the four years of high school (grades eight through eleven). At that time, only eleven grades were offered.

Ulysses LeBlanc, a grandson of P. U. “Piglow” LeBlanc was elected to the Vermilion Parish School Board in 1929. He served as President in 1933, until his retirement in 1954. During his tenure, U. P. LeBlanc made significant changes to the school campus. This school housed an auditorium for Erath High students and faculty members. It was located on the second floor in the extended wing. Many townspeople attended social events and plays in the auditorium. But a need for a gymnasium was evident. The building of a new gymnasium began in 1938. The High School Gymnasium was completed in 1940, except for the installation of basketball goals. Then without warning, the town of Erath experienced a tragic flood. When the waters receded, the school officials noticed that the new floor of the gym had buckled. The floors had to be removed and a new floor and basketball goals were installed. During the flood, the citizens of Erath were evacuated to the school because it was the tallest building in town. A tragic incident occurred at the school during that time. A man, who suffered from epileptic seizures, was found dead on the first floor of the building during the flood of 1940. It was speculated that he suffered a seizure during the flood and drowned. A canning center was completed in the 1940′s at Erath High School.

During 1944, in the minutes of a School Board meeting, talk of adding an additional grade to the curriculum began. Children would attend first through twelfth grade at Erath High. In 1949, the final eleventh grade class graduated at Erath High. There were only three graduates that year. They were Daly Duplantis, Gayle “Monkey Sandoz and Bernice Shiner. Bernice Shiner later became the first female Umpire in Baseball’s Pro League. The graduating class of 1950 was the first class to complete a twelve year curriculum.

The Louisiana State Board of Education now required that students attend twelve years of school. By this time, the three story school building was unable to accommodate the student growth. A new building was constructed and it was dedicated in 1950. It accommodated the commerce department, band room, kitchen, and lunchroom. The expansion provided additional classrooms as well.

According to Curney Dronet’s book, in 1950, Henry Bernard Jr. was appointed the Principal at Erath High School, replacing Mr. Bert Webb. Henry Bernard Jr. had been born and raised in the Erath Community and had graduated from Erath High School. S. L. I. (now U. L.). He also attained a Master’s Degree from L. S. U. During his tenure in Erath, he brought forth improvements to the educational system. He remained at Erath High until he accepted the Principalship at Abbeville High in the middle 1960′s. He later served the Vermilion Parish School System as the Assistant Superintendent and then the Superintendent. In 1956, the Vermilion Parish School Board decided more room was needed so a three story school building was built. After the high school was built, construction began on an elementary building.

During the mid fifties, planning began for a new elementary building built directly in front of the three story school; the Erath Elementary School Building emerged. 

In 1957, an Industrial Arts building was constructed in anticipation of the program being implemented into the curriculum. It was a separate building to the west of the main high school building. It was connected to the school by a breezeway. The L-Shaped building was divided into two classrooms. The southern part was an Industrial Arts Room, while the other became the band room. In the early 1950′s there were concrete steps in the gym in which spectators put folding chairs to view events. By the late 1950′s wooden bleachers were added.

Also in 1957, the elementary school was completed in front of the three story structure. When the construction was complete, a contractor was hired to demolish the three story brick building.  All Erath children in grades 1 through 8 were housed in the new structure however was still considered to be a part of the Erath High School Plant. During that era, Henry Bernard and Robert Segura served consecutively as Principals of Erath High School, with the help of Assistant Principals Charles Bienvenu and then Sterling “T-Cap” Menard.

More improvements were made to the gym in 1963. The gym originally built in 1940 had a balcony on the east wall, as well as a narrow stage. It contained rest rooms, but no dressing rooms. To meet the newly required dimensions of a basketball court, they had to break the wall of the balcony. This renovation allowed for a larger playing court. The balcony was then closed off. Only windows remain for those who remember it. The front middle door through which many people had flowed was also sealed off. Two side entrances were added to the front of the building. Other improvements made at that time, included the enlargement of the stage.

At that time, a stadium was built at the high school football field to replace portable bleachers. In 1964, the girl’s gym was constructed behind the gym. It did not contain a regulation sized basketball court. This gym was used as the physical education facility for the girls at Erath High School. In 1965, Robert J. Segura Sr., was appointed Principal of Erath High School  replacing Henry Bernard Jr., who was appointed as Prmcipa1 at Abbeville High. Bob Segura served as the administrator through 1980, with the exception of 1976-1977 school term. M. C. Trahan served as acting Principal that year. Mr. Segura was credited with school improvements at Erath High. One of which was a new and improved agriculture building which was completed in 1971.

By 1972, more changes occurred.  Due to shortage space, grades one through three were relocated at Dozier Elementary, the abandoned African American School, which closed when integration occurred. Dozier Elementary then became a feeder school for Erath High School, which now involved grades 4-12. The elementary section housed grades four through eight.

Dozier Elementary’s first parish structure was built in 1942 for African American students. From 1911 through 1941, many African American students were taught in homes and churches within the community. In 1942, the first school house was built by the Vermilion Parish School Board. That structure was torn down. A newer building was erected in 1954. That school plant was shut down in 1968 due to integration.

The new Dozier Elementary School housing all children in Erath for grades 1, 2 and 3, opened in the fall of 1972 with Johnnie Suire as principal until 1980. In the fall of 1974, public schools in Vermilion Parish opened its doors to Kindergarten students for the first time. Dozier Elementary now housed Kindergarten through third grade children.

From 1979 until 1981, the process of air conditioning the schools took place. In 1979, construction began on the new Erath High School Gymnasium. Construction was completed in 1981. Mr. Segura retired in 1980, before the completion of the “new” gym. In 1980, Clarence Moss, a 1961 Erath High School Graduate was appointed as Principal.

In 1980 Sherry B. Trahan, a former Erath High School Graduate was appointed the new Principal at Dozier Elementary. She retired in 1986. Teddy Broussard, the Assistant Principal at Erath High School was then named the new Dozier Elementary Principal and he held this position 1986 through the year 2000. Teddy Broussard has earned several awards during his tenure at Dozier Elementary, one being the “National Distinguished Principal” Award where he traveled to Washington D. C. to receive this prestigious honor. Ralph Thibodeaux replaced Broussard in 2001.  Thibodeaux remained for two years at Dozier Elementary.

In 1984, Erath Elementary became an independent feeder school for Erath High. Erath Middle School was established as one feeder school for Erath High. The town of Erath now had three established schools. Dozier Elementary was the K-3 Primary School. Erath Middle housed students in fourth through eighth grade. Erath High School remained with grades nine through twelve.

Donald Primeaux was named the first Erath Elementary Principal. Primeaux remained until 1989. Later, Erath Elementary was renamed Erath Middle School. Ebrar Reaux became Principal at EMS in 1989. Henry Elementary Principal Lynn Moss was hired as the EMS Principal in 2005 and retired in 2014. Erath High Assistant Principal became the Erath Middle Principal in 2014. In 1991, Mrs. Matael Jordan was named the first EMS Assistant Principal. She remained until 2003. At that time, Laura LeBeouf was named EMS Assistant Principal. She remained until 2005. Errol Trahan was then hired in 2005.

Three educators in the Vermilion Parish School system who served as Assistant Principals at Erath High School from the early years though the seventies were Charles Bienvenu, Sterling Menard and Cleve Thibodeaux.

Others who served as Erath High Assistant Principals in the eighties and nineties were Donald Primeaux, Clarence Moss, Jimmy Vice, Mike Guilbeaux, Teddy Broussard,  Ralph Thibodeaux, Garolyn Landry, Charlotte Waguespack and Lynn Vincent.

The Erath Middle and Erath High School students still share the cafeteria which is located on the high school campus. Mr. Moss served from 1981 until 1991 as the Erath High School Principal. Donald Primeaux served as the Erath Middle School Principal from 1980 until 1989. Ebrar Reaux was named the new Erath Middle School Principal in 1989 and retired in May 2005. In the fall of 1991, Erath Middle School hired Mrs. Matael Jordan as the new Assistant Principal and remained until 2003. At that time, the new Assistant Principal named was Laura LeBouef.

Mrs. Garolyn Landry, a native of Maurice, became the first female Assistant Principal at Erath High School in 1989. She was voted as the “Assistant Principal of the Year” by the Louisiana Association of Principals in 1991. She became the first female Principal in 1992 at Erath High School. Ms. Landry was named the Coordinating Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction for Vermilion Parish Schools in 1996.

In 1996, Lynn Vincent began his tenure at Erath High. He served until 2000. In the fall of 2000, 1974 Erath High Graduate,  Charlotte Waguespack took over. Waguespack remained at Erath High from 2000-2005. Prior to her Principalship in 2000, Waguespack also served as the school's Assistant Principal.

Lynn Moss was another Principal in Erath who served as the Assistant Principal at Erath High.

Following the Erath Middle School fire in 2000, fourth grade students transferred officially to the Dozier Elementary campus. In addition to that, Pre K began in 2002.

Now Dozier Elementary, the primary school in Erath at that time was housing over 700 Pre-K through fourth grade students. In 2001, Teddy Broussard accepted a job at the State Board of Education and Ralph Thibodeaux served as the school’s next principal until 2003.

In January 2003, Dozier Elementary’s hired its first Assistant Principal Mrs. Elizabeth Gremillion. Gremillion became Dozier’s next Principal in the fall of 2003. At that time, Mrs. Dawn Amy was hired as the second Assistant Principal at Dozier Elementary.

In the fall of 2005, Erath school leadership changes came into play. Charlotte Waguespack, who was the Erath High Principal moved to Henry Elementary and Francis Touchet, an Abbeville native was named as the Erath High Principal in August 2005. Also new to Erath High administration at that time was Liz Segura Vice who was named the Assistant Principal at that time.

Other changes In 2005 occurred. Lynn Moss was moved from Henry Elementary and was named the Erath Middle Principal.  Errol Trahan was named Assistant Principal.

On September 24, 2005, the wrath of Hurricane Rita’s path flooded the town of Erath. The three Erath schools were platooned and shared campuses with other Vermilion Parish Schools. Dozier Elementary shared a campus with Maurice Elementary. JH Williams in Abbeville housed Erath Middle students, while Abbeville High housed Erath High students. In March of 2006, all three schools returned to their own Erath campuses. Dozier's move back to their original school plant was short lived. In the June of 2006, Dozier students were then transferred to FEMA buildings north of Erath with the intention of Dozier being renovated.

On September 13, 2008, Hurricane Ike hit the Galveston coast in Texas, sending a tidal surge once again in southwest Louisiana. Erath schools were hit again with flooding.  Fortunately the damages to the schools were minimal this time.

During the 2008-09 school year, it was decided by the Vermilion Parish School Board to create another elementary feeder school in the Erath area. Many students remained at Dozier, while others were moved to the second feeder school.

The solution to the growing number of students in the area was to renovate Dozier Elementary and build a second feeder school north of Erath. Each of the elementary feeder schools would be Pre K through 5. At that time, Erath Middle was hosting grades 4 through 8. With the new school (LeBlanc Elementary) being built, it would also alleviate Erath Middle's space problems as well. The middle school would now house grades 6th, 7th and 8th grade as opposed to grades 4 to 8.

In 2008, work began on renovating and remodeling Dozier Elementary’s original school plant (415 West Primeaux Street), while the second feeder school (which would later be named LeBlanc Elementary) was in the planning stages of being built. Plans were to reopen Dozier Elementary's facility in the fall of 2009, while LeBlanc Elementary's new faculty and student body would open their school year in the same FEMA portable buildings Dozier Elementary used from 2006-2009.  The new LeBlanc Elementary on the north end of the community (4511 E. LA Hwy 338) was built from 2009-2011. The LeBlanc Elementary plant was opened in August of 2011.

In June 2009, Dozier Elementary's Principal Elizabeth Gremillion retired from the Vermilion Parish Educational system. Karla Desormeaux Toups, (a former Dozier student and Erath native) was named Principal for the fall 2009.

In 2009, following the displacement of Dozier Elementary after Hurricane Rita, the campus was split and LeBlanc Elementary was formed. In August of 2009, Dozier Elementary moved back to the original plant on Primeaux Street with Karla Desormeaux  Toups as Principal and Natalie Hebert as the Assistant. 

Karla D. Toups has been the Assistant Principal at Eaton Park and Principal at Kaplan Elementary prior to that time. Vermilion Parish educator Natalie Guillot Hebert was named the new Assistant Principal at Dozier Elementary in 2009.

LeBlanc Elementary opened in 2009 and was located at the FEMA structure that Dozier Elementary had occupied from 2006-2009.  In 2009, LeBlanc Elementary Principal Dawn Amy and Assistant Principal Kimberly Etie were named leaders.  In 2011, LeBlanc Elementary opened the doors of its newly built structure north of Erath.

Timeline of school movement following Hurricane Rita's aftermath from September 24, 2005 until August 2011.

  • Erath schools closed from September 25th until October 5th due to Rita's flooding.
  • Erath High and Erath Middle were platooned to Abbeville High and JH Williams Middle until March 2006. Then returned to their campuses from March to May to complete the year.
  • From October 6, 2005 until March 13, 2006 Dozier Elementary was platooned and shared a campus with Cecil Picard Elementary @ Maurice.
  • Dozier Elementary returned to their campus temporarily from March 13, 2006 until May 2006.  The students and faculty returned to the stripped school plant without floor tiles, doors, etc.
  • From June of 2006 until June 2009, the Dozier Elementary faculty and staff were housed in FEMA portable building located at the Matte property on the North Road (north of Erath).
  • In August of 2009, Dozier Elementary students returned to their original school plant.
  • Also in August of 2009, a second feeder school in the Erath area opened. LeBlanc Elementary opened its doors using the portable FEMA buildings that Dozier Elementary used from 2006-2009. LeBlanc Elementary used the FEMA structures from 2009-2011. Construction on the new LeBlanc Elementary school located north of Erath began at that time and was completed in 2011. The FEMA buildings that stood on the Matte property were moved off of that property in 2011.
  • LeBlanc Elementary's new school plant located at 4511 E. LA Hwy 338, opened for the 1st time in August 2011. (Pre K-5th grade)

In the spring of 2012, Francis Touchet who had been a leader at Erath High since 2005, accepted a position at the state department and Jed Hebert was hired as the principal. At the same time, Sandy Huval was appointed the Erath High Assistant Principal to replace retiring Liz Vice.

In May of 2013, EHS leader Jed Hebert retired and Marc Turner was hired as the new EHS Principal. Turner, a 1994 Erath High graduate had worked as the Kaplan High Assistant Principal for two years prior to his appointment.

In 2013, Jeff Janette was named Assistant Principal at LeBlanc Elementary replacing Kimberly C. Etie' who moved to JHW.  After a couple of months, Janette left the Vermilion Parish system for new employment and Patricia Thibodeaux served as interim Assistant Principal until June of 2014.

In May of 2014, the Erath High Assistant Principal Sandy Huval was named as the Erath Middle School Principal replacing Lynn Moss who retired at that time. Patricia Thibodeaux who was working at LeBlanc Elementary as Assistant Principal was hired to replace Sandy Huval as the EHS Assistant Principal. Both Thibodeaux and Huval's appointments began in the summer of 2014. 

At the same time, Dozier Elementary Assistant Principal Natalie Guillot Hebert was named the Principal at Seventh Ward Elementary leaving the Assistant Principal position opened. At that time, Erath native, Christine Reaux Hebert was named the new Assistant Principal at DES. Another leader named was Kristin Moore who was named the new Assistant Principal at LeBlanc Elementary to replace Thibodeaux, who was moved as Assistant Principal at Erath High.

Education in this community stems back to the latter part of the nineteenth century. Through the efforts of courageous early settlers in the small village of Erath, some believed in and struggled for the powerful benefits of educating their children. Since the birth of the educational system in this community, many in Erath have experienced that within the four walls of their school, hope did exist for a brighter tomorrow. During the twentieth century, many changes have taken place within its educational system. Yet the vision brought forth by its founding fathers, remained steadfast through each transition that occurred. The original vision was one of hope that would bring a brighter tomorrow to those living in the newly established territory of Erath.

Through the eyes of those who shared a vision, emerged a long line of caring parents and educators who joined forces to offer the children the benefits of an education….an education that not only probed the minds, but also touched their hearts. It began with a tiny school house at the north end of Kibbe over one hundred years ago, but ends with the hope and dream of a productive future for all of those who were offered the opportunity of an education.

 

Erath High School

808 S. Broadway Street

Erath, LA 70533

Phone - 337-937-8451

Fax - 337-937-5109

 

Website URL http://www.vrml.k12.la.us/ehs

 

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