On May 1, 1965, Calcasieu Parish School Board, considering needs for improvements to existing plants and for purchase of lands for a future high school, held a bond election in School District 22. Proceeds from the sale of the bonds were used to purchase a forty seven (46.76) acre tract of land in January of 1966. Following the sale of the bonds and the puchase of the land, Judge Alfred M. Barbe and Mr. James Rouyer, trustees of the Drew Estate, made it known that the Estate was prepared to make a generous contribution toward the construction of a vocational or manual training school in Ward 3.
By March of 1966, Mr. John Gabriel had begun to work on a contingency basis, drawing plans for the proposed facility. Unsuccessful efforts to secure federal matching funds continued throughout the remaining months of 1966 and most of 1967.
Plans were accelerated after merger of the two local school systems in July of 1967. By December fo 1967 Mr. Elwood Reames and Mr. Paul Ritter were named architects for the school and Mr. Gabriel was architect for the vocational facility of what had been a proposed comprehensive high school.
A successful $3,400,000 bond election in late May of 1968 brought the school within the realm of probability. Bids received on August 14, 1969, were rejected, they exceeded the funds available. Plans were revised to eliminate the auditorium and other desirable features. Following a second letting on October 4, 1969 the contract in the amount of $3, 245, 417 was awarded to Bartley, Inc. Construction of the building commenced in December of 1969.
Under the terms of the Drew Estate's agreement to donate funds for a vocational department, the school was named Alfred M. Barbe High School. Mr. John Nicosia was named principal of the school in March, 1971. A faculty of sixty was named and 1,000 students were assigned to the school.
First classes were held on September 1, 1971. Doors opened with construction essentially complete, but final completion details dragged on until early December. An eager and excited student body and faculty were undaunted by construction noises and equipment; thus learning began.
The first graduation was held in May of 1973, The class numbered 260. The school colors of blue and white were chosen, and the Buccaneer was selected as the mascot. The school now has an enrollment of over 1700 students in grades nine through twelve and a faculty and staff of over 100.
The school population consists of ten percent rural and ninety percent urban students. Located in a residential area, Barbe enjoys the benefits of both country air and city conveniences.
The school, modeled after a junior college, consists of twelve permanent buildings that were originally constructed with the open classroom concept in mind. In 1980 Barbe added a science and art building as well as a new gym. Since then two new buildings has been added, and the entire school has been completely renovated. In the near future, a new Science and Business building will be added along with a new stadium. The library/media building forms the center of the complex and reflects the importance of learning as the center of the school's philosophy.
Since the beginning Barbe has strived to live up to its philosophy "to instill in each young person a sense of worth, helping him grow intellectually, physically, aesthetically, emotionally, and morally." Many faces of the school work together to achieve this goal. The phasing concept allows each student to work at his/her own level of academic achievement.
Students, parents, and counselors work together to determine the most appropriate level for each student in the phased classes. Phases range from basic skills and remedial help to advanced and gifted classes. There is also a selection of trades and industries courses from which to choose.