This week the Georgia Historical Society highlights the newest Georgia Historical Marker, Hart County Training School (HCTS) in Hartwell, Georgia. In consideration of social distancing precautions, the marker’s sponsors, Hart County Historical Society, Harty County Historical Recognition Sponsor Group, Inc., and Hart County Training School, are participating in a virtual rollout of the historical marker to correspond with a privately held, in-person marker dedication.
This week we will share blog posts examining the HCTS, the students and faculty of the school, and the Rosenwald School Building Program. In today’s guest blog post, Loretta King, of the Hart County Training School Historical Recognition Sponsor Group, Inc. and HCTS class of 1966 graduate, reflects on her time spent at HCTS as a student.
As students, we received a good education at Hart County Training School. Amazingly, our schoolteachers were highly educated. They educated us academically, taught us many social skills, and gave us career instructions. We owe a debt of gratitude to our teachers, principals, and support staff.
In 1921, Mr. M. C. Fant was principal of the Hartwell Colored School, which is believed to be the school non-white students attended until a new building was built. The school was in poor condition. After urging from the African-American community, the Board of Aldermen decided to build a new school.
The African-American community pledged $1,200 cash and labor, and the Julius Rosenwald School Building Fund also provided funding. The new school faced Rome Street and opened in the fall of 1924 with four or five classrooms, a workroom, domestic science room, and a 300-seat auditorium.
Many African-American schools in the South trained students in academics and provided life skills. Classes included Brick Laying/Masonry, Cement Work, Carpentry, Agriculture, Cooking, Sewing, Handicraft and Music. To graduate, female students had to make a garment, and male students had to make a piece of furniture.
Students living in the city walked to school, and students living in rural areas boarded weekdays with a family near the school. If rural students were needed at home, they walked 10 or more miles to school after doing early morning chores on the farm and the same in the afternoon.
Students gathered wood to heat the school in the winter. Lunch was cooked in the lunchroom, but students had to provide their own dish and spoon to eat with. Later students had to bring their lunch, often times using buckets.
Students enjoyed operettas, debates, chorus, basketball, plays, and field trips. They competed with other schools. Until the money was provided to build a gymnasium, for many years, students played basketball outside.
Teachers, students, and parents highly regarded baccalaureate and graduation. Reverend Martin Luther King, Senior gave the Baccalaureate sermon for our school in May of 1936.
The new school building, built in 1955-1956, faced Richardson Street. It is now Ninth District Opportunity Hart County Headstart. The 1955 class was the last graduating class from the old school building facing Rome Street.
James Brown and his band played at the Junior Senior Prom in 1956. The school’s first Science Fair was held on April 3, 1959. In 1969, there were two Valedictorians and two Salutatorians. The faculty hosted programs each year honoring Teacher of the Year. In 1970, Mrs. Charlie Wilborn Cobb was honored as the last Teacher of the Year. Many graduates became teachers and returned to educate students, leaving a lasting impact in their community.
We will never forget our time at Hart County Training School and we still carry lessons learned with us. Our dear Alma Mater may have closed, but never in our hearts.
Explore the links below to learn more about Hart County Training School: