NBR Celebrates as Officials Cut Ribbon, Marking Return of Istrouma High School

On Tuesday, Istrouma principal Reginald Douglas, with the help of Supt. Warren Drake, members of the East Baton Rouge Parish school board, and other officials, cut the ribbon marking the re-opening of Istrouma High School.
More than 100 Istrouma alumni from the 1940’s to the 2000’s were on hand to cheer and applaud.
In 2010, the State of Louisiana declared Istrouma a failing school and took it over. But three years later, the state admitted that it too had been unable to make the school successful.  Instead of turning Istrouma back over to the EBR school system, the state announced that the school would be permanently closed.
At the time, Istrouma alumni were in shock and disbelief. They couldn’t believe that their once-great alma mater could be closed. So they began working to reverse the state’s decision — something that had never before been done. No school taken over by the state had ever been returned to a local school system.
But the appointment of a new superintendent — Warren Drake — changed that. Drake believed Istrouma could not only succeed but be great again. As the former superintendent for 12 years of the state’s No. 1 school system, he had credibility with state education officials, and they decided to give the school back to EBR.
Drake and the school board approved a $24 million renovation project, hired an all-new set of administrators and faculty, and opened the doors to all 9th and 10th graders in zip code 70805.
So far, everyone agrees the experiment is working.  More than 400 students have enrolled.  The atmosphere at the school is exemplary, and everyone who visits comes away dazzled.
Three of the older alumni attending Tuesday’s ceremonies gathered in the cafeteria afterwards — former All-State running back Jim Dousay of Istrouma’s 1961 and 1962 state championship teams, former Istrouma and Baton Rouge High head coach Leon McGraw, and Istrouma Journal editor Woody Jenkins, who represented North Baton Rouge in the Louisiana House for 28 years.
Sitting in the cafeteria, coach McGraw said it best, “Feels like home!”

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