History of the College

River Parishes Community College was born out of a Senate Concurrent Resolution approved by the 1997 Regular Louisiana Legislative Session. It was the brainchild of State Senator Louis J. Lambert, a native of Sorrento, who along with his colleagues in the legislature, recognized that Louisiana was one of the most populous states in the country without a community college system to serve its citizens. Even though two community colleges had existed in the state for decades, and another was established in 1992, they were not placed within a comprehensive system of their own. In the fall of 1998, Louisiana voters approved a constitutional amendment establishing the Louisiana Community and Technical College System and its Board of Supervisors. River Parishes joined these six other community colleges in the state under the new system: Baton Rouge Community College, Bossier Parish Community College, Delgado Community College, Nunez Community College, Louisiana Delta Community College and South Louisiana Community College.

The College is located in the small Ascension Parish town of Sorrento in what is known as the River Parishes region of the state because of the proximity of the parishes to the Mississippi River. RPCC's recently-expanded service area includes Ascension, Assumption, St. James, St. John, St. Charles, Tangipahoa, and Washington Parishes. The designation also includes portions of Iberville and Livingston Parishes.

RPCC also sits at the crossroads of Plantation Country. The parishes along the lower Mississippi River have a rich heritage and a historic past that makes them unique within the state. Nestled in various corridors are communities steeped in pre-Civil War history as palatial plantation homes built nearly 200 years ago still stand firmly on their original sites. The Florida Parishes also are proud of a rich history of their own.

The history of the Acadians in Louisiana begins down the river as the first Acadian settlers set ashore in St. James Parish. The cultural museum in Lutcher outlines the history of the logging industry in the area that has long since faded away. It also documents the growth and expansion of the area from small logging encampments and sugar cane farms, to thriving city-towns.

RPCC also lies in that unique corridor where the majority of the state�s manufacturing facilities - anything from petro-chemicals to raincoats - are located. Part of RPCC�s mission is to serve those industries, through specialized training programs for potential employees, which would attract and help retain those industries in the area.

River Parishes Community College�s staff is dedicated to its mission of helping navigate your way toward new horizons!

Facts about the Sorrento area

Sorrento, Louisiana is a small town located in southern Ascension Parish. The first three settlers of Sorrento were Desire LeBlanc, Sr., Jerome Lee, Sr., and Jules Trabeau, who each homesteaded 160 acres of land near Bayou Conway in the late 1860's. They came in search of new farming land, new fishing and hunting grounds. At this time, Sorrento was known as Conway.

The first railroad right-of-way was established in 1902. Then in 1908, the Louisiana Railroad and Navigation Company was established. It was built by a German immigrant named William Edenborn, and was called Railroad and Navigation. The railroad ran in conjunction with the Dutch Steamship Line and New Orleans was the terminal for the joint venture.

One year later, in 1909, Edenborn named the town Sorrento. It is claimed that he took his young bride to Sorrento, Italy for their honeymoon and that is where he got the name. The first sawmill was established in Sorrento in 1909, marketing mostly cypress and tupelo gum. It closed in 1921.

There was an oil find at McElroy in 1928. Jack Lloyd published Sorrento�s first and only newspaper, the "Progressive", during this time period.

Sorrento was incorporated as a village in 1956, and on August 20, 1962, was reclassified as a town. It has a current population of approximately 1500.

Sorrento is home to the Cajun Village, located at the corner of Highways 22 and 70. It is made up of historic Acadian homes that have been restored to house unique specialty shops where visitors can get a taste of Cajun culture, foods, as well as arts and crafts and antiques. Cajun dance lessons and quilt making are also offered at the Village. The Ascension Parish Tourist Center is located there as well.

There is no lack of fine events in the small, rural community. It plays host to several annual festivals and cultural events. They include: the Flying Eagle Pow Wow, a celebration of the Native American culture through dance, music, arts, crafts, and demonstrations; the Boucherie Festival, with activities that include the "Cracklin Cooking World Champion" competition, dancing, a pageant, a parade, carnival rides, and other special events.