History of Winn Training-Pinecrest School 1925-1970
With the establishment of the Rosenwald Fund local schools began to appear, and there was a need for teachers. Black Colleges began to offer post graduate courses to fill this void. Churches played an important role in educating Black Youth, especially in Winn Parish. The first known effort to provide education for Black Youth, especially in Winn Parish. The first known efforts to provide education for Black Youth was in Dodson, La., at the Friendship Baptist Church, according to the late, Mrs. Lue Reed of Dodson, La., who recalled her mother telling her about the minister that came to Dodson from Shreveport in the mid- l 860s and taught school at The Friendship Church.
In the late 19th century and the early 20th century most of the schools for Blacks in Winn Parish were church related or taught in someone’s home. The teachers received their training either in Natchitoches Parish or at Coleman College in Gibsland, La. In Winnfield, La., the Odd Fellow Hall and Anderson Temple Methodist Church were used. Beatrice Ball taught classes in her home. The Ball home school was later moved to Morning Star Baptist Church. John Carroll, a graduate of Coleman College, opened a school in a brush arbor, which became New Zion Baptist Church. Among other early teachers were Miss Sallie Holmes, Christine McDade, Mr. Adams, Mr. and Mrs. J.E. Cocker, H.T. Nicholls, Miss Della Riser, Miss Ida Watson and others.
On February 1, 1905, the Winn Parish School Board recognized 12 black schools in Winn Parish, New Friendship, Evergreen, Pleasant Hill, Atlanta, Union Hill, Cedar Creek, Morning Star, Saline Grove, McCarty, Coldwater, and Piney Woods. It was necessary to have a eleventh grade certificate in order to be employed as a teacher, and the pay was not to exceed $35 per month, and the term was to be for a period of three months.
In 1910 it was decided by the board that the schools were not progressing as they should, so district directors were appointed to oversee the schools. Some of the directors were Leonie Brown and Burden Holmes for the Winnfield district; H.Y. Bowie and Levi McWright for the Cedar Creek district; P. Allen and J.A. McMurry for the Dodson district. Other districts had directors such as J.P. Sikes, Levi McCarty, Thomas Small, R.L. Jackson, and Tom Purvis.
In the year 1916, a few interesting pioneer citizens saw the need to expand the education experiences for Black children beyond the primary grades and appeal to the Winn Parish School Board and Superintendent J.J. Mixon for help in obtaining a school building. This group consisted of Major Satterwhite, Amos Wills, John Carroll, Frank Moss, Samuel Winslow, and Reverend Burden Holmes.
Through their efforts a two-story building consisting of four classrooms was constructed and was named the Winnfield Colored School. Mr. Albert L. Hill was the principal. Miss Doretha Darden, Edith Ross, and Lillian Scott were teachers.
In the year 1925 with the leadership of assistant teacher, Mariah H. Lewis, and principal, A.C. Peters, the Winnfield Colored School was able to secure enough funds to have electric lights and a water well. Also, another building was added to the campus.
With a need for a high school, the committee once again appeared before the Winn Parish School Board and on May 14, 1920, and on resolution by T.F. Wade established at Dodson, La., the Winn Training School for Negroes with the help of the Rosenwald Fund. Dodson was chosen because it was one of the most prosperous cities in Winn Parish. The bank was there. Dodson also had the mills and the largest population.
In the mid-twenties the number of schools in Winn Parish increased to approximately 80. The mill in Dodson closing, and the one in Atlanta caused people to begin settling in Winnfield. The Winn Training School at Dodson was losing its students because at the time most of its students lived in Winnfield. This prompted the citizens of Winnfield to go before the school board in early 1929 to ask that the training school be moved to Winnfield. The board agreed that if the community could raise $500 the would provide $5000 (the amount that the Rosenwald Fund required) as a match to construct a school. This was accomplished on May 13, 1929, and Winnfield Colored School became Winn Training School with Mr. Zuma Bell as the principal.
The classes were from grades one through eleven. The first graduation class consisted of Beartis Abraham, Ritchie Lee, Richard Blackwood, Mildred Farley, Willie Johnson, Douglas McCarty, Willie McCarty, and Vivian Clark.
Under the administration of Mr. J.A. Simpson from 1933-1943 another building was added. The building was constructed from the materials of the old Winnfield Senior High School. The community leaders secured the bricks when the Winn Parish School Board built a new high school for the White students and tore down the old high school building. The community leaders moved the bricks to the Winn Training School Campus and constructed the school. When completed the building consisted of several classrooms an a office for the principal. A great emphasis was placed on the state curriculum and increased skills were exhibited by students in athletics.
Mr. Benny E. Bailey started the first agriculture program at the school and continued the school beautification program. Mr. Lewis Long initiated the first hot lunch program. The school also obtained its first hot water facilities and appliances for the Home Economics Department.
Under the administration of Mr. J.A. Gaulden, the school experienced its greatest growth. With more certified teachers and an overall improvement in academic and social skills. In 1954 the school reached a peak enrollment of 582 students. Many of the smaller schools closed and moved their enrollment to Winn Training School. The gym and agriculture buildings were constructed. The Winn Training School won its first championship in basketball and drama in 1953. They also excelled in academics. The trend continued through 1957, the year that ended the Winn Training School era and the reign of Mr. Gaulden as principal. In 1955 a new school was constructed and named Pinecrest High School by Mrs. Ina Mae Fobbs with Mr. D.C. Douglas as principal. The school song was set to music by Mr. Donald Newton. In the early 1960s Mr. Johnny Wilson became principal. Under his leadership the school gained the respect as one of the best schools in the state. The school consisted of sixty-two teacher, a principal, an assistant principal, a janitor, six maids, four cooks, and approximately seven hundred students.
In 1970 in addition to Pinecrest there were three other schools for Blacks in the parish – Hilltop Elementary School (Dodson, La., with grades one to eight), Union Hill Elementary School (Calvin, La., with grades one to eight), and New Enterprise Elementary School ( St. Maurice, La., also with grades one to eight).
Mrs. Sadie Hollingsworth was the longtime principal of Hilltop Elementary School but retired when it was consolidated with Dodson High School. At Union Hill Elementary Mr. Perry Hollingsworth was the principal when it was consolidated with Calvin High School. The black school at St. Maurice La., New Enterprise Elementary, had as its principal Millard Hollingsworth. It did not close until 1979 when the students were transferred to Atlanta High School. Etoy Ashley became the first school administrator after integration. He served first as assistant principal at Winnfield Senior High School. He later served as Supervisor of Federal Programs. J.B. Hobdy was the first Black principal to serve in an integrated school, Westside Elementary School in Winn Parish.
Until the end of World War II conditions for the education of Blacks were below standards. Black schools ran for shorter term than the Whites and teachers’ salaries were much Jess than that of the white teachers. Bus transportation was provided only for White students, but thanks to people like Mr. Cleveland Riser who used his own resources to get black students to school.
Pinecrest High School was noted for its academic excellence. It has produced many outstanding teachers, lawyers, doctors, businessmen, nurses, administrators, and engineers. Today black students continue to excel academically in Winn Parish Public School System. It should be noted that Black students continue beyond high school to excel in colleges, universities, businesses, industries, as well as non-academic areas.
By: Lloyd King