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Blake Pontchartrain: What’s a “roneagle”?

It’s not a real bird — but it’s the mascot of McDonogh 35 Senior High School


Hey Blake,

What in the world is a roneagle? I can't find it on any bird sites.


Dear Deana,

  There's a very good reason you can't find the roneagle on any list of birds. That's because it is the mythical creation of the students of McDonogh 35 Senior High School, the school that has called the bird its mascot for 88 years.

  Some people believe the bird originally was called an ironeagle, but the first letter was dropped to make it easier to pronounce. The school's first yearbook, published in 1928, described the bird as resembling an American bald eagle, but larger and stronger since it is made of solid iron.

  "In only one spot in the world has the roneagle chosen its aerie," the students wrote in that first yearbook. "There, beset with dangers before which weaker birds must flee, the roneagle lives and thrives, requiring four years to evolve from the egg to the adult stage." New roneagle eggs are introduced twice a year, they said, in September and January, presumably at the start of each semester. According to the school website, the hardcore iron diet the bird is fed daily helps to develop its power and character. "It is a most extraordinary bird ... the mightiest, swiftest and most resourceful of all winged creatures."

  While its mascot may be mythical, McDonogh 35's contributions to local education are not. The school opened at 655 S. Rampart St. in 1917 as the state's first public high school for African-Americans. Its alumni include the city's first black mayor, Ernest "Dutch" Morial, and current New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison. Other notable graduates include the Rev. A.L. Davis, the first African-American to serve on the New Orleans City Council; and Judges Israel Augustine Jr. and Joan Bernard Armstrong, the first African-American man and woman respectively to be elected judge in Louisiana.

  McDonogh 35's campus at 1331 Kerlerec St. opened in 1972 and the school remained there until last year. A new, $59.5 million building opened last August on 16 acres of land on Cadillac Street near Bayou St. John.

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