Eastside High School History
The Eastside High School had its heritage in various schools scattered in the eastern part of Union Parish. These schools survived for many years as one, two, and three teacher schools and two small high schools. Because of the many schools which have gone into the making of Eastside, a brief account of each school will be given here.
It was in the year of 1870 that the first school was established for Negroes in the section of the Parish under the leadership of Mr. William Darby on Paradise Hill in Farmerville, Louisiana with Mr. Scott as its first teacher. This school served the educational needs of the Farmerville community for a long period of time.
Through the efforts of Mrs. I.M. Guess, (now a retired teacher), the Union Parish School Board and the alert citizens of Union Parish, this school became the Union Parish Training School in the year of 1924. This was the first high school for Negroes in Union Parish. Mr. George Hunter was its first principal who was later succeeded by Mr. Hayward Berry. Mr. Berry has been credited with giving leadership that helped develop one of the best vocational training schools in Louisiana.
In keeping with the trends of the times and the goals of education, the name of Union Parish Training School was changed under the administration of Mr. J.B. Bilberry Sr. to Union Parish High School which served mainly as a college preparatory school.
During the time that Union Parish Training school was in the process of development, many other smaller schools were being established such as the Rosenwald School with Mr. Johnson as its founder. Other pioneer teachers of this school were the late Rev. A.L. Adams and his wife, Mrs. Early Adams Hodge. This school was consolidated with other neighboring schools under the administration of Mr. J.B. Bilberry and became the Lanes Chapel Junior High School. Center School, which was another school in this vicinity was established in the Williams community by a Board of Trustees of East Downsville. During the early history of Center School, Mr. John B. Yates became one of its pioneer teachers and served for twenty years. After many years of service, Center was consolidated along with other smaller schools with the Lanes Chapel school. Lanes Chapel served well under the administration of Mr. J.B. Bilberry and later under Mr. Algia Payne who was principal until its consolidation in May 1959.
Marion Industrial High School was the name given to the high school which emerged in 1951 near Marion, Louisiana. Marion Industrial had its beginning a few miles north of Marion in a town known as “By The Glades”. This school site was donated by a plantation owner for the benefit of the children of his tenants. The late Mr. Eddie Lyles and Mrs. Mary Traylor Bright were appointed as head teachers. In 1955 the schoolhouse burned, and Marion Baptist Church housed the school for a period of time.
The following teachers served in the early years of the schools which in 1951 consolidated and became Marion Industrial High School: Mr. Eddie Lyles, Mrs. Mary Traylor Broght, Rev. W.W. Willis, Mr. Williams, Mrs. Lucille Wayne and many others. Mr. Ellis Lowe was the principal of Marion Industrial, followed by Mr. C.L. Oliver, and Mr. Lorenzo Burch, the latter serving as principal at the time of its consolidation.
It was in the 1950’s that the Union Parish School Board realized that education could be greatly facilitated by consolidating all schools located in the east side of the parish into one large school. As a result of this realization on the part of the Union Parish School Board, active construction of the Eastside High school was begun in the later part of 1958 thereby transplanting the roots of the segments of all the schools into one central high school. Eastside became a reality on September 1, 1959 with Mr. O.B. Adams Sr. as its first principal.
We at Eastside boast of a modern plant: 42 teachers, 1170 students, 16 bus drivers, 4 custodians, 9 lunchroom workers, and a curriculum designed to mold the lives of boys and girls into worthwhile citizens. We are also proud to state that recently our school was approved as an accredited high school by the Louisiana Department of Education.
We pay tribute today to all of those who have served in the making of our school. An account of our heritage would not be complete without special recognition of Mrs. I.M. Guess whose work was so keenly felt that October 24th of each year was declared “I.M. Guess Day” in all the schools for Negroes in Union Parish. We also honor Mrs. Odessa Wilson whose great work is felt in all the corners of Union Parish.
Finally, we realize that we are the heirs of a great heritage and we will at all times strive to be good stewards of the heritage which has entrusted in our care.