When the school bells rang for the first time in September 1950, it was a joyous occasion for many children who came from neighborhoods throughout Baton Rouge (Eden Park, Easytown, Byrd Station, Georgetown, Alsen, Dixie, The Lake, Scotlandville, Zion City, Brookstown, The Park) and Port Allen, to be part of a new school (Capitol Avenue Junior-Senior High School). Capitol Junior-Senior High School located at 4200 Capitol Avenue (today Gus Young Avenue) became the second (McKinley) minority public secondary school in East Baton Rouge Parish.
Charles W. Keel was named the first principal of Capitol and he led the school with great skill in determining the quality of work done and enstooling a spirit of school loyalty. Mr. Keel was meticulous about his staff selections with approximately 30% having earned Master’s degrees and 85% completing studies beyond Bachelor’s degree level. He was about education.
Not many recall Capitol’s first colors were GREEN and GOLD (1950-1951) but changed during its second year of operation to RED and GOLD. Our one and only mascot has always been the Lion, thus the name “Capitol Golden Lions”. The football team won the State Championship in 1955. In LIALA Competition, the newspapers noted “Capitol students who entered the literary phases of the Louisiana Interscholastic Athletic and Literary Association walked off handily with a majority of the first places in the various events represented”. Capitol High was featured on the radio and was the first school in East Baton Rouge Parish to be featured on television.
In 1959 Capitol Junior-Senior High School officially divided. The Junior High School with grades 7th and 8th (under the leadership of Milton Simmons), remained in the original building and grades 9-12 moved to 1000 N. 23rd Street, the new home of the Golden Lions, with Mr. Charles W. Keel as Principal and Robert D. West, Jr. as Assistant principal.
The class of 1960 was the first to graduate from the new Capitol Senior High School. In 1967 Capitol was named the 7th best High School in the Nation by the Purdue Educational Report.
From 1970-1980, these were years of great change. Integration arrived at LAST. The students became multi-racial and busing was way of life. Mr. Keel guided and forged bonds with all ethnic groups and challenged all to “DO THE RIGHT THINGS” and ensure that graduates from the Red and GOLD could stand and be counted in a positive way on whatever road they decided to take.
Sadly, in 1979, the leadership of Capitol changed upon the retirement of Mr. Keel. However, the bar continued to be set higher and higher under the leadership of Capitol’s second Principal Mr. William “Tex” Turner. From 1980-1990 the Lions continued to grow stronger. They won academic and athletic laurels. During his time (late 80’s) the state began requiring students to pass an exit examination. Students at Capitol scored at such high levels that the test results were questioned and they (students) were required to retest. The theme – “Stand and Deliver” was adopted, and “Deliver” they did. Students proved that they were capable of doing well by again achieving high scores.
The nineties ushered in additional changes, Mr. Turner retired, and Dr. Lloyd Norwood took the helm. In 1993 Mrs. Josie Miller Williams was installed as Capitol’s 4th Principal with a vision of preparation towards the 21st Century.
Beginning in the middle to late nineties Capitol began a slow downward spiral. After several years of academic challenges, a school name change (Capitol Boys and Girls Academy) and several principals (Mr. James Machen; Mr. Elton Blunt, Mr. Perry, Mrs. Lewis) the state stepped in (2008) and removed Capitol High School from the East Baton Rouge Parish School System. (what authority; the Legislature created the state public school system in 2003 to take over schools that failed to meet state student-achievement benchmarks for four consecutive years)
In September (2008) Capitol Boys and Girls Academy opened as a Charter School with the group 100 Black Men as its principle charter school operator. However, with a low number of students (approximately 280) and even lower test scores the parade of principals continued with – Ms. D. Rogers (2008-2009). Mr. Green (2009-2010) and Ms. O. Albert (2010-2011). Not able to chart a successful way forward, the 100 Black Men organization returned the Charter to RSD control in 2011.
For the next two years (2011-2013) the Charter Operator (RSD) and Principal (Mr. Roy Walker) provided a stabilizing force for Capitol Senior High School Students. But, the RSD is not in the day to day business of running schools.
Therefore, in June 2013, the Charter for Capitol Senior High School (renamed in 2011) was awarded to Friendship Public Charter School. Thus, began Capitol High’s next chapter. Armed with the Charter, the school was renamed “Friendship Capitol Senior High School” with Ms. Keisha Netterville (2014-2015) and Mr. Paul Jackson (2015) as its principal.