Helix Community Schools announces acquisition of IDEA University Prep’s Plank Road campus facilities

BATON ROUGE, La. (June 24, 2024) – Helix Community Schools is excited to announce the acquisition of IDEA University Prep’s (UP) Plank Road campus facilities.  Located at 7701 Plank Road, the campus will become part of Helix Aviation Academy which is the only public school in the state located on an airport (Baton Rouge Metro Airport) and features a curriculum focused on careers in aviation, space exploration, and cyber technology.  

Additionally, Helix Aviation will be expanding this fall to launch its new high school and elementary school division.  Helix Aviation will now offer kindergarten and first grade and sixth through ninth grade. It will open in August just in time for the start of the school year.

Helix will continue to utilize its airport campus to launch its much-anticipated high school flight program. This program will allow students from Helix Mentorship STEAM Academy and Helix Aviation to engage in ground school classes and actual flight training led by its new certified flight instructor, Mr. Ezzie Smith. The airport campus will remain a critical part of Helix’s unique educational offerings, linking classroom learning with real-world aviation experience.

“We are committed to providing an innovative educational experience for all students to help prepare them for success in and out of the classroom and this is a great opportunity to serve even more families in the Baton Rouge community,” said Preston Castille, president and CEO of Helix Community Schools. “We already have a strong presence in North Baton Rouge so this will allow us to continue to make a positive impact on our youth, our families and our community as a whole.”

“We’re excited,” said Charita Sellers, Helix Aviation’s founding principal and executive director. “The new location gives us an enhanced learning environment where we can grow and continue to prepare our students for college as well as a wide range of careers in aviation. We’re looking forward to welcoming our students to their new home.”   

“We are grateful for the opportunity for another educational entity to repurpose the facilities and pleased this beautiful property will remain an asset to the community,” said Jeff Cottrill, CEO and superintendent of IDEA Public Schools. “IDEA remains steadfast in its commitment to serving the families of Baton Rouge as we welcome former IDEA UP families to both IDEA Bridge and IDEA Innovation this August.”

The new campus features a state-of-the-art, two-story building complete with a gymnasium and cafeteria along with a soccer field and playground. 

Helix Mentorship also acquired Franciscan High School’s (Cristo Rey) facilities, students and faculty last summer.  As part of the acquisition, Helix Mentorship added Franciscan’s Corporate Work Study Program to its curriculum. Helix Mentorship is located in downtown Baton Rouge. 

Enrollment is currently underway. To enroll or to get more information, please contact solarian.sept@helixcommunityschools.org or call 225-409-3000You can also go to helixaviationacademy.org.


Helix Aviation Academy is part of Helix Community Schools, a homegrown charter school network headquartered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana which includes Helix Mentorship STEAM Academy and Helix Legal Academy.  Helix is set to open Helix Artificial Intelligence and Medical Academy in Opelousas, Louisiana in August 2025 and Helix Energy and Agriculture Academy in August 2026.   At Helix, we are committed to exposing students to innovative academic choices in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM). We also provide college and career pathways for our students in aviation, legal, and STEAM professions. For more information, go to helixcommunityschools.org.