Renovation project earns honor citation by the MS Chapter of AIA
By Jack Criss
The Bolivar Bullet
A renovation project at Bayou Academy was recently awarded an honor citation by the MS Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) as presented to the architects on the job, Canizaro Cawthon Davis, based in Jackson. The honor citation is “awarded to projects worthy of recognition because of design quality.” Jared Pierce, AIA, Principal at the firm, was lead architect on the work and Roy Collins Construction of Cleveland was the contractor. Bayou Academy will soon receive a certificate recognizing the honor.
“The Bayou Academy Addition and Renovation project is the first phase in the master planning and expansion of our school,” said Bayou Academy Head of School, Curt McCain. “With the additions of new street facades and an entry pavilion, as well as an all-new concrete parking lot, the existing buildings are unified with a totally new identity. The new entrance courtyard provides a clear and inviting point of entry for visitors while separate outdoor patios expand our student’s learning experience for them beyond the classroom,” he said. “It’s all highly functional and looks fantastic–a marked improvement over what we had.”
On the interior, according to McCain, new administrative offices for both the upper and lower schools along with a conference room and other collaborative work spaces and offices provide greater efficiency for the school’s daily operations and offer a welcoming atmosphere for the parents of current and prospective students. “Also, a new state-of-the-art science lab, media center, and the combining of our elementary and high school libraries into one–all renovated– all provide welcome and much-needed updates to the school’s support spaces. It also better serves current study and research models for the students,” he added.
“I had worked before with Canizaro Cawthon Davis when I lived in Flora,” said McCain, “and they built a new sanctuary for my church there. I was the new building chairperson so I was very impressed with the company and with Jared. After they got the job for us here at Bayou Academy, which was in late 2019, we got into the real work around May of 2020, at the height of the pandemic. Of course, we were doing remote learning at the time so the work was being done without disrupting student or campus activity. Work was completed in August of that year,” he said.
“Our school is totally transformed now,” said McCain proudly. “And what’s interesting is that I was once teaching a class here and asked the students the question, ‘If there was one thing you can change at Bayou Academy, what would it be? What would make it better?’ And one of the kids answered, ‘I wish we could upgrade the inside of the school like we have the outside.’ I never even thought, until that moment, that the kids even had things like that on their minds, but, they do. They want their school to look nice, or better. I’m proud to say now that it does.
“I was in school here, in the ninth grade, when this current campus was built in 1989,” summarized McCain, “and to be here now, after the renovation process, is just amazing. The transformation is incredible. And it means so much to me that our students–and faculty–are proud of what has taken place, too.”