Community Education

Arden Cahill Celebrates 50 Years

This year, Arden Cahill Academy, located at 3101 Wall Blvd. in Gretna, will celebrate its 50th anniversary. This kindergarten through 8th grade school, which also includes an infant centre, started out as a dream of its founder Elizabeth Arden Cox Cahill and grew into one of the most prestigious and respected schools on the Westbank.

Elizabeth Arden Cox Cahill is a lifelong native New Orleanian and Westbank resident, who has dedicated her entire life to the education of children. She began her career at Laurel-McDonough #1 and Allan School where she taught children with speech disorders. She then taught drama at Fortier High School as well as homebound students with disabilities, students who were deaf and those with cerebral palsy. After briefly relocating to Florida with her husband, teaching speech development and working with the hard of hearing at Florida State University, she returned to Algiers and taught at Behrman High School. After two years, she was asked to fill a job opening for disciplinarian and assistant to the principal at Karr Junior High School. Mrs. Cahill worked at Karr until the birth of her first child and then worked as a volunteer for two years at St. Julian Eymard. It was then that Arden’s husband, Henry L. Cahill, Jr. encouraged her to start her own school.

Arden Cahill Academy was founded in 1968 by Arden and Harry Cahill as a private academy dedicated to the interest of early childhood education. Original faculty included Mrs. Diana Wright, Mrs. Joy Vickery, Mrs. Dolly Stakelum, Mrs. Patricia McMullen and Mrs. Marjorie Snyder. These ladies formed and created the philosophy of the academy. Inspired by the success of the progress of the first group of students, Mrs. Cahill expanded the program and added a grade each year through elementary school. The first 8th grade class graduated in 1977 and the Infant Centre was added in 1981.

As the years went by, the campus itself expanded and buildings and classrooms were added yearly to accommodate the growing number of students. Buildings were designed to house preschool, kindergarten, and elementary classes in separate areas with additional areas for library, music, art, and drama. Two swimming pools and an outdoor basketball court were also added. In 1985, construction began on the site where Arden Cahill Academy sits today. Stables and an equestrian arena were erected on the rear of the property; bayou Stables was used for summer camp and extracurricular horseback riding lessons. In 1986, construction began on the buildings that would complement the academy’s curriculum of academic excellence and cultural enrichment. The buildings on the Wall Blvd. campus include classrooms, a library, dining room, art studio, music room, 300 seat little theater, gymnasium, and a junior Olympic swimming pool. The campus itself is landscaped with trees and plants that are indigenous to the Louisiana area. In September of 1988, the first class entered the Wall Blvd. campus and the first graduation was held on May 19, 1989. New buildings were added throughout the years including more classrooms, a nursery and preschool, a science lab, a computer lab and academic offices.

Today, Mary Kevin Cahill is the principal of Arden Cahill Academy, a school that focuses heavily on cultural arts. The school boasts an infant centre where infants and toddlers are cared for by professional child care providers. Here they reach age-related milestones, from rolling over and crawling to numbers and colors. Spanish is taught in the early years of a student’s education and French is taught in the later years, giving children a rounded 2nd and 3rd language education. Students also take part in drama activities from the time they are in pre-school. They participate in putting together a play that is to be performed in front of the school, thus helping them grow comfortable with speaking in front of large groups at an early age. Arden Cahill’s sports programs are “no cut”, which means that any student can participate in any sport that he or she likes, without the fear of being cut for not excelling at it. Other activities also include chess, drama, golf, computers and more. Arden Cahill Academy is a year-round campus that boasts a yearly summer camp that is open to students and non-students. Activities at the summer camp include horseback riding, swimming, arts and crafts, archery, riflery, and snack making. Arden Cahill Academy is a school that is teaching its students about current technology; computer skills are taught and text books in the form of “e-books” are available on Chrome books for 6th to 8th grade students.

To celebrate the 50th year of Arden Cahill Academy, special activities such as a 60’s themed Spirit Day and a time capsule are planned. There is also a plan to plant 50 trees on the already lush and beautiful campus, in honor of 50 years. In the years to come, Arden Cahill hopes to expand once again, and add high school education to their curriculum.

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About the author

Marielle Songy

Marielle Songy was born and raised on the Westbank and currently resides in Gretna. She is a graduate of Archbishop Blenk High School and UNO. A true Louisiana girl, Marielle enjoys creole food, jazz music and the occasional swamp tour.

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