Supporters of Istrouma High gathered Tuesday at 3730 Winbourne Ave. to celebrate the reopening of the historic north Baton Rouge school and cut the ribbon even as renovations continue on the 66-year-old facility.

“There are a lot of people who love and care about this school,” Principal Reginald Douglas said. “It matters to a lot of people."

Standing in the school courtyard with Douglas were alumni spanning decades, from the days when the school was all white to more recent times when it has been predominantly black.

Istrouma High reopened Aug. 9, three years after the state closed the school in 2014. It has 400 students, more than anticipated for year one. East Baton Rouge Parish Superintendent Warren Drake predicted the school, which has only ninth and 10th grades now, will grow to more than 1,200 students once other grades are added.

“This is going to be sort of the center of the community up here,” Drake said.

The north Baton Rouge institution opened in 1917 in a different location. Alumni plan to hold a multiday centennial celebration for the school Oct. 11-15.

Since November, Ruston-based Lincoln Builders has been leading the $24.1 million renovation, work that will continue through December as ground-floor classrooms are renovated to handle middle schoolers. Still being worked on is the football stadium. School officials hope to repair the auditorium and annex building and to add an alumni center in the future.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” Jackie Mims told the crowd Tuesday. “Maybe in a couple of months, I’ll stop smiling, but for now, this smile is just stuck.”

Mims sent her children to the school, represented the Istrouma area for years on the School Board and helped lead the fight to get the school back from the state.

Follow Charles Lussier on Twitter, @Charles_Lussier