A Rich History

Excellence Academy is located on a site that is rich with local history.

When the Civil War ended in Ouachita Parish in 1865 there were about 850 slaves in the area. Once freed at the end of the war, most of them pooled their nickels and dimes to build a school to teach themselves to read and write.

Records show that 835 slaves, working with the Freedman’s Bureau, pooled their money to buy a plot of land on the corner of 8th and Washington Street. Their plan was to build a school on the site. They sent a young man off to school to learn to read and write himself and then return to teach them.

The school they built was called the “Wisner School.” Hundreds of former slaves were taught to read on the site. After the turn of the century, most of the old slaves were dead. The city built a new school for Negroes two blocks east of the Wisner School and named it Monroe Colored High. The “Wisner School” had served its purpose.

With all of its original builders deceased the site was sold in a sheriff’s sale and became known later as Dixie Bedding and Furniture. In the 60 years that followed, many forgot about the old “slave” school; the site was best known as the Dixie Bedding and Furniture Building.

In 2011  the site was purchased by the New Tabernacle Baptist Church. In December of 2012 the city school board authorized a charter school to be operated on the site. However, by July of 2013, no construction had begun on the site with a September 3rd opening.

With only 52 days to complete the renovation, the sponsors fought against the clock to make its deadline. However, at 2:30 a.m. in the morning of the 52nd day, the building was complete. On the first day of school students waited in a nearby building while inspectors checked the building for occupancy. It was cleared that day and the school began.

For many, the school’s history connects scholars with a rich local heritage that challenges them to reach to the future, embracing all races, cultures, and ethnicities. The faculty and scholar recognized that they are standing on the shoulders of many who have gone before them as they reach for the stars.