|Algiers Has Top-Notch School System
by O. K. LeBlanc
Published by LP&L in 1940
Safety Service is grateful to Miss Alice M. Harte, principal of Behrman High
School for her cooperation in preparing the material for the below article.
The colorful history of the public school system in Algiers dates back to the
reconstruction days, more than seven decades ago, when Miss Louise Blount
conducted the first class in a little one-room school where today stands the Fifth
District courthouse on Morgan Street.
During these seventy-five years, this system has grown from a one-room school into a
system embracing eight schools with a combined enrollment of approximately 3,596
Although Miss Blount is accredited with having established the first school in this
community, it remained for the late John McDonogh and later the late Martin Behrman
to lend their support and interest in giving to Algiers one of the finest and most
up-to-date educational systems to be found anywhere in the state.
It was the McDonogh fund that gave Algiers its first public school building, McDonogh
No. 4, at a time when the continuation of the public school system was seriously
threatened owing to the lack of financial support. Later, McDonogh No. 5 was
established as a colored school and continued to serve this group until a few years
later when it was necessary to turn it into a school for the white. This change led to
the construction of McDonogh No. 32, which was to take care of the colored children
turned out of McDonogh No. 5.
As the enrollment of the two schools, No. 4 & no. 5, increased, the erection of another
school building was found necessary. In answer to this need, the Belleville School
was erected in 1896 with Miss Alice M. Harte as its first principal.
Not long after the Belleville school was completed, the residents of the Fifth District
were again faced with the problem of additional educational facilities. Following the
construction of the Adolph C. Meyer school, serving the suburban section beyond the
Southern Pacific Railroad shops, the Lawton school was built to accommodate a
small group of children on the Lower Coast. Then came the Schwarz school built for
a newly developed section near the upper parish line.
By 1921, the New Orleans public schools, of which Algiers is a part, consisted of
primary, grammar, high, normal and vocational schools with primary grades taking
care of children from kindergarten through the fourth grade; the grammar grades, the
fifth through the eight year; the secondary schools, the ninth through the eleventh
year. Courses in commercial training, academic study and home economics were to
be found in the secondary schools.
All work beyond the eighth was done in buildings far from Algiers to be reached only
by crossing the river. This involved loss of time, energy and expenditure.
With the construction of the beautiful and modernistic Martin Behrman school in 1931,
the boys and girls from McDonogh No. 5 and the girls from Belleville, were brought
together. In 1933, when the enrollment of the Behrman school reached 1,600, 600
primary pupils were transferred to the renovated Belleville school building, which had
been unoccupied since the opening of the new Behrman school.
The Martin Behrman school stands today as one of the finest in the city with its
laboratories, library, auditorium and equipment for home economics, industrial arts
and athletics reaching well above the standard requirements. It has a present
enrollment of 250 elementary students and 750 high school boys and girls.
Today the school is accredited by the state and by the Southern Association of
Colleges, with a faculty of 42 workers - 38 full time and 4 part time - offering
commercial, academic, home economic and industrial art courses.
The present public school system in Algiers, in addition to the Behrman school,
includes the Belleville school for primary students; the Adolph Meyer school and
Schwarz school for elementary students; and the McDonogh No. 32 school, Landry
and Rosenwal schools for colored children.
|Louis F. Schwarz School, ca. 1926
History of Algiers Public School System
|Photos of most of the schools mentioned
in this article can be found here:
Algiers Historical Society
The link to this page is:
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|This article was contributed by Donald Costello, President
of the Algiers Historical Society. It's much appreciated!