This statue was installed in the early 1920s in front of the school (which suffered earthquake damage in 1933 and was rebuilt two years later). The model for the female at the top, dubbed "Inspiration" by the sculptor, was a Venice High student in the early 1920s; you've probably heard of her, though her last name at the time was Williams:
Yes, it's Myrna Loy, arguably the best actress never to have been nominated for an Academy Award (although she received an honorary Oscar a few years before her death in 1993). You can also see the statue in the 1978 movie "Grease," as Venice High was used as the film's fictional Rydell High.
By then, the Myrna statue had been the target for pranksters and rival schools. It was painted, defaced and the victim of other damage. The school tried to protect "Myrna" by putting a fence around it.
That didn't help matters, and the statue, desecrated and damaged, was eventually put in storage:
However, Venice High alumni wouldn't let the matter rest, and made plans -- and raised money -- to bring back "Inspiration" (and their most famous alumna):
On April 10, the plans reached fruition when a new Loy statue was unveiled:
It recreates the old statue, and is made from bronze, a much sturdier material. It's also on a seven-foot base, making it more difficult for vandals.
Loy films were shown in the school auditorium on April 10 and the ceremony's keynote speaker was actor (and Venice High alum) Beau Bridges, who at age six acted with Loy in the 1949 film "The Red Pony."
May Myrna continue to provide "inspiration" for future generations of Venice High students.