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Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- St. Helena Central Elementary School principal Reginald Douglas, during Supriya Jindal's visit to the school, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, to give a demonstration of the school's two new interactive whiteboards and one ActivTable, which the Supriya Jindal Foundation for Louisiana's Children and charter partner Dow Chemical Company helped purchase. MAGS OUT / INTERNET OUT/ONLINE OUT/NO SALES/TV OUT/FOREIGN OUT/ LOUISIANA BUSINESS INC./GREATER BATON ROUGE BUSINESS REPORT/225/10/12/IN REGISTER/LBI CUSTOM PUBLICATIONS OUT/

With less than four months until it reopens, Istrouma High School in Baton Rouge finally has a principal.

Reginald Douglas, principal of St. Helena College and Career Academy, a 7-12 school in Greensburg, was selected for the high-profile job. It's a homecoming of sorts for Douglas, who spent several years as a teacher at Istrouma before heading to St. Helena Parish.

Douglas said he’s excited by the opportunity to come back to where he got his  start in education in 1999 as a social studies teacher.

“It’s a big deal for me,” Douglas said. “Almost like coming back home.”

East Baton Rouge schools Superintendent Warren Drake announced Douglas’ hiring at Thursday’s School Board meeting. Douglas underwent three rounds of interviews that started with six candidates and ended with two candidates interviewed personally by Drake.

Douglas’s first day was Monday, though he’s working only on a part-time basis until May 30, so he can finish up the school year in St. Helena.

Douglas said he's sorting through job applications. Besides hiring faculty, Douglas said, he’s planning to hold a series of events to orient new students to the school, which opens Aug. 10.

“The first day of school we want to be awesome day, and that’s going to take a lot of work over the summer to make that happen,” Douglas said.

Istrouma will start with ninth and 10th grades. Those students will be joined by middle school students who are currently part of the magnet program at Brookstown Middle School.

Istrouma High was shuttered in May 2014, sparking protests. It’s undergoing a $24.1 million renovation, though supporters are still trying to raise millions more to refurbish the school auditorium and an annex building.

In February 2013, Douglas was promoted to become principal of St. Helena Parish's high school. His previous job was as principal of the parish’s elementary school. In 2014, the high school, now called the St. Helena College and Career Academy, added seventh grade.

The St. Helena academy has 250 more students than when Douglas started. The school’s letter grade has improved as well, from an F to a D and the school performance score has grown almost 14 points.

Douglas was one of six candidates who sat down for public interviews on March 15 with a 12-member Istrouma High Advisory Council.

“I know that the community of Istrouma has a lot of pride and that’s why we are here today,” Douglas told the council. “Something was taken from the community of Istrouma and they fought and got it back.”

Douglas is a 1997 graduate of Southern University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology. He later earned a master’s degree in administration and supervision from the University of Phoenix.

Follow Charles Lussier on Twitter, @Charles_Lussier