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‘We are still here’

Lincoln Prep cuts ribbon on new campus
Tuesday, May 23, 2023
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Leader photos by Caleb Daniel
Left to right, Lewis Temple CME Church Pastor Earl Griffin, Sr., Lincoln Preparatory School Executive Director Gordan Ford, state Treasurer John Schroder and Grambling State University President Richard Gallot, Jr. were among those who gathered to cut the ribbon on Lincoln Prep’s new campus.

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State Rep. Patrick Jefferson gives remarks during Lincoln Prep’s ribbon cutting ceremony.

Through many name changes, structural shifts and campus relocations, the staple of Grambling education now known as Lincoln Preparatory School has officially found its home.

Excitement was high Monday as the charter school held a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony for its brand new, $30 million campus on West Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in Grambling.

When students moved into the building in March, it ended more than two and a half years of attending school at temporary facilities.

“Despite facing the struggles of race, finances, politics and litigation, we are still here,” Lincoln Prep Executive Director Gordan Ford said during his opening remarks Monday. “Today we are excited to welcome you all to our new home.”

Having long been a division of Grambling State University, a decades-long desegregation lawsuit over public education in Lincoln Parish forced the majority-Black Grambling Laboratory Schools to separate from the university in 2016, reforming as Lincoln Preparatory.

Then a court order in that same suit required the school to move off GSU’s campus entrely in the summer of 2020. The school constructed temporary facilities in and around the former Fred’s grocery store on Highway 80.

From those humble conditions, Lincoln Prep now inhabits a campus featuring an 85,000-square- foot classroom building with a library; science, computer and robotics labs; a school- based health clinic; a 930-seat gymnasium with lockers rooms, workout and training spaces and a FEMA-certified storm shelter.

“You are the envy not only of your neighbors, but of the entire state,” state Rep. Patrick Jefferson, who represents the Grambling area, said during the ceremony.

The school financed the new facility by having $30 million in revenue bonds issued, which it will pay back over 40 years using a portion of its Minimum Foundation Program funding from the state government.

The state Bond Commission had to approve this financing, and its chairman, state Treasurer John Schroder, was on hand to give the keynote address at Monday’s ceremony.

He called the new campus “some kind of impressive,” emphasized his support for charter schools and called attention to ongoing initiatives to better education in Louisiana, such as an effort to require financial literacy be taught in schools.

“If Louisiana is ever going to get off the mat, it’s going to be through public education — the things we can do in our rural communities,” he said.

Dignitaries from the city of Grambling and GSU also celebrated the school and its new facilities.

“This school represents more than just bricks and mortar,” GSU President Richard Gallot, Jr. said. “It represents a beacon of knowledge, a sanctuary for learnign, and a nurturing environment where our students can thrive.”

The ribbon cutting marked the end of Phase 1 of campus construction. The classroom building and gymnasium are complete. Phase 2 has already begun as the football field is now also completed, with grandstands, press box and many support facilities still to come.

Lincoln Prep sports teams haven’t been able to practice and play games in their own facilities since the 2020 relocation.

When asked how officially recognizing a new home for the school felt, Ford said words couldn’t describe it.

“God has been so good to us,” he said. “The kids and the Grambling community just deserve something like this. I’m just elated that God let me be a part of it.”