Princeton High School, Princeton, Louisiana

Princeton (1)

The History of Princeton High School

Paper written by Princeton School Student, Katie DuPont for her Social Studies Fair Project. January 19, 1995.

ABSTRACT

This report is about the history of Princeton Middle School. In this report, you will learn about important dates and read about the people who made Princeton School what it is today.

I became interested in this subject when Mrs. Montgomery, my Social Studies teacher, mentioned that there was some “real history” about Princeton School. What I learned about Princeton School was very interesting to me because this is my first year at Princeton. I now know what this school really means and more about its early beginnings. I do not believe anyone has really ever looked into this subject, but someone should have a long time ago, and maybe we would know even more about it. I hope whoever reads this enjoys the history as much as I did.

I am in the sixth grade at Princeton Middle School. This is my first year here, and I like it very much. I became interested in finding out about the history of our school, and that is why I selected this topic. As I started research for my report, I found that there was very little written about it. Most of the information in this report has been gotten by talking with people in the Princeton community.

The first school in the Princeton area was located on land adjoining the Wesley Chapel Church. Wesley Chapel was built on land owned by Rev. John Hawkins in 1871. The Wesley Chapel at that time was located across the Princeton Road from where the Princeton Post Office is today. I found a land deed at the Benton Courthouse stating that W. J. Hickman of Bossier Parish sold one acre of land to the Patrons of the Fillmore Colored School, Luke Ely, George Fullwood, and Isaac Taliver were the trustees of the school. Mr. Hickman sold the land for $6 on January 24, 1899. A one-room schoolhouse was built there for grades primer (kindergarten) through seventh.

Mrs. Susan Copeland Edwards was the first teacher. The school term lasted three months (November through January), but parents of the children sometimes paid for an additional one or two months of schooling if they had the money to extend the term.

The Fillmore Colored School closed after several years. According to Mrs. Willie Dennis of

Princeton, two more one-room schoolhouses were built in the early 1900s. She remembers one

school, which was called Tin Top School, was located on the Ealy farm. It was located somewhere across Princeton Road from where Princeton School is today. The other school was called Cedar Grove and was located on the land where Princeton School is today.

Mrs. Dennis attended the Tin Top School in 1913, and her first teacher was a Mrs. Smith. The school term still lasted only three months.

Some history records show the purchase of land for a permanent school site was made in 1910. A land deed I found at the Benton Courthouse indicates the land was not purchased until August 25, 1911. Mr. George Fullwood, Sr. sold one acre of land to the Bossier Parish School Board for $15. This is part of the site where our school is located today. I believe this is the land where the one-room Cedar Grove School was built.

Another land deed from the Benton Courthouse shows that Elbert and Venus Fullwood sold some land to the Bossier Parish School Board on August 27, 1919, for $25 and the transfer of one acre of land then owned by the School Board. The land Mr. Elbert Fullwood sold is also part of where our school is located today.

The two schools combined, and a new school was opened in 1919. The school had three classrooms and a cooking room. It had four teachers, and Mrs. L. M. Cash was the principal. The school term now lasted six months. This school was called Rosenwald because it received grants from the Rosenwald funds. There were a number of other schools in the southern states named Rosenwald.

Julius Rosenwald was an American merchant born in Springfield, Illinois, on August 12, 1862. Mr. Rosenwald became president of Sears, Roebuck & Company in 1909. He was a very wealthy man who supported many charities. The Julius Rosenwald Fund was established to better the conditions for black people through education. The fund contributed to the construction of more than 5,000 schools for black people in fifteen southern states. Mr. Rosenwald died in Chicago on January 6, 1932.

The town of Princeton was named for Joseph Wilson Prince when the railroad came through: The school was eventually called Princeton-Rosenwald.

Mr. James Collins became principal in 1928. A fund was started during this time to build a teachers’ cottage. The house was built in 1933 under the administration of Mrs. Signora Carter.

Mrs. Ruby Fuller Foster lives in Princeton. It was her Great Grandfather George Fullwood, Sr., who sold the one acre of land for Princeton School. She said her Great Grandfather was a farmer, and he died in 1915. Mrs. Foster attended the Rosenwald School from 1932 to 1935. The nearest black high school in the parish was in Benton, and it was called the Bossier Parish Training School. She attended there from 1935 to 1939. She lived in Benton with relatives while attending school, and one school term she lived in the dormitory there for $8 a month. Mrs. Foster said she only got to come home at Easter and Christmas to see her parents because it was too far to travel, and they had little transportation back then. She remembers picking cotton in the summer for 60c for a hundred pounds. She used this money to buy her school clothes.

Mr. Walter H. Martin came to Princeton-Rosenwald in 1940 as a teacher and principal. It was still a four-room school with three teachers. They had a 7-month school term. Mr. Martin remembers teaching sixth and seventh grades with 25-30 children in a classroom. Mr. Martin played a very important part in getting a new school built.

An article from the Bossier Banner newspaper, dated June 9, 1955, said the Bossier Parish School Board approved the building of a new Princeton School. It was built by Belcher & Son of Shreveport for the cost of $132,900.

It was to consist of 16 classrooms and necessary offices. Building plans were made by Thomas Merideth, Bossier City architect. It was to be completed in 200 days.

The dedication of the new school, which was called Princeton High School, was held on April 26, 1956. (A copy of the dedication program is attached.) The school had two brick classroom buildings for grades one through twelve. There was a vocational agriculture building, a canning center, a music center, a visual aid room, two teachers’ cottages, a one-thousand seating capacity gymnasium-auditorium, a lighted athletic field, and a 5,000-gallon water supply tower. There were now thirty teachers and a nine-month school term.

The school colors were green and white, and they were called the Dragons. They won many football, basketball, and track championships. Princeton High School published yearbooks, which very few other black schools did.

Mrs. Francille Brown went to work at the Princeton High School Cafeteria in September 1956. She retired after 36 years there. She also attended school at Princeton-Rosenwald. She remembers meeting Mr. Julius Rosenwald one time when he visited their school when she was a little girl. Her Great Aunt was Mrs. Susan Copeland Edwards, the first teacher at the first school at Wesley Chapel.

Mr. Alfoncie Larkins attended Princeton High School and graduated from there. He is our school custodian today and has worked at the school for 26 years. Mr. Larkins and Mr. Levester Ashley drew and painted a picture of the old schools when 0they were in about eighth grade. The picture may still be seen at the school today.

There were 713 children enrolled in grades one through twelve on September 6, 1956. Everyone I talked to had good memories of the time they spent at Princeton.

There was a new building wing added to the school in 1961. Our present administration wing was added in 1974. The United States started to integrate schools in the 1960s. In 1968 and 1969, students at Princeton High School were offered the Freedom of Choice System. Students who wanted to integrate could. There were approximately 50 students during this time who volunteered to attend the Haughton School.

Mr. C. M. Adkins was an assistant principal at Haughton School in the spring of 1970. He told me that on February 2, 1970, Princeton High School was closed because of court ordered integration. Students in grades one through six from Princeton were placed in Platt School. Students in grades seven through twelve went to Haughton High School. The Princeton teachers also moved along with their students. He said the students at Haughton still maintained separate classrooms until later that fall.

The students were sad that they had to leave their school. The senior class was able to hold their graduation ceremony at Princeton High School in May 1970. They were the last graduating class of Princeton High School. During the time that Princeton School was closed, it was being repainted and fixed up. There was a new floor put in the gym, dressing rooms were added, and the old band building was torn down. The office area was located facing the area that is the teachers’ parking lot today. Princeton School reopened in September of 1970. Grades four through seven attended. Mr. C. M. Adkins was the principal, and Mrs. Glenda Moreland was his secretary.

Some of the teachers came back to Princeton, some stayed at Haughton, and some stayed at Platt. Mr. Walter Martin, the former principal, had been appointed to a position at the Bossier Parish School Board. He retired from that position in 1980.

The grades that have attended Princeton over the years have sometimes changed due to the number of students in the classes each year. At times, it has been four through

seven, five through eight, or six through eight. The principals who have served Princeton School are:

Mr. Walter H. Martin (1940-1970), Mr. C. M. Adkins (T970-1986), Mr. Boyce Hensley (1987-1988), and Mr. Ron Gormanous. (1989-Present).

Since September 1970, we have been known as the Princeton Pirates. Our school colors are green and gold. The 1995 enrollment is 830 students attending in grades six through eight.

I have learned a lot about my school in writing this report. I am proud to attend Princeton Middle School!

BIBLIOGRAPHY Encyclopedia

Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., “Rosenwald, Julius”, Encyclopedia Britannica, 1955, page 557.

Newspaper

Bossier Banner, Bossier City, La., June 9, 1955, page 3f. Interviews

Mr. C. M. Adkins Mr. James Bell

Mrs. Francille Brown Mrs. Willie Dennis

Mrs. Ruby Fuller Foster Mr. Alfoncie Larkins Mr. Bill Little Mr. Billy Magum Mr. W. H. Martin Mrs. Ruby Lee Moore

Princeton High School History – Shreveport Sun article, May 1964

The Princeton High School had its beginning, early in 1900, on the estate of the late Rev. John Hawkins. Mrs. Susan Copeland Edwards served as its first teacher. The school term then lasted only three months. Because of their interest and the felt need, parents of the children paid for an additional one or two months of schooling as they were able and extended the term. In addition, the school site changed to the various communities in order to serve all of the children at one time or another. Among the pioneering families were the Elbert Fullers, John Jacksons, Aaron Hawkins, John Wagners and Louis W. Winfields.

 

A permanent site was purchased in 1910 and a one room frame building was erected. Gradually the enrollment increased, and the term lengthened. Finally, a school that had been located on the Ealy farm was combined with this one, in order to make application for the Rosenwald funds. In 1919, it opened its session as a Rosenwald school with four teachers, a six-month term and Mrs. L.M. Cash Harris as principal.

Through the plans of Mr. James Collins who came as principal in 1928 a teachers’ cottage fund was started. These plans materialized in 1933 under the administration of Mrs. Signora Carter.

Since 1940 the school has been directed and supervised in its rapid growth under the principalship of Walter H. Martin. During these years it has grown from a four-teacher elementary school to a school plant comprising two modern brick class room buildings for grades one through twelfth, a vocational agriculture building, a canning center, a music center, a visual aid room, two teachers’ cottages, a one thousand seating capacity gymnasium-auditorium, a well-lighted athletic field, and a 5,000-gallon water supply tower. Its curriculum, which is now directed by thirty teachers, has been enriched and includes industrial arts, music and business education. The school enjoys a nine-month term.

Mr. W.A. Fortson and Mr. R.V. Kerr have served as parish school superintendents during the school’s brief history, growth and development. Our sincere gratitude goes to the administration and its supervisory staff, the numerous teachers and patrons who have so nobly served the school’s ends.