Article Written By Loretta Crowder Stanley, Class of 1956
In 1916, the school began its first year in a lodge operated by a Mr. Lindsey that was located across the road from the former elementary school. It later became a public school. The first principal of the two-room county school was Mr. C. C. Horne, father of the late Mrs. Margaret Horne Sinclair. The Rosenwald Fund later assumed operation of the school. Later the county schools required a little more preparation to teach above the elementary school level and one of the first teachers was Mr. Massey of Monroe N.C. Other teachers added to the staff were Mr. Evans, Mr. Justice, Mr. Flemings, Mrs. Mamie Alexander and Mrs. Ednir McManus.
A Polkton Colored High School (A Rosenwald School). The school was vacant when the photo was taken just before the school was destroyed. The photo shows the back of the school. Photo Provided by Willie Martin Boggan
A Rosenwald School was the name informally applied to over five thousand schools and teachers’ homes in the United States which were built primarily for the education of Blacks in the early 20th Century. The need arose from the chronic underfunding of public education for Black children in the South who were required to attend segregated schools. Julius Rosenwald was a white northerner and a German-Jewish immigrant’s son. He was an American clothier who became part-owner and president of Sears, Roebuck and Company. Rosenwald was the founder of the Rosenwald Fund, through which he contributed seed money and matched donations toward the construction of Black schools. To promote collaboration between white and black citizens, Rosenwald required communities to commit public funds to the schools, as well as to contribute additional cash donations. Millions of dollars were raised by African-American rural communities across the South to fund better education for their children.
Polkton Colored School became the new name of the school and Mr. Reece Sinclair was named principal in 1939 and served diligently for the next 27 years. At that time, the school housed grades 1-11 with the first graduating class receiving diplomas in 1941. Later, students were required to complete 12 grades before graduating and the last high school graduation was held in May 1967 with 20 students being granted their diplomas.
The majority of the students were transported by bus from various communities (Peachland, Polkton, Poplar Hill, Hamilton Town, West Rocky Ford, New Grove, etc). Grades 1-7 were housed in one building while grades 8-12 were taught in the other one. There were a variety of courses, such as, Agriculture, Home Economics, Band and Typing along with the basic and advanced courses in English, Mathematics, Social Studies and Science. With the integration of the high schools in Anson County, our Alma Mater became an elementary institution again with grades 1-8. Our high school students were transferred to Bowman High School in Wadesboro N.C.
East Polkton School History
Summer school in the 1940’s and 1950’s was not for students who needed to make up or take an extra course, but was for all students because many parents operated farms and students were needed to help with the crops. Summer school lasted six weeks between July and August. School was closed during harvest time.
Tragedy struck the school in 1952 when the building housing grades 1-7 was destroyed by fire and these grades had to be housed at other facilities. In 1955, a new building was erected on a new site located about one mile from the old site. The Student Council was organized during the 1952-53 school year. The following year, the Student Council wrote the school song in the tune of “Navy Blue and Gold” it is still proudly song.
We have mentioned the many courses we were privileged with, but we would be remiss if we did not take the time to mention those times set aside to exercise our brain with extracurricular activities, such as, Band, 4-H and F-H clubs, basketball, softball and just a “little bit” of tennis. Oh, were those field trips FUN! Some of us even got an opportunity to sunbathe on the Atlantic Beach, of course, (for colored only). We were not privileged to a gymnasium, cafeteria, air-conditioned building or an auditorium until sometime “much” later, that did not matter because we were just too happy to be in school and not in the cotton patch or pulling tobacco.
In May, 1966, Mr. Sinclair was named General Supervisor for the Anson County Schools and Mr. James Evans ably assumed the principal ship position and served the alma mater well. Mr. Evans remained principal until 1985 when he was relocated to another position in the Anson County School System. Ms. Elaine Scarborough was named principal following Mr. Evans’ departure. The school later merged with the Peachland Elementary and the two schools then became Peachland-Polkton Elementary School, which is located between the two towns.
A search of the archives showed the following teachers on the staff at some point:
Mr. C. C. Horne (First Principal)
Mr. Reece Sinclair, Principal/Teacher (1939-1966)
Mr. James Evans, Principal (1966-1985)
At all East Polkton School Alumni Reunions alumni members have paused to pay tribute to alums and family members who have passed since the last reunion by lighting a candle in each one’s memory. This ritual shall continue.
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Post Office Box 222 | Wingate, NC 28174-0222