School Comings & Goings

Welcome To Sanford extends our enthusiastic best wishes to the graduates in the Class of 2020. And we share the disappointment that our area students missed out on the many milestones that make senior year such a fun and memorable time. In this time of “diploma drive-throughs” and online education, our weekly Throwback column turns our attention to some of the area’s notable buildings of higher education. We begin with Sanford’s first public high school, now the Mann Center of North Carolina. This present-day home to live concerts and performances, non-profit community organizations, area artisans and more began its community service in 1925. The building’s central downtown location on Steele Street, made it an ideal focal point for education. When the new high school opened in 1952, this building became Sanford Junior High School, and eventually transitioned to it’s present role.

Of course the 2019-20 school year christened a “new” W.B. Wicker School for elementary school students, so it seems appropriate to revisit the origins of this building on South Vance Street. The Lee County Training School was the original provider of educational opportunities for our community’s African-American children. In 1927 the Vance Street location was built and named the South Sanford Graded School. In 1954, the school was renamed the (original!) W.B. Wicker School, in honor of William Bartelle Wicker, it’s long-time dedicated, much-beloved principal.

Central Carolina Community College has also enjoyed dramatic and consistent growth over the decades. CCCC now has campuses and numerous accredited programs at locations across three North Carolina counties and graduates several hundred students each year. The very first building for CCCC was completed here, just off of Kelly Drive in Sanford, in 1962.

Our final stop on this school-based time travel brings us to one of the many private schools that were commonplace throughout Lee County before the public school system took hold. This is the Jonesboro Academy, which was affiliated with the Jonesboro Methodist Church and served students from the 1870s, into the early 20th century.

Editorial content, pictures and research background, compliments of Jimmy Haire and Images of America: Sanford and Lee County, by Jimmy Haire & W.W. Seymour, Jr, available here for purchase. All book proceeds go to Sanford’s Railroad House Historical Association, Inc.