Brewton school saga, Part III: Albatross

Dr. B.D. Perry school opened in 1958 in Laurens County, six years after Laurens County’s school building program began. It opened two years after black students in eastern Laurens County were denied use of Brewton School.

Brewton School had been a white school building, but Laurens officials with state approval planned on remodeling it and enlarging it for use by black students. Brewton’s white students were going to be abandoning the building for the new East Laurens High, an all-grades building that opened in April 1956.

Despite Brewton’s updates being 90 percent complete, builders were forced to stop. Part of one wing was being built on private property. Local Brewtonians, who admitted they did not want black students in that school, now had their wish.

Continue reading “Brewton school saga, Part III: Albatross”

Advertisements

Brewton school saga, Part II: Opposition

When East Laurens opened in April 1956, all school children from Brewton, plus all the high school students from Condor and Wilkes moved into the new building. Wilkes’ high school had combined with Brewton at the start of the 1955-56 school year, a consolidation known as Brewton-Wilkes High.

Laurens County was still in the middle of a building program and black schools were being erected at Dudley (Millville) and a few miles south of Dublin (Mary Fleming). With Brewton now vacated, work could also finish on the building there, which was being renovated and remodeled for a third all-grades black school.

The location of another white high school in the Rentz area had been debated some time, with one court case decided and its appeal hanging in the balance.

Rentz, however, was joined by a newer and bigger problem in Laurens County: Brewton.

Continue reading “Brewton school saga, Part II: Opposition”

Brewton School saga , Part I: Brewton and her school

The Minimum Foundation Program and the State School Building Authority are frequently referenced in this blog.

The combination of the two programs were among the biggest influences in education, along with, but not limited to, free textbooks, the Quality Basic Education Act and the train of technology in its various forms.

Georgia’s plans in the 1950s to streamline its education, to get the most bang for its bucks, changed the fabric of schools, especially at the high school level.

Whereas states like Texas are seemingly content to maintain tiny high schools – Dave Campbell’s Texas Football was able to rattle off 10 high schools in 2016 with enrollments of 35 or less playing high school football at some level  – Georgia frowned upon that. In 1953, Tift County’s Omega High lost its accreditation from the state because it had fewer than 60 students in its top four grades. Public high schools in Georgia have only gotten bigger since.

In the 1950s, schools consolidated at a rapid pace, into existing buildings that had enough room; into existing buildings with additions; or into completely new buildings because of a much larger student load and/or the inadequacy of the already existing buildings.

The Brewton School saga involved the third of these types of building projects. The State Board of Education and the Laurens County Board of Education decided to consolidate Brewton’s students into the new East Laurens school building.

But Brewton had a decent school building and no one wanted to see it go to waste. Officials planned on solving more consolidation with it, namely the consolidation of a section of Laurens County’s black students.

This plan went haywire.

Continue reading “Brewton School saga , Part I: Brewton and her school”

Early school surveys by the Department of Education

1923- Duluth School
“The building was so inadequate and over-crowded that no inspection was made and no attempt at educational measurements could be made on account of the crowded condition.” – From M.L. Duggan’s survey of Gwinnett County schools, 1923.

In preparing for updates for the Minimum Foundation Program in the 1950s, nearly all Georgia school systems prepared a survey of school needs. These alerted the systems, citizens and state as to the deficiencies within the schools.

The surveys were a massive undertaking and it took more than a decade for all the associated building projects to be completed.

These were not the first surveys ever to be done. Nearly 40 years earlier, a series of them were done by Mell L. Duggan, Georgia’s Rural School Agent.

Starting with Rabun County in 1914, for the next 10 years, Duggan was essentially a one-man crusade visiting schools and making suggestions as to how rural counties could improve the education of their children.

Continue reading “Early school surveys by the Department of Education”

Valdosta, Albany and the controversial 1929 football season, Part III

Continued from Part II

The SGAA waited to rule on the 1929 Valdosta-Albany football game until after head coach Mike Herndon and Valdosta returned home. After playing Albany, the team went to Athens to watch the Georgia-Georgia Tech game, which was played in the brand new Sanford Stadium.

One of the points of Valdosta contention was the name of an official. The Wildcats expected one of the men to be Lake Russell, Mercer’s head coach (coaches as officials was extremely common). Valdosta claims the man on the field was even introduced as Lake Russell, but Russell assured Valdostans via telegram that he was not in Albany. There was an official surnamed Russell on the field that day, it being Glasgow Russell.

Continue reading “Valdosta, Albany and the controversial 1929 football season, Part III”

Valdosta, Albany and the controversial 1929 football season, Part II

1929-12-03 Valdosta Times (team)
The Valdosta High Wildcats of 1929, printed in the December 3, 1929 Valdosta Times. Head coach Mike Herndon is far left. To his immediate right is possibly city schools superintendent A.G. Cleveland. VHS is posed in front of its school building on Williams Street, which was its home from 1922-73. The building has since been destroyed by fire.

Continued from Part I

Valdosta was feeling quite confident heading into the 1929 football game with Albany.

Even before Moultrie was played, Valdosta’s local CRYING Out Loud column said it was in the bag.

“Albany will be disposed of next week,” said DeWitt Roberts’s column printed November 26, “unless some surprising upset occurs. That will leave the Cats the undisputed champion out of the conference, perhaps out of the entire South Georgia area.”

The column even said that Valdosta folks were looking into a game with Athens for what it called a state championship. The two had already had a so-called title game in 1920, which was won by the Wildcats.

Moultrie was duly conquered, 27-0, on Thanksgiving Day. It was on to Albany.

Continue reading “Valdosta, Albany and the controversial 1929 football season, Part II”

Valdosta, Albany and the controversial 1929 football season, Part I

For as long as there have been sports, there have been controversies over plays. From kids arguing over fouls in backyard games, to the 2017 Georgia High School Association state championships, there have been disputes.

Every team has one they can point out.

The “Holy Roller” and “Immaculate Conception” are two from National Football League history. Georgia and Florida argue over the number of wins in their football series. Peach County feels they were robbed of the Class AAA football title last year.

One of the biggest controversies on the high school gridiron during the first half of the 20th century occurred in 1929 when Valdosta High disputed an Albany High touchdown and walked off the field.

Valdosta’s 1929 season was more than a single play. It was a season of incidents that affected multiple games. Many of the individuals from both season and game ended as big names in their communities and the state.

This is an attempt to tell what happened.

Continue reading “Valdosta, Albany and the controversial 1929 football season, Part I”