With school bells ringing again, it seems like a good time to revisit some earlier examples of schools and associated buildings in the area. 2018 is the 40th anniversary of fundamental changes in Lee County’s school structure. 1978 was the year when county’s 4 community-based high schools merged to create the new Lee County Senior High School. Our first picture is from Greenwood High’s senior class officers from 1976 — near the end of this community school’s tenure.
Prior to the merger, the county was home to Sanford Central, Greenwood, Deep River and Broadway high schools. Here’s a look at the school in Broadway. It was built in 1926 and located right on Main Street. Sadly, this version of the school was lost to fire on January 3, 1963.
Our next picture is of the Sanford Graded School. This private school was a leading source of education for our area in the first part of the 20th century. It was located at the corner of Steele and Carthage streets and operated between 1906 and 1925. When the school was sold at public auction in 1925, its final graduating class held their ceremony at the brand new Sanford High School.
Around this same time, our African-American children were being educated at the South Sanford Graded School, a 2-story, 5-classroom structure. This school was on Washington Street. In 1924, a new principal, William B. Wicker arrived at the school and the new school was constructed in 1927 (and named in Principal Wicker’s honor in 1954). The county’s newest elementary school, also named in honor of Principal Wicker, will open on the same spot in fall 2019.
Our final stop takes us down the road to Jonesboro Heights, where students attended the Jonesboro Graded School. The community built a brick building for its children in 1911 to replace the original framed building. Here’s a look at the school in 1935. In 1952 older Jonesboro students began attending the new Sanford Central High School.
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.