School History

 

Brief history of Miller and Lanier high schools

1871

Before the Civil War, the Bibb County Academy was operated as a public school; a county poor student fund paid the tuition for students unable to pay. In 1870, when Georgia established a true public school system, the Bibb County Board of Education and Orphanage was established to operate a school system for the county. The new board created grammar schools in each ward of the city and "The Central High School."
 
1880s
In the 1880s the “Central High School” name was changed to Gresham High.
 
1913
Lanier High School, named for poet and Macon native Sidney Lanier, was established on Forsyth Street. The site, located near downtown Macon, later became known as the Dudley Hughes Building. (The building which later fell into disrepair and was little used, was eventually acquired and restored by the Central Georgia Health System, which operates the Medical Center of Central Georgia. The building has been renamed the Lanier Building.)
 
1924
In September, Lanier Senior High School for boys first opened its doors. Lanier High for boys was established on Holt Avenue on the old Willingham Mill site. The Forsyth Street building became Lanier High for girls.
 
1932
A.L. Miller Senior High School for girls was established on Montpelier Avenue. Lanier for girls on Forsyth Street remained on Forsyth Street as the girls’ junior high school. The photograph at right is an old photograph of the Miller High building, though the stately structure remains little changed and still standing -- though little used.
1948
With increasing enrollments, Lanier Junior High School for boys was built on Hendley Street near Lanier Senior High, and Miller Junior High School for girls was constructed next to Miller High replaced Lanier for Girls on Forsyth Street, which became the Bibb County Vocational Building.
 
1956
With the opening of Willingham for boys and McEvoy for girls, for the first time Miller and Lanier no longer served all of Bibb County.
 
1965
Elton Wall became the first Lanier graduate to return as its principal.
 
1967
On April 17, 1967, Lanier High School burned to the ground. Several youths were later arrested and convicted of arson.
 
1968
The school was rebuilt. During the rebuilding, the senior high boys reported to school on a split day schedule sharing the old Lanier Junior High with the junior high boys.
 
1970
Lanier High School was renamed Central High Complex.

 

Lanier and Miller built traditions of excellence. The Lanier Poets won numerous state athletic titles, and became a basketball powerhouse. The school's JROTC program received national honors as an exemplary unit. Academically, Lanier and Miller grads went on to top colleges across the country.

 

 

Remembering the Civil Rights Movement
By Laura Beal, Sam Grayson, Jessi Kaylor, Chip Reisman, Logan Smith, and Derek Wojcik
 
    Oral history with Virgil Adams
 
The Civil Rights Movement as we think of it today began in 1948 when Truman signed the order demanding equal treatment of all people in the armed services, regardless of race, religion, or national origin. During the Civil Rights Movement, activists faced numerous challenges in their struggle for legal and social equality for black Americans. One of the most important of these challenges was the integration of schools. In order for black Americans to rise out of poverty, they needed an education equal to that of white Americans. “Separate but equal” was not actually equal; the only way to equality was integration. A significant part of Macon’s integration process was the consolidation of A. L. Miller High School and Lanier High School to form Central High School.
 
The integration of Bibb County schools was not an easy process. The schools were integrated under court order. It was a difficult time for all teachers and students, especially those who were accustomed to segregated schools. Several Bibb County schools were put together in three “complexes.” One complex was called Central High School, a merging of Lanier and Miller junior and senior high schools. The school used the Miller junior high school and senior high school buildings as coed junior high schools. The Lanier senior high school building was used for senior high school girls, and the Lanier junior high school was for boys in grades 10 through 12. At a time when segregation was the law of the land, Judge W. A. Bootle decided to go against the status quo and order integration in Bibb County. Several African American students, such as Virgil Adams, integrated into Central High School. His story of the experience speaks volumes about what life was like at the time, and his experience was negative incident. However, for many Bibb County residents, the concept of the merged schools was not a desirable development. Many residents of Bibb County were adamantly opposed to integration and the combining of their children’s schools into places that did not separate their children from children of different races or genders.
 
Perhaps the most telling aspect of Bibb County citizens’ desire to remain segregated was the number of absences on the first day of school in 1970, the first year of integration. Approximately 35% of the students were absent from school, and by the end of the day school officials had not been able to count the total number of absences. Other than that, the first day of school seemed to take place without incident or trouble. Even though all of those students were not at school, those who did attend were able to begin this new system of integrated schooling without causing or encountering problems.
 
The controversial issue was Judge W.A. Bootle’s order to integrate Bibb County schools. In 1961, Bootle ordered the integration of the University of Georgia, and in 1963, he ruled in favor of 44 African American students who sued to be admitted to white schools in Bibb County. By 1970, Judge Bootle ordered the complete integration of Bibb County schools. This order was followed by chaos from the citizens of Bibb County. About 1,500 white students and parents marched on his house and the board of education building with the approval of the county officials. However, Judge Bootle remained firm in his decision of integration, thereby requiring Bibb County schools to meet the integration deadline. While Bibb County elementary schools were to be integrated by February 16, 1970, it was not until August of that year that the high schools were integrated. Bootle did declare, however, that there was to be no interference with the court ordered desegregation plan.
 
Central High School emerged as the complex of Lanier and Miller Junior and Senior High Schools. Miller had been a school for girls, while Lanier had been an all boy school. Upon integration, both junior high schools became co-educational, while the high schools remained separated by sex. It was an interesting transition for the students and the parents. Because the Bibb County complexes were given geographical names (Central, Northeast, Southwest), much of the schools’ individuality appeared to have been taken away. Many aspects of the schools, such as the school colors and mascots were lost. Lanier High School ceased to exist in terms of name and personality. The merging of the schools created some tensions within the community due to the fact that decades of traditions were lost. The merging of the races and the sexes was not a minor issue.
 
 In 1913, the Bibb County Board of Education opened Lanier High School on Forsyth Street in Downtown Macon. The school was named after a famous local poet, Sidney Lanier. In 1924, Lanier Senior High School for boys opened off of Holt Avenue and the Forsyth Street high school remained Lanier Senior High school for the girls up until 1932. In 1932, A. L. Miller Senior High school for girls opened, and after that, the Forsyth street Lanier was for junior high school girls. A junior high school for boys was established as well in 1948 due to increasing numbers in students. Also, in 1948, Miller Junior High School for girls opened near Miller Senior School and Lanier Junior High School for girls became the Bibb County Vocational Building. Up until 1956, Lanier and Miller where the only high schools in Bibb County. In April of ’67, Lanier Senior High was destroyed by a fire, which was later determined arson, and some youths were charged with the crime. Lanier High School was rebuilt in 1968.
 
A. L. Miller High School, named for the former mayor of Macon, Alexander Lawton Miller, was opened on Montpelier Avenue in 1932. It started out as an all-girl school. Along with Lanier High School, an all boy school, Miller was one of two high schools serving all of Bibb County, until Willingham opened for boys and McEvoy opened for girls in 1958. Miller was an all-white school, and existed without any issues until desegregation. Miller B Middle School remained open until the mid 2000s, and was then shut down. Since then, it has been used as a training ground for the Macon police, and there are tentative plans to renovate the building and make it into either an apartment complex or a school administration building, as the structure of the school is still stable.
 
 During the late 1960 and early 1970’s, there was a lot of turmoil involving the U.S. Supreme Court’s notion to fully integrate schools by February 1970. Judge William A. Bootle ruled that all schools had to do in order to form a “unitary” school system was transfer teachers around the county. He was corrected by the Fifth Circuit Court ruling that said “no” to his teacher frenzy and re-implemented the full integration of schools. The Bibb County Board of Education’s plan would have to be changed. This called for the creation of four school complexes named by their directional placement. Central High School would be consolidated with Miller and Lanier, both junior high and senior high schools for both. The Miller buildings would be used as coed junior high school buildings. The Lanier buildings would be non-coed senior high buildings and would serve as the “new” Central High School. For the County to implement such a large scaled plan in such a small time was very stressful. Board members worked weekends and nights to get the details smoothed out. Allan Gurley, who was the assistant Bibb County school superintendent in the ‘70s said,” The task for assigning students to new schools normally takes all summer.”
 
The court ruling called for a new zoning plan on all levels of education. The resulting schools were made by combining the existing schools into new ones based on geographical zoning. These schools were named Northeast High School, Southwest High School, and Central High School. Northeast High School was made by combining Appling Senior High School and Junior High School with Lassiter. Southwest High School was composed by joining Ballard Senior High School and Junior High School and Hudson Senior High School and Junior High School. Central High School came about through the joining of Miller Senior High School and Junior High School with Lanier Senior High School and Junior High School. The merging of schools into new complexes was met with some resistance by parents and students.
 
Virgil Adams was among the first African American students to attend Central High School. When he learned that he was zoned for the newly-integrated high school, he had some reservations about attending. Some of his friends who were also zoned for Central High School talked about transferring so they could continue to go to school with their old friends at Ballard High School, but it was not a serious idea. His mother told him to go to school, learn everything that he could, to do the best that he could, and to behave himself while he was there.
 
The integration experience at Central High School was not the same as some of the more publicized integrations of the time. There were no “racial incidents” that occurred. The black students, he said, often congregated among themselves, but there was not really any racial tension. Some other schools in the nation that were integrating around the same time were much more publicized for the hostility shown in the community. There were cases in other cities where the National Guard was called in for support, and where the students faced opposition from other students, Mr. Adams was pleased that he was to not be involved in that type of situation.
 
Mr. Adams reflected on the experiences he had at Central High School and what he gained from those experiences. The most important thing he gained from his time at Central High School was the friendships that he would not have otherwise made. It was the first time that he was around white students, and it was the first time that they were around black students. He was glad that he had been to a school where he was the minority, because he did not suffer from culture shock when he got into law school. He insisted that he had a normal high school experience, and that it was a good one. He never faced any racial issues from the white students in his school, and he made many white friends. He recalled some problems that arose around their prom, because of things like music, but nothing serious that they ended up working out fairly easily. Virgil Adams is now a partner in the law firm Adams and Jordan. He attributes much of his success to his high school experience because he learned how to interact with people that were different from him, which prepared him for the real world.
 
The history of Central High School is one that is extremely important in Macon, Georgia. The Central High School Complex contained more than just Central High School. It also contained Miller Middle School, which served as a feeder school for Central High School. In the early years of Central High School, the school remained segregated by sex, as it had been previously for Lanier (boys) and Miller (girls). Eventually, the school became sexually integrated, although homerooms remained segregated by sex until 1981.
 
In 1992, Central began offering courses in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IB). This program allows high school students to earn credit for a significant amount of college coursework. The program at Central High Schools has become a county-wide magnet program. The IB program at Central High School generally now accepts somewhere between 40 and 60 students as freshmen each year, with 50-70% remaining in the program throughout their high school career.
 
According to the 2000 census, the city of Macon is 35.46 percent white and 62.45 percent black. As of 2009, Central High School is 12.8 percent white and 81.8 percent black. Central High School has fallen into re-segregation, just as the rest of the Bibb County school system has, with the exception of a few magnet schools, and just as a staggering number of school systems nationwide have. This is due to the tendency of poor blacks to gather in low income areas, and for middle class whites to cluster together and send their children to suburban or private schools. One major goal of integration was to have schools with equally dispersed demographics, or at least the same race ratio as that of the area. In that sense, integration was not successful at Central High School, or in Macon. To accomplish an equal ratio would require radical changes to the school system.
 
Academically, Central High School is successful relative to other schools in the district, but does not perform as well as the state average. Central High School is known for its IB program, but only a small percentage of students participate in the program. Test scores, to an extent, can be used to measure a school’s success. The general pattern for End of Course Testing (EOCT) performance is for Central High School to perform slightly better than the district as far as percent passing, but slightly below the state passing percentage, though there are several instances in which the state far outshines both Central High School and the Bibb County district.
 
While the consolidation forming Central High School was a fairly complex ordeal, it was non violent and relatively peaceful. The consolidation was a success at the time, but the consolidation, and integration in Bibb County all together, has failed to a large extent. Social segregation has caused lopsided demographics within the school system. Until Central High School has a race ratio that either mirrors the race ratio of Bibb County or is closer to a one to one ratio than the county race ratio, integration and the consolidation of A. L. Miller High School and Lanier High School into Central High School cannot be considered a complete success.
 
Works Cited Adams, Virgil. Personal Interview. 20 April 2011.Bellury, Reg. “Bibb’s High School System Merges Into 3 Complexes.” Macon Telegraph. Feb. 1970. 2A. Print. Bellury, Reg. “Edict Designates Boards’ Plans.” Macon Telegraph. Feb. 1970. 1A+. Print.“Brief history of Miller and Lanier high schools.” Class Creator. Lanier/Miller Graduates, n.d. Web. 2 May 2011.Central High School (Macon, Georgia). Wikipedia. N.p. 20 March 2011. Web. 17 April 2011.“Central High School.” School Digger. School Digger. n.d. Web. 2 May 2011. “Civil Rights Timeline.” Info Please. Information Please, Pearson Education. n.d Web. 2 May 2011.“‘Girls of Courage’ Recall Desegregation in Bibb.” 13wmaz. 13wmaz, 5 March 2011. Web. 2 May 2011.Knight, John. “Bibb Works to Meet Feb. 16 Court Deadline.” The Macon Telegraph. February      1970. 1A+. Print. “Macon City, Georgia Statistics and Demographics (US Census 2000).” Area Connect. Area connect. n.d. Web. 2 May 2011.“2008 Places in Peril: A. L. Miller Senior High School for Girls.” Georgia Trust. The Georgia Trust. N.d. 2 May 2011.