Erath School History
a building that has four walls, with tomorrow inside.”
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 it’s 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
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 it’s 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
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.
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.
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.
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. The elementary school was built in front of the three story
structure. When the construction was complete, a contractor was hired to
demolish the three story brick building. 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.
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 “gir1″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.
During the 1972, school year changes were made at Erath High School due to lack
of space. First, second and third grade students were transferred to a renovated
old school structure in Erath.
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. 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 2000.
Thibodeaux remained for two years at Dozier Elementary.
2002, Dozier Elementary’s hired its first Assistant Principal Mrs. Elizabeth
Gremillion. Gremillion became Dozier’s next Principal in the fall of 2002. At
that time, Mrs. Dawn Amy was hired as the second Assistant Principal at Dozier
Elementary. In 2009, following the displacement of Dozier Elementary after
Hurricane Rita, the campus was split and LeBlanc Elementary was formed. Dozier
Elementary moved back to the original plant on Primeaux Street with Karla Toups
as Principal and Natalie Hebert as the Assistant.
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
2012, LeBlanc Elementary opened the doors of its newly built structure south of
Erath. In 2013, Jeff Janette was named Assistant Principal at LeBlanc
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.
A short time later, the Erath High School Campus made physical changes in the
school plant and Erath Middle School was established as one feeder school for
Erath High. Donald Primeaux was selected as the Principal. 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.
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. Since then the Assistant Principal has been Laura LeBouef.
In 2005, Lynn Moss was named the Erath Middle Principal and Errol Trahan was
named Assistant Principal.
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. Lynn Vincent and Charlotte Waguespack both served terms as
Principal at EHS. Vincent served from 1996 until 2000. Waguespack served from
2000-2005. In 2005, Francis Touchet became Principal and remained until 2012.
Jed Hebert from Lafayette served from 2012-2013 and Erath native Marc Turner was
named the Erath High Principal in the fall of 2013.
Many educators in the Vermilion Parish School system have served as Assistant
Principals at Erath High School during its history. These individuals include:
Charles Bienvenu, Cleve Thibodeaux, Sterling Menard, Jimmy Vice, Ralph
Thibodeaux, Garolyn Landry, Lynn Vincent, Charlotte Waguespack, Mike Guilbeaux,
Teddy Broussard, Clarence Moss, Donald Primeaux, Lynn Moss, Francis Touchet, Liz
Vice and Sandy Huval.
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.
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.