Letter: ‘Tender love we owe to thee’

I was saddened to read in The Advocate about the official demise of Istrouma High School. I graduated from Istrouma in 1956 and never forgot what a wonderful place it was. While most people remember Istrouma for its great football teams, we who studied there recall how high the academic standards were. I especially remember the chemistry course taught by Mr. Chambers. We called him Iron Mike because his course was so tough. It was well-taught, but with high expectation of the students. On entering LSU, I tested out of beginning English, college algebra and freshman chemistry. I was afraid to skip these courses, so I took them. I learned that the placement tests were accurate and that Istrouma had prepared me well. I majored in chemistry and eventually earned a master’s and doctorate in physical chemistry. I am now retired after 43 years as a chemistry professor. I have always felt indebted to Mr. Chambers and to Istrouma High School for providing me with such a terrific start to my higher education. Whenever I visited Baton Rouge through the years, I would often drive by IHS and note how decrepit it had become.

I consider the four years of education received at Istrouma in the 1950s to be superior to the education obtained these days in four years at one of the many second-rate universities. As I ponder the passing of such a beloved high school, I recall the following with a heavy heart:

“Here roamed of old the red man. Here stood his skin tepee. Here crossed the mystic red stick. Tis Istrouma, tis Istrouma, tis Istrouma cried the trees. Hail Istrouma, Alma Mater. Tender love we owe to thee. Hail Istrouma, Alma Mater. We will ever faithful be.”

Fred Watson

retired chemistry professor

Conway, Arkansas