Live Oak High School is a public high school located in Watson, Louisiana, United States. Live Oak High School is a part of the Livingston Parish School System, and was founded in 1895 as a community school for the residents of Watson, a largely rural area in Livingston Parish. In 2012, the school moved to its current location off of Louisiana Highway 16. The new location allowed the school to grow to accommodate the increase of students in the area.
Live Oak High School is a public high school and has open enrollment. Despite its open enrollment, the school consistently produces high test scores and National Merit Semifinalists and Finalists. Live Oak was ranked 25 on the 2019 “Louisiana’s Best High Schools” list by the U.S. News & World Report.
Live Oak High School is a member of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association and offers a wide variety of sports and programs. Extracurricular activities are also offered in the form of performing arts, school publications, and clubs.
Live Oak School was founded in 1895 when the Reverend Joel Ott donated a parcel of land for a community school. The citizens of Watson built a one-room schoolhouse that was only 500 square feet. The room was built from wood of cypress trees near the Amite River swamps. The small school boasted one front door and six open windows. The school was only open for June, July, and August so that the students could help their families around the house. Around 1900, the residents of Watson started to recognize the importance of higher education. This resulted in the community building a two-story building that had to be rebuilt shortly thereafter because of tornado damage. Nonetheless, the first graduate of Live Oak High School graduated in 1925.
Livingston Parish Public Schools desegregated following the 1969 case Dunn v. Livingston Parish School Board. The effects of desegregation were larger for Denham Springs High School because Denham Springs was the largest city in the parish. Prior to desegregating, Livingston Parish only had one school for African Americans called West Livingston. As a result, black students were bussed from all over the parish to attend school. A former student later described the bus route as going “‘as far north as Watson all the way to the St. Helena parish line.'” Although a negative response was faced in other parts of the parish, no such response was experienced at Live Oak High School.
As the student population continued to grow, another building was needed. By 1973, the school had multiple buildings, a home economics room, and a gym for the high school students and elementary school students who shared the same facilities.
Live Oak High School suffered minimal impacts when Hurricane Katrina devastated the state in 2005. Following the collapse of many New Orleans area school systems, Live Oak saw a significant surge in the number of students. By May 2007, voters in the Watson district of Livingston Parish passed a half-cent sales tax to build a new high school. The former campus of Live Oak High School has been converted into Live Oak Junior High and also houses a FEMA shelter.
The current high school opened on December 17, 2012, and is located north of the old location on Hwy 16. The school’s current location cost $30 million, and faced weather delays from Hurricane Isaac along with delays resulting from copper theft. Despite the delays, the school’s opening was only pushed back 4 months which allowed for a smooth transition over the semester break. The school’s new campus was also significantly larger than the one at the other school which allows for more students to comfortably attend class. Live Oak High School also played a large role in the return to normalcy following the 2016 floods in Louisiana. Being one of the few high school campuses to not flood in Livingston Parish, Live Oak High School served as a platoon school for Denham Springs High School the fall semester of 2016 which was the most impacted by flooding. At the start of the spring semester, Denham Springs High School was able to return to their original campus despite ongoing renovations and rebuilding efforts.