The Spring Hill School
Spring Hill Mississippi 1870
In about 1928, the community decided that a larger school building was needed. They tore down the two teacher school and constructed a building to accommodate three teachers, an auditorium, and coat rooms. This building housed grades 1 through 9 and the school term was 6 months.
Parents and patrons of the school were determined to provide the best educational opportunities as possible for the children. Community leaders were aware of educational agencies that would provide teachers for rural communities. One of the programs they wanted was a vocational program headed by a Vocational Agriculture Teacher. This was possible under the Smith-Hughes Act of 1917. In 1932, the trustees of the Spring Hill School convinced the county superintendent of education to provide this teacher.
The vocational agriculture teacher had a greater impact on improving the educational program than anything prior to 1932. He worked with the farmers in increasing the yields of cotton, corn, and improving cattle and hog production. During this time, all households in the community adopted a live-at-home program with emphasis on producing and preserving food for the family. The first agriculture teacher was Mr. I.H. Montgomery.
In 1936, still striving for better educational opportunities for its youth, the Spring Hill Community established a high school. The school trustees, backed by the community, hired Mr. C.H. Dukes as principal and vocational agriculture teacher with the understanding that a high school building for grades 1 through 12 would be constructed. Up to that time, there had never been a high school anywhere in MontgomeryCounty for black girls and boys.
Principal Dukes and the trustees organized the community for constructing the building, equipping the school, and hiring the necessary teachers. Money had to be provided for this project. The community set out to raise as much of the needed funds as possible. The school trustees, being men of trust and dependability, were able to borrow enough money to supplement what the community had already raised.
A head carpenter was hired and all other labor was provided by the community. The material for the job was bought and placed on the grounds. The building was completed and equipped by mid-September 1936, in time for the opening of school.
In addition to the cost of the building, the parents had to pay tuition to help offset operational expenses. Teachers' salaries had to be supplemented, and in fact, the full salaries had to be paid for two months because Montgomery County would not provide an eight month school term for lack boys and girls. Parents had to buy teaching materials and textbooks for their children.
The school continued to grow. The first graduating class was in 1938, and consisted of five members. All five graduates entered Alcorn A&MCollege (Alcorn State University) in Lorman, Mississippi, the the Fall of 1938. In the early years of the Spring Hill School, the county did not provide public transportation for black boys and girls. Some children had to walk as far as 4 miles to school one way. During the 1940's. a private bus system was set up to provide transportation for some of the children. Of course, the parents of the children had to pay for this service.
During the late 1940's under the administration of Principal F.A. White, several smaller schools were consolidated with Spring Hill School. In addition, plans were made to bus high school students form Duck Hill to Spring Hill.
The Spring Hill Vocational School had always managed to have a good basketball team. However, the transfer of high school students from Duck Hill made the team much more competitive. Many district and state tournaments were won by this team. It might also be noted that Spring Hill was the only school in the area with a gymnasium. It was built by the community during the administration of Principal F.A. White. Three elementary classrooms were also included in the structure.
Spring Hill Vocational School had a very good academic program. The faculty was made up primarily of college graduates and above. This was not the case in most black schools of the area during this period. As a result, the percentage of high school graduates electing to attend college was unusually high.
The Mississippi Minimum School Foundation Act of 1954 required the consolidation of schools in a district. This responsibility was placed on the school district Superintendent and the school board. The Montgomery County School consolidation plan stipulated the closure of all black schools in the county system and the construction of a new school plant at Kilmichael. The plan was later revised to leave the elementary school (grades 1-8) at Duck Hill.
During this transition period, what happened to the Spring Hill School property? Originally, in the planning and building of Spring HillSchool, the land for the school was deeded to the Spring Hill School trustees and their successors. When the school was closed by the Montgomery County School Board of Education at the end of the 1959-1960 school year, the board became the successor of the Spring HillSchool property.
The school property was put up for auction. The School Board deeded the Spring Hill Community Development Club the shop building along with 1.7 acres of land. The gym was torn down by the School Board and moved to Duck Hill Elementary School to build a school house. The main school building was sold to Alfred Harrison. The green teacher home was sold to Lee Dunn along with one (1) acre of land. The white siding teacher home was sold to Mrs. Charity Shelton McCuiston along with (1) acre of land, the remaining sixteen (16) acres were sold to Dewey Townsend.
The friends and patrons of the Spring Hill Vocational High School were deeply shocked when the school closed in 1960. It served well for 90 years. The school had touched the minds and hearts of many boys and girls. The graduates and students who attended Spring Hill Vocational School are serving well in many parts of the United States of America. Thanks to the leaders of Spring Hill for VISION.