For every town, a high school (or woes of Wilcox County)

“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.

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School stories: Seville


Seville school, Wilcox County, 2017

Seville is slightly off the beaten path of US 280 in the western half of Wilcox County.

Pronounced See’vil, it was a town once right in the thick of things, on the highway and in population.

A 1950 United States census enumeration map estimated the town’s population at 250, just 100 less than the nearby town of Pitts. The map also showed 280 going right through the heart of town.

Seville was already beginning to languish in 1950.

The school building above had already been shuttered. Fifteen years ago, the situation had been different.

The Georgia Educational Directory first began listing the amount of teachers per school in the 1937-38 edition. That year, Seville had five of them and was considered a “standard” elementary school.

While not explained in any of the old directories, state-issued educational surveys from the 1910s-20s considered “standard schools” to have a good, clean building with well-trained teachers using at least some modern supplies and equipment. Standards had likely been raised by the 1930s, but probably  not by much.

The standard label was gone in 1940-41. The number of teachers was down, too, to four. That number dwindled even further in the 1941-42 Georgia Educational Directory to three.

World War II was peaking for the United States in 1943-44 as Seville dropped yet another teacher. That might have been it for the school. The 1944-45 directory is not online and the school did not appear in 1945-46 edition.

Not long after, the remainder of Wilcox’s rural schools began closing. By 1951, white schools were only in Abbeville, Rochelle, Pitts and Pineview.

School Stories is a series of current-to fairly current photos of schools buildings. Some are long abandoned, some are still in use. Most will be rural or small town schools. Information is provided by newspaper archives and editions of the Georgia Educational Directory.