A school name too difficult

You probably have not heard of Morgan-Leary High School.

Its existence is only ┬ánoted in a single one of Georgia’s educational directories, the 1957-58 edition. Its actual life was even shorter.

Morgan-Leary is likely one of the shortest-lived high schools in Georgia’s history.

Under its name, the school only lasted three months. The reason for changing it was one of the stranger decisions in state school history, too – Morgan-Leary was too cumbersome.

Morgan-Leary, located in Morgan, was named August 14, 1957 at a Calhoun County Board of Education meeting. It was renamed at another Calhoun County board meeting to Morgan High November 13, 1957.

The reason behind the change was explained by the Calhoun County Board of Education in the November 22 Calhoun County News:

“Upon suggestion of the board members from the Morgan district, a motion was made with concurrence from the Leary board member to change the name of the Morgan-Leary High School back to its original Morgan High School. Explanation revealed the name Morgan-Leary High School was impractical because of its length.”

Morgan-Leary was not even the most complicated name in the state at that time; Sardis-Girard-Alexander, which existed from 1952-87 (or 1954-87) in Burke County had two hyphens and three towns and communities incorporated into its name. And there was also Newnan-Coweta County Central High, though that was nearly universally referred to as Newnan Central.

Morgan-Leary was a name change from Calhoun High. Not to be confused with the city of Calhoun, whose high school held the same name, this Calhoun High had adopted the moniker in 1953, when Calhoun County was seemingly on the cusp of consolidation.

Edison and Morgan were going to consolidate in 1953, with the high school at Morgan. Everything looked ready to go, until the state of Georgia intervened.

No public hearing had been set up in Edison, the state said. Five years later, the state would rule similarly when Cleveland and Nacoochee high schools were kept from consolidating in White County.

High schools in Edison and Morgan went back to their previous status. Morgan kept the name Calhoun.

White County was delayed in 1958 and consolidated in 1959. The opposite happened in Calhoun County where instead of being a temporary delay, consolidation turned into a war.

In 1955, Arlington and Edison refused to consolidate and Calhoun County maintained three white high schools for three more years, with the second Morgan High existing for less than one year.

On February 12, 1958, the Calhoun County Board voted for Morgan High’s students to go to Edison for the 1958-59 school year. In return, Edison sent its middle school students to Morgan.

Morgan’s status as a junior high only lasted until 1968, according to the Georgia Educational Directory. The school closed completely that year, with the only school remaining in the town the all-grades segregated school, H.T. Singleton.

Arlington and Edison were gone by then as high schools.

Low attendance caught up with them and the Calhoun County BOE voted to consolidate both in September 1962, with the two coming together in 1963 when a new high school building opened in Edison.

Sources: The Calhoun County News – Aug. 21, 1953, Sept. 2, 1955, Aug. 23, 1957, Nov. 22, 1957, Feb. 28, 1958, Sept. 20, 1962; Georgia Educational Directory – 1953-54, 1957-58, 1958-59, 1967-68.

When losing is perhaps your only option

The football season was not a good one in Morgan in 1955.

Calhoun High, the home team in that locality – not to be confused with Calhoun High in the city of Calhoun – had played five football games through the first week of October. In those five weeks, the squad had been shut out three times and had scored a grand total of two touchdowns.

An October 14 game against equally winless Sylvester might have seemed potential salvation, but not for head coach Wright Wilkins.

Already a small school, injuries had decimated the squad and local interest in football was waning.

Wilkins thought the right thing to do would be to abandon the rest of the season, forfeiting where necessary.

But not so fast.

The Georgia High School Association apparently told Wilkins that Calhoun had to play or else forfeit the guarantees for the contracted games.

In the midst of trying to prove that Calhoun could stay afloat without consolidation, Wilkins had little choice. They had to press on.

“Thus,” said the Sylvester Local, “Morgan has decided to field the best team they have to finish out the schedule.”

In a final jab to Calhoun’s troubles, Wilkins believed it was necessary to move the game from Calhoun’s home field location of Leary to Sylvester. Without local support, Calhoun did not see a home game as being financially worth it.

Sylvester, which entered with a six-game losing streak dating back to 1954, thankfully put Calhoun out of its misery early, rolling to a 25-0 win.

Wilkins and Calhoun managed to finish out the 1955 campaign, though they scored only 20 more points.

Calhoun played a partial schedule in 1956 before giving up football. The high school consolidated with Edison in 1963 to form Calhoun County. No further football would be attempted until 1971.

Sources: Sylvester Local, Oct. 13, 1955; Georgia High School Football Historians Associaton.