Henry High being torn down
HENRY - A piece of Margaret Menard Denais and Walda Brasseaux Rageur’s souls are slowly disappearing this week as contractors begin tearing down the buildings of the old Henry High School.
The two ladies, both 1953 Henry High graduates, got the news this week that the buildings of their old high school are being demolished.
“One of my daughters called and told me,” said Denais. “It makes you want to take a breath and cry.”
Rageur and her family live a mile past Henry High. She passed there recently and saw the heavy equipment knocking down the school.
“This is sad,” said Rageur. “It was a sad thing to see. I don’t understand why are they doing this. It is a big loss to Henry. A piece of me also disappeared.”
The two ladies have deep family ties to the school, as well as historical ties.
In the early 1950s, Henry High did not have a mascot. Margaret and Walda teamed up to come up with a name. Abbeville High was the Wildcats. Erath was the Bobcats. Delcambre was the Panthers. Cat mascots were popular back then, so they came up with Cougars. The name was approved by the student-body and thus, Henry became the Cougars.
However, the Cougars died in 1992 when the School Board voted to consolidate schools and close small high schools such as Henry, Meaux, Indian Bayou and E. Broussard.
The closing of Henry High still does not sit too well with Margaret, who worked at the school for 30 years as a secretary.
“The thing I disliked about Henry school was when they closed it,” said Denais. “They took it away from me. It was piece of me. Today, that is still not a good memory.”
Then came a hurricane named Rita that changed Henry school and the community forever.
The school has been closed for close to four years. The storm surge of Hurricane Rita brought close to 10 feet of water into the school. The surge came with such force that it knocked a back brick wall down.
The School Board decided it would be too costly to repair the school in a flood prone area. Since that decision, the school and Henry flooded in September because of Hurricane Ike’s storm surge.
Henry gym is being restored to house school functions. Once the remaining buildings are torn down, and the cement removed, the grounds will become a parking lot.
Rageur wanted to know where the girls’ 1953 state trophy the basketball team won went.
Jerome Puyau, coordinating supervisor of maintenance for the school board, said all of the trophies that were in the trophy case in the gym will be returned to the case. The banners that hung on the wall in the gym are being put back. The lines on the gym floor are painted the same Henry High blue color.
Denais and her family moved to Maurice after the first storm surge. She still visits friends in the small community but has yet to see the demolition taking place.
She is in no hurry to see the piles of debris. Denais has her memories of the school, and that is how she wants to remember Henry High.
“We had a lot of fun,” said Denais.
Lynn Moss was the principal of Henry Elementary when the first surge came. She was there for four years and knows all too well how the community feels about its school. She is also an E. Broussard High School graduate and knows what it feels like to see your high school close.
“It is kind of like losing part of the community,” said Moss, who is now the principal at Erath Middle School. “You feel for them.”