You Are Here: The Administration Building
Hidden behind the busy school hallways and classrooms, lies one of Catholic High’s most overlooked areas. Today, it is home to various offices of different Administrators and Admissions Counselors. However, the atmosphere here is rather different than most school’s office spaces. The interior of the building is less like an office complex and more closely related to a trendy home of the 1960s. The structure itself still possesses a cozy and pleasant ambiance, which can easily relate to its past residents.
Before becoming administration offices in 1995, this building was an on-campus home to the Christian Brothers. The Christian Brothers are an order established by St. John Baptiste de La Salle, the patron saint of teachers. Although it is possibly the least visible area on Catholic High campus, the current administration building holds some of the school’s richest history and memorabilia from the past and present.
Before Catholic High was created, the Christian Brothers taught at St. Peter’s College, which was established in 1918. The actual building was bought for about $20,000 in 1913. During the time of St. Peter’s College, the brothers lived in the Henshaw Mansion. At St. Peter’s College, the brothers were extremely dedicated to their role as disciplinarians and to improving the school. One of the brothers actually wrote the school song of St. Peter’s College. It has also been said that they would walk around the school at night when saying their prayers. Even though the brothers at St. Peter’s College were private and rarely seen out in public, they were loved by many. Although St. Peter’s College was loved by many, it had a new beginning in 1958.
Catholic High School was established in 1958, and was an expansion of St. Peter’s College. The new school changed names to Catholic High School because St. Peter’s College highlighted only one church parish instead of the multiple church parishes in New Iberia. Therefore, an agreement was made to call the newly located St. Peter’s College, Catholic High School. The brothers ran this school as well as being the coaches and teachers.
In 1964, the current administration building was built as a home for the LaSallian Brothers. Between their time of living in the Henshaw Mansion and in their newly built home, the brothers rented a house across the street from Catholic High on de LaSalle Drive. While at Catholic High, the brothers were less cloistered, and they were known for going to students’ houses to eat dinner and pray with their families. Brothers often had interesting teaching methods; some would even play national anthems of all countries while their students were taking tests. Even though they were often serious, they also had a comical side. For example, Brother Pat was known for his classroom with two doors, one called the holy door, which only he could walk through. However, as time passed, the brothers grew scarce, and lay teachers began teaching at Catholic High. The Christian Brothers eventually ended their time at Catholic High in 1995. The last Christian Brother principal of Catholic High was Brother Richard Kovatch.
The essence of the Christian Brothers is still present throughout Catholic High today. Statues, prayers, and even the star symbol on the school crest hold their memories close to the hearts of CHS students. The CHS school motto “Acta non verba” goes back to St. Peter’s College’s first graduating class’s motto “Deeds, not words.” This class’s motto was most likely based on the many lessons they learned from the brothers. Even little things, such as service hours that must be completed in grades seventh through twelfth are called LaSallian service hours in honor and memory of John Baptiste de LaSalle. Around campus, there are reminders of the brothers’ presence. The plaque in front of the high school hallway is dedicated to Brother Richard Kovatch. A statue of St. John Baptiste de LaSalle is also located in the parking lot near the entrance of Catholic High.
The Christian Brothers’ home was not one built for luxury. It seems hard to imagine that these office spaces were once the tiny bedrooms for some of the most beloved men in New Iberia. Their outdoor garden area in the center of the structure still remains alive and beautiful today. Out of the whole current administration building, it seems as if the brothers’ parlor and living room are the two rooms that have remained the most similar to their past appearances. By simply sitting in the parlor, you can easily go back in time and imagine the brothers having a meeting or discussion in the cozy room. Even though some rooms have been transformed to workplaces, there are small reminders throughout the building of the rooms’ past purposes.
Today, the administration building keeps memories alive by providing a safe place for special keepsakes from the past and present. Along the hallways are graduation pictures dating all the way back to the first graduating classes of St. Peter’s College, Mount Carmel, and Catholic High. The mixture of old and new is truly what makes the administration building special. Students may grow old and graduate from this school; however, the building reminds them that no matter what path they take in life, they will always remain a part of the Catholic High family.
59: The Panther. 1966. Print. Catholic High School, New Iberia, LA.
Landry, Smitty. Personal interview. 20 Mar. 2012.
Segura, Eugenie. “This Is CHS.” English III. Catholic High School. New Iberia, Louisiana. 19 Jan. 2012.
Seventy-one Panther. 1971. Print. Catholic High School, New Iberia, LA.
Smith, Maggie. Catholic High School. 2012. Photographs. Private collection.
Smith, Michael. Personal interview. 10 May 2012.