Our St. Bernard Roots
On October 14, 1986, Archbishop Philip M. Hannan appeared before the St. Bernard Parish Police Jury to announce the first Roman Catholic high school in St. Bernard Civil Parish. This announcement fulfilled the dreams of parents seeking Catholic secondary education for their children. In acknowledgement and appreciation of the Archbishop’s numerous accomplishments, the people of St. Bernard asked that the high school be named in his honor.
Archbishop Hannan High School first opened its doors in September, 1987. For the first three weeks, classes were held on the grounds of Our Lady of Prompt Succor Parish School, under the direction of founding principal John Serio. On September 24, 1987, a handful of students and seven faculty moved to the school’s Meraux campus.
With each passing year, enrollment grew. By the time the first graduating class crossed the stage on May 24, 1991, Archbishop Hannan High School had blossomed into a thriving learning community. Sports fields, a swimming pool, and finally a state-of-the-art Fine Arts Center were added to the original footprint in subsequent years, enriching the Hannan experience. Enrollment peaked at 550 when the 2005-06 school year began.
That school year came to an abrupt halt on August 29, 2005, when Hurricane Katrina came ashore, devastating St. Bernard Parish. Archbishop Hannan High School was not spared: high winds smashed windows and snapped light poles on the athletic fields. The entire first floor was submerged in the post-storm flood. Because of the widespread destruction of both the school and the civil parish, Archbishop Hannan High School would not reopen in St. Bernard.
Rising From the Ashes
Following the hurricane, many residents of St. Bernard relocated to the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain. As a result, the Archdiocese of New Orleans elected to restore Archbishop Hannan High School in their midst. The school celebrated its 19th anniversary by reopening for the 2006-07 school year on the on the grounds of St. Joseph Abbey, its temporary new home. At the end of that school year, after 20 years as principal, John Serio retired. John Cavell, a school administrator from Baton Rouge, became the school’s second principal.
On July 31, 2007, Archbishop Alfred Hughes broke ground on the site for the new campus in West St. Tammany Parish at the intersection of Louisiana Highway 1077 and 1085. The new school, Archbishop Hughes remarked that day, would represent “people turning tragedy into triumph and victimhood into victory.” Just 15 months later, on November 3, 2008, the new campus welcomed faculty and students.
A New Chapter
In March 2010 Archbishop Gregory Aymond appointed Fr. Charles Latour O.P. the school’s third principal. After meeting with parents and students from March - May, Fr. Charles took office on June 1, 2010. With the school's physical plant rebuilt, Fr. Charles focused on building a school infrastructure that challenged every student to achieve his or her personal best in every aspect of their life. With an emphasis on academic excellence and increasing rigor throughout the curriculum, he and Academic Dean Dr. Donalyn Hassenboehler created a school community that students could call home. Enrollment for the 2011-12 school year increased by a record-breaking 30%.
After another huge enrollment increase the next year, the school embarked on a new chapter – completing the final phase of construction to accommodate up to 600 students. A new library and media building, a 10-classroom school building, TV and video production studio, creative arts center, and football stadium soon enlarged the campus.
On October 27, 2012 Archbishop Hannan hosted its first home football game since Hurricane Katrina. Before more than 1,300 alumni, students and parents, the Hannan Hawks beat the Pine Panthers 48 - 0.
Today, the school continues to provide students with the best Catholic, college preparatory education on the Northshore.