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History of Jesse Owens Elementary

The History of Jesse Owens Elementary
Gueydan, Louisiana  

The school, presently known as Jesse Owens Elementary, originated in the Church of God in Christ building in the late 1800s. After having school in this church for several years, Jesse Owens, along with other  African American leaders of the community, worked to secure land and a building for a school in the early 1900s.

At this time, the elementary school for African Americans was a two-room wooden building located south of the present site. Around 1940, a third classroom and a cafeteria were added due to an increase in population. Three teachers taught grades one through eight. This new school was named in honor of Jesse Owens because of his leadership in the establishment of a school for Black children in Gueydan. 

This section is part of the present structure and is occupied by grade one, the parenting room, and music room.

The new school continued to house  African American students in grades one through eight until integration in 1967. At that time approximately fifty  African American students were integrated into the Gueydan High School. During the 1968-69 school session, the building was occupied by the Headstart Program. In the fall of 1969, the building housed Headstart, Follow-Through, first and second grades. When the Follow-Through Program came to an end in the spring of 1970, the two first and second grades occupied the four-room brick structure, and the Headstart Program moved to a different location. This system continued as such until October 1973 when a fire destroyed the elementary section of the Gueydan High School, which housed grades three through six. From 1973 to 1975, a platoon system was put into effect whereby the junior high and high school section of Gueydan High School were used as classroom space by grades three through twelve. Classes were conducted in the morning for grades seven through twelve, while students in grades one through six attended afternoon classes. Jesse Owens continued to house grades one and two during the first year of the platoon system. During the 1974-75 school session, when kindergarten first began, the two rooms previously occupied by the second grade were transferred back to Gueydan High School for the remainder of the platoon system.

After tolerating the platoon system for nearly two years, students in grades kindergarten through sixth grade occupied the present new brick building for the first time during the 1975-76 school session. Fifteen classrooms and a library were added on to the previous four-room structure.

Although the new elementary building was constructed in 1975, it remained a part of Gueydan High School until the fall of 1976, when Jesse Owens became a separate entity. Ned Robinson served as principal from the fall of 1976, until his retirement in the spring of 1989. Ned Richardson was appointed to the position.

The sixth grade was transferred to Gueydan High School in 1990. In 1992, a Pre-K class was added. The 1993 school year saw the addition of a self-contained special education class. A Non-Cat Pre-k was available for the 1996-97  and 1997-98  school years. The 1996-97 school year saw the school wired for Internet access in all of the classrooms and the library.  In 1998 a multipurpose building was added, providing a music room and auditorium.  The latter provides space for indoor Physical Education on inclement days.

Ned Richardson retired in June of 1999.  Jonathan Williams was appointed to replace him.  The 1999-2000 school year began with the 2 fifth grade classes merged into one and the Self-Contained Special Education teacher also serving the resource students. In the 2008-2009 school year we once again had two sections of fifth grade. The 2010-2011 school year began with only one section of Kindergarten.

Jonathan Williams died in October of 2009 and Anita Freeland Dupuis, a former teacher at Jesse Owens, was appointed to replace him.