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Artcrete, a north Louisiana company that manufactures Faux Brick Stenciled Concrete for patios, driveways, footpaths, entertaining areas, malls and other applications, helped several thousand south Louisiana students displaced by Hurricane Katrina, return to their home schools this year in new, stronger classrooms. Their new classrooms, built by Fibrebond Corp in Minden, Louisiana, are made of precast concrete using Artcrete products and processes that provide brick-like beauty to the exterior.

A total of 168 precast classrooms were delivered in time for the new school year to five south Louisiana schools. The new classrooms measure 24 by 32 feet and are able to withstand a Category 5 hurricane. Erected in a third of the time of traditional construction, they can be expected to last 50 to 75 years. No onsite construction was required. Relatively maintenance free, the precast classrooms are fire-resistant and aesthetically pleasing, closely resembling traditional brick school rooms.

Schools in Plaquemine and Jefferson Parishes that were destroyed by the 2005 hurricanes were able to reopen using the new classrooms. The students had been forced to double up at other area schools after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita destroyed their schools. "We had to find something real quick and real good," Martin Marino, Jefferson Parish School Board president, said Friday. "We would have had to postpone school or put in portable buildings over time, and that's not done as quickly."

The 768-square-foot classrooms, factory-outfitted with carpeting, lighting, air conditioning, plumbing and other components are made of steel-reinforced concrete; exterior walls are eight inches thick. Each classroom is built in two pieces, each piece weighing 65,000 pounds. The Artcrete exteriors provide a cost-effective exterior alternative to brick, tile or stone. After emergency needs have subsided, they can be easily relocated.

With the Artcrete finishes, classrooms can be designed to match the existing architecture of a school. A variety of exterior finishes are available to blend the old with the new.

Artcrete spokesperson, Frank Piccolo said the north Louisiana company is pleased to have played a part in helping the students of south Louisiana get back to normal after the devastating hurricanes and happy to provide a school the students can be proud of.

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