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eleanor mcmain

In 1930, the Orleans Parish School Board broke tradition and voted to name a new school for girls for a living person; the legendary social worker, educator and Director of Kingsley House, here in New Orleans, Miss Eleanor Laura McMain.

With McMain’s leadership, Kingsley House, located in the Irish Channel, served as a community center for the working-class neighborhood. Although, Trinity Episcopal Church had established the settlement house, McMain transformed it into a nonsectarian facility to reach out to the entire community, regardless of religious affiliation. McMain’s activism included going door to door to instruct residents about preventative health care, participating in the in the Anti-Tuberculosis Association, testifying before the state legislature about child labor, and collaborated with Sophie Newcomb college to open a school for social workers. She died May 12, 1934, and was buried in Magnolia Cemetery in Baton Rouge.

In February of 1932, Eleanor McMain High School opened her doors as a new public school for girls. The building itself was to be something of an inspiration to the students. It was a departure from the prevailing style of red brick structures. This school, built on broad South Claiborne Avenue, was finished in green stucco and nicely decorated. On both sides of the front entrance, high above the doorway are two statues. In the one on the left, the figure holding a distaff in her hand with a spinning wheel at her feet represents Industry. On the right, the figure holds a book and a wise old owl is with her representing Knowledge. The classrooms were bright with walls of blue, pink, or green and walls of yellow enclosed a patio. The building was quoted as being “a symphony of riotous, splashing color.” The girls chose green and white as their school colors. The dedication ceremony of the new building was held in the schools auditorium in March 1932, and Miss Eleanor McMain, whose name it perpetuates, was one of the speakers for the occasion.

The first principal of McMain High School was Alice A. Leckert. She served in this capacity from 1932 until the summer of 1948. In fall of 1948, Miss Amy Hinrichs was appointed as McMain's new administrator. She held this position until 1952, when the Orleans Parish School Board decreed that McMain be converted into a co-educational high school.

From its beginning, McMain School has been an integral part of the community. Its graduates have gone out into the world with a quality education, and a life long membership in a most prestigious entourage, the McMain Family.

Notable McMain Alumni
Lil Wayne (Dwayne Michael Carter Jr.) Attended McMain in the 1990s for two years before transferring to Marion Abramson Senior High School.
Darrion Weems - NFL Offensive Tackle. Attended, but did not graduate McMain.(displaced by Hurricane Katrina)
Emeka Onyenekwu - NFL Defensive End. Attended but graduated from McKinley High School in Baton Rouge following Hurricane Katrina.

It is our hope that all members of the McMain family, past and present, join with us in perpetuating the high ideals and standards of our school and the name, Eleanor Laura McMain.

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