History of Adam Carlson High School
Most of the African American students in St. Martin Parish who pursued a high school education before 1949 attended Holy Rosary Institute in Lafayette, Louisiana. From 1949 to 1960, George Washington Carver High School located in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, served students from Cade, St. Martinville, Parks, Cypress Island, Breaux Bridge, Cecilia, and Arnaudville.
Adam Carlson and friends lobbied the St. Martinville School Board and the State of Louisiana to build a second high school in St. Martin Parish. In 1958, a decision was made to construct a second high school for African Americans in the St. Martin Parish seat: St. Martinville, Louisiana. The high school, Adam Carlson High School, was named in honor of Adam Carlson who was a civic leader, insurance agent, businessman, and an advocate for education for African Americans in St. Martin Parish who tirelessly fought to improve educational opportunities for African Americans and a strong advocate for a high school in St. Martinville for black students. Adam Carlson High School students came from St. John, parts of Cypress Island, St. Martinville, and Cade. Adam Carlson High School served African American students from 9th through 12th grades.
Adam Carlson High School opened in September 1960. Its first graduation class was in May 1961. The school was built on the southern end of the city on College Street which was renamed Martin Luther King Drive in 1968. Proximity allowed African American elementary, junior high school, and high school students to share the same cafeteria site.
The last graduation class was in 1970. Ten graduations occurred during this ten-year span. Adam Carlson High School became Adam Carlson Junior High School in 1970 with students in grades six through eight.
The faculty at Adam Carlson High School were:
Newman Braud, Principal
Fulton Raymond, Vice Principal
Henry Louviere, Math
Isabella Collins, Librarian
Richie Dauphine, Home Economics
Lois Orphe, English
Emily McCoy, Physical Education, girls
Wilfred Woolfolk, Physical Education, boys
David Pipkin, Music/Band
Me Redo, French
Verdell Ventroy, History
Marjorie Etienne, Business
Bus drivers were Dave Jean Batiste, Albert James, Pop Pop Alexander, Johnny Etienne, Labole Narcisse and Thomas Nelson.
Cafeteria personnel were Anna L. Menard, Pearl Francois, Anna Mae Champ, Mary Bourda, Alice Tom, Alice Charles, Mary Fontenette, and Theresa Pratt.
Adam Carlson was born on March 1, 1876 in St. Martinville, Louisiana. Carlson, the son of Jacob Carlson and Louise Williams and the eldest of five children, received his first training through private tutoring and later enrolled in Gilbert Academy in Baldwin, Louisiana. His formal education ended when his father died in 1892 and he had to discontinue his education in order to help support his family. However, he continued to study and read at home. During this time, he was a barber, a grocer and an insurance agent.
Carlson rose from agent to state superintendent of one of the largest Black owned insurance companies in Louisiana. He married Winnie James in 1896 and had five children before she died in 1918. Although his marriage to Regina Thibodeaux in 1920 helped in the raising and caring of his children, he was concerned about their education as they approached high school age with no high school available in the St. Martinville area. Students had to commute to New Iberia in order to pursue higher education status in the parish.
Carlson became active in local efforts to improve educational opportunities by serving on committees that asked for nine months of school instead of five months for the Black children in St. Martinville. He asked for more teachers so that school could be conducted all day, found a building to provide housing for teachers, and for more classrooms until a new school could be built. He was instrumental in helping establish a high school for black students in St. Martinville. His persistence continued until his death in 1940 and he was honored for those efforts when the first Black public high school was built. That school was named after Adam Carlson.