It was February 7, 1979, and the Caddo Parish School Board approved the plan for the creation of a parish-wide magnet school whose curriculum would revolve around the academics and the arts. The program would be offered to eligible students on a first-come, first-served basis. On November 20th of that year, the board appointed Mrs. Ascension Smith as principal of this new high school. A native of Spain, Mrs. Smith brought a unique fusion of the European love of culture and learning and the American zeal for democracy and competition to the position.
Armed with brochures, a slide presentation, enthusiasm, and an inexhaustible supply of energy, Ascension Smith recruited possible students from all parish public, private, and parochial middle and high schools. She went door to door in the neighborhood, introducing herself, describing the school, and establishing a rapport with the community.
On a cold February 1980 morning, before dawn, people began lining up in front of the Caddo Parish School Board offices to submit application to this new high school. Of the 900 applications, only 600 ninth and tenth grade students were accepted. Mrs. Smith greeted each person in line on that day.
Mrs. Smith selected her 32-member teaching staff from over 400 applications. Along with these were seven part-time professionals from the community to teach certain courses such as gymnastics, ballet, drama, and architecture. The second principal, Mary Rounds, was a member of that original faculty.
Caddo Parish Magnet High School opened in August 1980 with those 600 ninth and tenth graders. With each succeeding year, a new freshman class was added so that within two years Caddo Magnet High became a full, four-year program.
The school has maintained a four-year program since that time. The school has been fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools since 1983, and enrollment fluctuates between 1000 – 1250 students. All associated with the school, past and present, continue to uphold the school motto, “In our hands we hold today; in our minds we hold tomorrow.”