Istrouma Grads Trying to Save Nawaganti

Istrouma Grads Trying to Save Nawaganti

The majestic and historic Istrouma High School on Winbourne is shuttered and empty. The once bustling campus, the largest school in the state with 1,900 students from the 10th to the 12th grade and nine State Football Championships, is quiet.

It closed in May 2014, because of decisions made by the State Recovery District, Supt. John White, and BESE chairman Chas Roemer, who have so far not responded to proposals by Istrouma alumni to turn the school into a petro-chemical charter high school that would help train youth for the reported 40,000 jobs local industry will need over the next five years. Now Istrouma alumni have focused on saving historic state championship trophies and the statue of Nawaganti before vandals steal or destroy them.

Istrouma High grads led by Central City Councilman Wayne Messina are trying to raise $3,500 to help save the statue of Istrouma’s mascot, the legendary Nawaganti.

The Class of 1964 presented the statue to the school 50 years ago, and it held a place of honor in the lobby at the school’s entrance for all those years.  But the State School Recovery District closed the majestic school in May 2014, and it now sits in a deteriorating condition. Alumni became concerned about the safety of Nawaganti, the school’s countless trophies, and other memorabilia.

Messina, a former coach at Istrouma and principal at Baker who served until recently as Director of Security for East Baton Rouge schools, received permission to remove Nawaganti and a few other items from the school. Five championship trophies are now stored at the EBR school warehouse on N. Ardenwood, and Nawaganti is on permanent display at the entrance to the EBR Food Service

office on North Sherwood. The problem is, Nawaganti’s leather clothing has disintegrated over 50 years and needs to be replaced. In addition, the display case at Istrouma would be costly to

move and is too large for the new space. So

alumni are trying to raise $3,500, with $600 for a new leather costume and the remainder to build a new case. Contributions should be payable to Class of 1964 and sent to Restoration of Nawaganti, 1017 Daventry Dr., Baton Rouge 70808.

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