Power of 9: Entergy

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - When you think of Entergy, you may think of crews climbing poles, restoring power. But when they're not on the clock, many workers don't stop helping the community. They help Istrouma High School.

Morgan Stewart stands in the Istrouma School cafeteria with Donna Britt and says "There was a lot of wall in here. And there was a lot of peeling paint. And when they started school this year, they had an essentially brand-new cafeteria.

Entergy volunteered along with ExxonMobil for a United Way Day of Service and painted not just the cafeteria, but other paint-starved parts of the school which had gotten old and dirty.

Entergy's effort is not a drive-by kind of help.  Entergy is a sponsor in a school zone initiative that demands deep, deep commitment.

"You can't just come in and say, well I'm a chemical company so I'm gonna come in and teach chemistry. That's not gonna increase the graduation rate. You need to look at, really, the impact of poverty on the kids and how  do you attack those causes of poverty, and causes of that impact," said Stewart.

Entergy tries to gear its work to attack the very heart of poverty.  Building smarter kids will increase their ability to excel as working adults.  The company lined up with ExxonMobil, LSU, United Way, the State Department of Education, because it takes a village to rescue an entire school!   

Entergy brought in dynamic speakers to inspire the students.  Retired Lieutenant General Russel Honore spoke of making good choices to ROTC students and others. He encouraged leadership, and then he did the unexpected.  He caught a student nodding off, and targeted him for a lecture on respect.  General Honore really made an impression on students and left them wide-eyed, certain to remember the talk.

By doing some research, Entergy found federal programs and brought them to Istrouma, including some grant monies.  One program was the very successful JAG - teaching leadership, team-building, career planning, and taking kids on camping trips and other outings to give them exposure to things outside their community. There's a waiting list for the slots in JAG at Istrouma.  Kids want in!  And results show they all learn to succeed!

Morgan Stewart presents the definitive proof:  "Last year the graduation rate of seniors at Istrouma High School was 95 percent. That's up 46 percent from the year before. that's a phenomenal graduation rate!"

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