“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.
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.
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.
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.
Many, many Georgia schools have been named for geography. The announcement that the soon-to-open Denmark High in Forsyth County was to be named for a person was a bit of a surprise. Few persons see their names on high school buildings here.
In the days of segregation, many schools were named for geography: Gray High, Tift County Industrial, Houston County Training, etc.
But there were many that weren’t, especially with new buildings opening in the 1950s.
George Washington Carver was a popular name for schools.
“It looks to me that if there was ever a school system ripe for consolidation, it’s yours.”
– David Rice, State Board of Education, to Wilcox County officials, March 1963
In 2016, Wilcox County, Georgia, was estimated to have a grand total of 8,761 citizens. The number was a bit smaller just over 50 years ago. Census records show Wilcox with 7,905 citizens in 1960.
The Wilcox County Patriots currently compete in Class A athletics, the smallest in the Georgia High School Association. There are only two years that Wilcox has ever been above Class A. After GHSA restructuring in 1978, in which Class B was eliminated, the school jumped to AA. It was A again in 1980 and Class A is where it has been since.
All Wilcox County public high school students attend Wilcox County High. There are no private schools within Wilcox’s borders and probably no more than a handful or two attend private schools elsewhere.
With all of Wilcox in Class A, it would seem natural that it was an early consolidation because of its lack of students. Fellow Class A school Lanier County did not entertain another white high school beyond the early 1920s. Irwin County finished consolidating its white high schools in 1952. Turner County was complete in 1957. It had only two white high schools to consolidate at that time.
Then the following might be odd.
Dade County is about as far out of Georgia as you can get in Georgia.
Dade County, 1864. From Lloyd’s Topographical Map of Georgia and GeorgiaInfo.
Mountains all but isolate it from anywhere else in the state. In the days of segregation, its black school, Hooker, was too small to support a high school. Instead of going somewhere else in Georgia, it was easiest to transport these children to Howard High of Chattanooga, Tenn.
When Dade High’s gym burned in 1951, it perhaps became the only Georgia school to play home games in another state, as the school booked the gym at John A. Patten School, located near Chattanooga, to use until a new facility could be built in Trenton.
Dade County is sometimes referred to as the “State of Dade” or “Independent State of Dade.”