Jena High School

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Jena High School
Rsz schoolpicture.gif
Jena, Louisiana, United States
Type High School/Secondary Education/
Established 1920s
Head teacher Glen Joiner, Principal
Number of students 515
Color(s) Gold, Black, White
Mascot Giants
Another view of Jena High School

Jena High School is a secondary school located in Jena, Louisiana, United States. The school, serving grades 9 through 12, is a part of the La Salle Parish School Board. As of 2006-2007, the school enrollment was 538 students.

The school serves the town of Jena and the unincorporated communities of Belah, Nebo, and Rhinehart.

Feeder patterns[edit]

The following schools feed into Jena High School:

  • Fellowship Elementary School (grades PreK–8)
  • Jena Junior High School (grades 6–8)
    • Goodpine Middle School (grades 3–5)
      • Jena Elementary School (grades PreK–2)
  • Nebo Elementary School (grades PreK–8)

Racial tension[edit]

Photograph of a tree outside Jena High School, not the actual tree which was cut down
Main article: Jena Six

Racial tensions surfaced in Jena on September 1, 2006, when hangman's nooses were discovered in a tree in the high school campus after a black student tried to sit with white students at lunch. The principal recommended that the noose-hangers should be expelled. The school board overruled him, and the three white student perpetrators were isolated in an alternative program.[1] and then received two weeks of in-school suspension.[1] On November 30, 2006 an arson fire destroyed the main academic building at the school. On December 4, 2006 a fight broke out on campus, after which six African-American students, later dubbed the Jena 6,[2] were arrested and charged with attempted second-degree murder. Law enforcement officers told the Alexandria Daily Town Talk that they had found no links among the noose incident, the arson fire, and subsequent fights.

The six accused of attempted second-degree murder are black and attacked a white student after a week of intimidation between the two groups, including the one who was assaulted.[3] Intimidation cited includes an off-campus incident in which a white teenager responded to alleged threats by brandishing a gun. Black teenagers allegedly wrestled away the gun and were then held in custody and charged with theft because they refused to return the gun to its owner. No charges were made against the white teenager for brandishing the firearm.[4]

On June 26, 2007 the first day of trial for Mychal Bell, one of the defendants, the prosecutor agreed to reduce the charges for Bell to aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated second-degree battery.[5] Bell was found guilty by the jury, and will face the possibility of up to 22 years in prison when he is sentenced.[4] 150 were summoned, some of which were black citizens, but only 50, none of whom were black, reported for duty.[6] The sentencing was originally scheduled for July 30, but was delayed until September 20, 2007.[7] However, on September 14, 2007, Bell's battery conviction was overturned, as Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal in Lake Charles ruled that Bell should not have been tried as an adult. The other five students were to have been tried at a later date.

The town has gained international notoriety as an example of the alleged "new 'stealth' racism" that allegedly lives on in America[8] with national attention drawn to the events by a National Public Radio prime time story on July 30, 2007.[9]

John Mellencamp also released a song called "Jena" in August 2007, which brought a great deal of attention to the small high school.


  1. ^ Tom Mangold (2007-05-24). "'Stealth racism' stalks deep South". BBC News. 
  2. ^ Howard Witt. "Charge reduced in 'Jena 6' case". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2007-07-26. 
  3. ^ Jordan Flaherty. "There was White Kids that Hung Up a Noose, But It was Black Kids in the Fight". Retrieved 2007-05-20. 
  4. ^ a b Bill Quigley. "Injustice in Jena". Retrieved 2007-06-11. 
  5. ^ Foster, Mary (2007-06-27). "Charges Reduced for Student in La. Fight". London: Guardian Limited. 
  6. ^ "Jena teen's future still up in the air". 2007-09-18. Retrieved 2007-09-19. 
  7. ^ "Jena 6: Mychal Bell's Sentencing Delayed". 2007-07-29. Retrieved 2007-08-04. 
  8. ^ Mangold, Tom (2007-05-20). "Racism goes on trial again in America's Deep South". The Observer (London). Retrieved 2007-05-20. 
  9. ^ Goodwyn, Wade (2007-07-30). "Beating Charges Split La. Town Along Racial Lines". NPR. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 31°41′28″N 92°07′41″W / 31.691°N 92.128°W / 31.691; -92.128