Inclusivity: Iberville Parish School Board holds ribbon cutting for MSA Performing Art Center

PETER SILAS PASQUA ppasqua@postsouth.com
Iberville Parish School System superintendent P. Edward Cancienne, Jr., center, speaks during a ribbon cutting ceremony for MSA-West's Performing Arts Center on Monday evening. Also pictured is Rev. Karen Gray, architect Brad Guerin, school board president Melvin Lodge and board member Darlene Ourso.
POST SOUTH PHOTO/Peter Silas Pasqua

PLAQUEMINE - The Iberville Parish School Board and the faculty of the Math, Science, and Arts Academy-West hosted an open house, tour, and ribbon cutting for its $12.5 million state-of-the-art Performing Arts Center Monday at the school.

School board members, administrators, faculty, parents and community members attended the event to welcome the official opening of the new 40,000 square-foot arts education center that has been under construction for more a year.

"This place will be used a lot by all of the school children throughout the parish," superintendent P. Edward Cancienne, Jr. said. "This is not about exclusivity. It is about inclusivity. It is about all of Iberville Parish and I think that is the most important point."

Also speaking were school board member Brian Willis, chairman of the maintenance committee that oversaw the project, and Elvis J. Cavalier, chief academic officer.

"This is another great opportunity for the kids of Iberville Parish," Willis said. "If it wasn't for this board coming together and fighting, everybody wouldn't have this opportunity. This is the most beautiful facility in the entire state of Louisiana."

The event began with string music from MSA-West orchestra students and student-led tours. Guests were guided through the nine special rooms dedicated to visual, performing, and musical arts and explained their purpose and use. Faculty joined in the discussions as visitors toured each room.

The facility was designed by Fusion Architecture of Plaquemine. Architect Brad Guerin introduced his partners and gave accolades to the contractor, Lincoln Builders.

Guerin said the academy built on the former E.J. Gay site is six years in the making and includes 48 classes up from the originally proposed 24 to allow a total capacity of 1,200 students.

Initial renovations to the school included site improvements, a new gymnasium and chemistry labs, media center and library.

All of the participants joined in to cut the ribbon and a brief reception followed. Rev. Karen Gay of Plaquemine gave a blessing of the building.

The new facility includes the 525-seat performance center, orchestra pit, extensive lighting, technology enhancements, and sound control boards and booths.

The specialized classrooms include a dance room, two art rooms with a shared Kiln, a theatrical black box, elementary and middle school band rehearsal rooms, an Orchestra room, strings room, Percussion room and a choir room.

There is also a stage construction set room with access via rollup doors for truck loading to the main stage and the first 100 seats have been wired for power and equipped with fold away arms for laptop use. A special projection with an oversized screen mounted above the stage was also installed for distance learning opportunities.

"The project rivals in comparison to some of the most modern and technologically advanced performing arts centers not only in the state of Louisiana, but nationally as well," Cavalier said.

Angela deGravelles contributed to the this article