Baker High School (Columbus, Georgia)
Baker High School (Columbus, Georgia) was built in 1943 in the shadow of Fort Benning, Georgia. It was named for Newton Diehl Baker, Secretary of War during World War I. The first graduates received their diplomas in 1945. Baker High served Columbus and Fort Benning for nearly fifty years, producing graduates who excelled in scholarship, athletics, and the arts. The last class of seniors graduated on June 6, 1991. The Baker name lives on at Baker Middle School a few blocks east on Benning Drive. On May 18, 2013; a historical marker was placed at the site of the former school by the Historic Chattahoochee Commission and the Baker High School Alumni Association.
History and facts
1941 - Muscogee County received a $500,000 appropriation from the Federal government to build a school in rural South Columbus, primarily to serve military families.
1943 - Construction was completed in August and Baker Village School opened on September 13 for grades 1-11. The school was named for Newton D. Baker, Secretary of War (1917–21) under President Woodrow Wilson. To support the war effort, a canning plant was built in the basement for the local “Victory Gardens.” Citizens were allowed to cook, prepare, and can their own vegetables so regular crops could go to the troops. Louise Griner taught Home Economics during the day and ran the cannery at night.
1945 - First edition of the Arrowhead, Baker's yearbook, was published. Its name reflected the heritage of the Muscogee Indians, a tribe of the Creeks, who once lived where Baker stood. Baker’s mascot was the “Indians”.
1948 - Baker changed their mascot to the "Lions".
1950 - Baker switched to a twelve year format. Previously only eleven years were required to graduate.
1954 - Baker won its first state Basketball championship. Other state titles were Basketball in 1956 and Track in 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968 and 1969. Baker athletes were nicknamed the “Blue Jackets.”
1956 - The Band and Chorus rooms were constructed on the west side of the school.
1958 - The last Kindergarten through Sixth Grade classes started at Baker in September. The first enriched or “accelerated” classes were added to the course schedule along with remedial classes. This three-tier grouping of students at Baker was a first in Muscogee County.
1959 - Alice Mae Dennis Chapter of National Honor Society was chartered.
1964 - Baker was the largest school in Georgia with 2,800 students. The "platoon" system was used to accommodate the large numbers. First classes started at 7:45 and the second shift started at 8:45. Classes were held in the gym, library, and storage rooms. Freshmen were bused to the “freshman annex” for classes. Several girls who did not play an instrument in the band were selected as majorettes and the Dandelions were formed.
1965 - The Senior wing, new gym, and cafeteria were constructed creating the courtyard. An official dedication ceremony was held for Baker High School. The first African-American students, Robert Leonard and Larry Smith, were admitted. Robert was remembered for the "Cassius Clay" skit, and for getting one of the loudest rounds of applause at graduation. Larry was on the State Championship-winning track team.
1969 - Donald Ray Johnston '66 was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor "for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty."
1970 - First edition of the Lion's Pride, the new title for Baker's yearbook was published.
1971 - Muscogee County schools were integrated. A boiler fire on March 31 destroyed the auditorium.
1991 - The last Baker High class graduated on June 6. The school was then converted to a middle school.
1999 - Baker Middle School moved to their new campus just down the street. The building is closed.
2010 - Fire destroys much of the freshman wing of the abandoned Baker High School.
2011 - Baker High School is demolished.
2013 - Historic Marker dedicated on May 18.
- Newt Gingrich at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved October 10, 2011
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