Central High School (Macon, Georgia)
|Central High School|
2155 Napier Avenue
|Type||Public magnet high school|
|Motto||"We Lead; It Can Be Done"|
|Established||1870, 1913, 1970, 2009|
|School district||Bibb County School District|
|Athletics||Major sports include football, basketball, baseball and soccer|
|Mission statement||"Unique in Our Accomplishments, United to Educate and to Serve Beyond Self"|
Central High School, also known as Central-Macon, Central-Bibb, and Central Fine Arts and International Baccalaureate Magnet High School, is a high school in Macon, Georgia, United States, serving students in grades 9–12. It is a unit of the Bibb County Public School System.
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. The name was changed to Gresham High in the late 1880s, and the school remained open until 1913. The building later served as Gresham Grammar School.
Lanier and Miller
In 1913, the county opened Lanier High School on Forsyth Street, named for poet and Macon native Sidney Lanier. The school split in 1924 into separate schools for boys and girls, with the boys moving to a campus on Holt Avenue, and the girls remaining on Forsyth Street. In 1949, Lanier added a junior high school on Hendley Street.
In 1932, Bibb County opened A.L. Miller Senior High School for Girls, named for Alexander Lawton Miller, on Montpelier Avenue, blocks from Lanier's Holt campus. The original Forsyth Street campus continued to house a junior high school for girls until February 1950, when Miller Junior High School opened next door to Miller Senior High School.
The Lanier Poets won numerous state athletic titles, and became a basketball powerhouse. The school's JROTC program received national honors.
1958 marked a major change for public education in Bibb County, as Willingham and McEvoy High Schools opened for boys and girls, respectively, meaning that for the first time, white students in Bibb County were divided by attendance zones.
Fire and integration
In April 1967, fire destroyed most of the Lanier Senior campus on Holt Avenue. Over the next several years, the school was rebuilt while the senior and middle high schools shared the Hendley Street campus. The new building, opened in December 1968, sat on the former site of Lanier Senior, though it faced Napier Avenue, with side entrances from Holt. Some buildings not destroyed by the fire were incorporated into the new school, including the Vocational Building, JROTC Complex, and "Old Gym" portions of Central High School. The last of those buildings was demolished in 2009 to make way for new Central High School buildings.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Bibb County's schools faced court-ordered integration. The four schools named Lanier and Miller merged to create the Central High School Complex. This fit with Bibb County's new pattern of creating high school-middle school complexes with directional names. Other school complexes created by the mergers included Northeast and Southwest, the latter of which later spun off a new school named Southeast.
In the case of Central, the recently built Lanier Senior building on Napier became known as "Lanier B", while the junior high on Hendley was renamed "Lanier A;" the two shared duty as Central High School. The former Miller Junior High School for Girls became Miller A Jr. High, with the old Miller Senior becoming Miller B Jr. High. They were twin junior high schools, both of them housing both 8th and 9th graders, and serving as the feeder schools to Central, which then housed grades ten, eleven, and twelve. In the 1984-85 school year, the ninth grade was moved to the senior high school, and the two junior high schools became Miller Middle School, with the seventh grade (moved up from the elementary schools) housed in one building and the eighth grade housed in the other.
For the early years of Central, about 1970 to 1975, students remained mostly segregated by sex, with the girls at Lanier A and the boys at Lanier B, with each complex retaining the principals of the girls' and boys' schools. Eventually, girls were allowed to take some courses on the boys' campus (such as physics or German, courses not taught on the girls' campus). Finally, girls and boys were completely integrated in the courses, although their supervisions (homerooms) remained sex-segregated until 1981. By the 1980s, these vestiges of sex-segregation were completely eliminated. Lanier A ultimately housed mostly ninth-grade supervisions, while the upperclassmen were primarily in Lanier B; this arrangement persisted until Lanier A was torn down in 1997.
Following the mergers in 1970, many expressed anger at the outcome; school names, the end of racial/sex segregation, colors, and mascots that had existed for decades were lost and replaced with new, directional names. Lanier ceased to exist.
One development of Bibb County's reorganization of the school district was that the county gained many new private schools. Not all survive, but to this day, Macon has a far larger private school population than similar-sized cities in Georgia (such as Augusta, Columbus, or Savannah).
Central High School
Central High emerged in 1970 as a new school straddling both sides of Hendley Street. Its sports teams were called the Chargers, and it adopted the colors orange (which, along with green, had been Lanier's) and white (blue was added by Coach Simonton in the early 1980s). Both Miller and Central were larger than many middle and high schools at the time (though the Southwest complex was much larger), and faced numerous hardships due to this fact.
1990s and beyond
In 1992, Central began offering courses in preparation for the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB) curriculum; the first exams were given in May 1996. The school began the program as a county-wide magnet program under the guidance of principal Leontine Espy and IB coordinator Elizabeth Hinesley. While the IB program at Central started small, it has grown over the years, and now generally admits 40-60 students as freshmen. Typically, 50-75% of those students remain in the program and sit for examinations at the end of senior year. About half earn the IB diploma while the remainder receive certificates of performance. Both groups often exempt significant college coursework.
Central underwent a major change in 1997 when Westside High and H.G. Weaver Middle opened on Heath Road in the western portion of the county. Many of the higher-income areas that had been in the Miller/Central zone were moved to the new schools, along with parts of the Southwest zone. Westside immediately became the county's largest high school, and the corresponding decrease in enrollment that had been planned for Central meant that the Lanier A building (dating from 1948) would be demolished and replaced with a new Miller Middle School, closer to Central. The new school opened in the fall of 1997.
Despite the loss of so many students to Westside, the existence of the IB, Fine Arts, and JROTC magnet programs continued to draw many students to Central. At the same time, Miller Middle added a core knowledge/cultural literacy magnet program, and created a feeder for Central's magnet programs. Just as they had fifty years before, students from anywhere in Bibb County could attend Miller and Central.
The present and future
Central continues to draw students from across Bibb County. Enrollment numbers have challenged the limits of the former Lanier B building, which shows signs of its age — it has scarcely been renovated since the late 1960s, and some additional outbuildings date from the original 1920s facility. A new Central, possibly including a controversial merger with Southwest, was proposed in a 1998 bond issue and a resulting 1999 SPLOST (special purpose local sales tax), but was never built due to other priorities. An ELOST (educational local option sales tax) passed in September 2005 and had both a new Central and Southwest listed as priorities, as well as a new high school in north Bibb County attached to the newly opened Howard Middle School that is also expected to draw many top students.
On October 30, 2007, a ceremonial groundbreaking was held for the new Central High building, to be constructed on a cleared property across Blackmon Avenue (now closed) from the current location. The new school opened in August 2009 with capacity for 1,000 students. The old building was razed and is now a park.
Traditions and accomplishments
- Central High School, under counselor Dorothy Kraków, is establishing a tradition of winning Gates Millennium Scholarships from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2016, seniors Tamia Middleton and Ira Moore were selected in the final cohort of the Gates Millennium Scholars Program. In 2015, senior Nicole Wiggins was named a Gates Millennium scholar; in 2014, graduating senior Joseph Lofton was named a Gates Millennium scholar; in April 2013, three Central students (Kenya Andrews, Christine Okaro and Ashley Washington) were named; In 2011, Thelron Pleas was named. Only 1000 such students are named nationwide each year.
- The Central High School Orchestra directed by Patricia McCall performs around Macon and also performs annually at the state capital. The orchestra is a perennial "Superior" scorer at Georgia's State Festival. The CHS trio (2005–2008) grew popular around Macon, performed around the state, and helped to promote the fine arts program.
- Central's Sugarbear Band performs at football games as well as in concerts, typically receiving "Superior" rankings at festivals across the state. The group has included jazz and wind ensemble programs and is often the largest student group on campus.
- The school's fight song is "Glory, Glory", in the same arrangement played by the University of Georgia's Redcoat Band. The official alma mater is "Hail to Central", an original work written by Dr. Scott C. Tobias, a former teacher at the school. The band has also from time to time played a rewritten version of "Far Above Cayuga's Waters", a popular alma mater for many schools.
- Central usually leads Bibb County in sending students to Georgia's Governor's Honors Program.
- Central is well represented at The Macon Telegraph's "Golden Eagle" Awards, honoring academic and service leaders.
- The mock trial team won twelve consecutive region titles (1999–2010) before losing to the Middle Georgia Christian Homeschool Association mock trial team, and has been ranked three times in the final four at state competition and once in the final two at the state championship, losing to Henry W. Grady High School.
- The academic bowl team has won four varsity state titles in five years.
- The academic decathlon team has won two state titles.
- The school newspaper, The Central Post, received best-in-state honors for its classification two out of its first four years in existence. In 2007, the Post received the highest score of any newspaper in the state, regardless of classification. Five thousand copies of the paper were circulated through The Macon Telegraph in May 2006 and in December 2007.
Note: This section also includes noteworthy alumni from Lanier and Miller High Schools, which combined in 1970 to form the present Central High School. See the History sections above for more information.
- Samaria (Mitcham) Bailey, first American female of African descent to attend the school; went on to be an entrepreneur; CEO of Med Tech Services, Inc.
- John Morrison Birch, missionary considered by some to be the first victim of the Cold War; the conservative John Birch Society, formed 13 years after his death, is named in his honor
- Neil Callaway, offensive line coach for the USC Trojans
- Jay Carson, advisor to politicians such as Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and Howard Dean
- Manley Lanier "Sonny" Carter, Jr., astronaut and soccer player
- Cecil O. De Loach, Jr., winemaker, viticulturalist, founder of De Loach Vineyards, Sonoma County, California
- Tony Gilbert, University of Georgia and NFL football player for the Atlanta Falcons
- Watts Gunn, golfer
- Bob Hendley, former professional baseball player (Milwaukee Braves, San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs, New York Mets)
- Roger Jackson, football player
- Tom Johnson, former president of CNN and the Los Angeles Times
- Ellamae Ellis League, architect from Macon, first woman FAIA from Georgia
- Carrie Preston, actress (My Best Friend's Wedding, The Legend of Bagger Vance, Person of Interest)
- Bernard Ramsey, Merrill Lynch executive and philanthropist; largest single donor to University of Georgia
- Theron Sapp, University of Georgia and NFL football player
- General Robert Lee Scott, Jr., author of the book God is My Co-Pilot, later made into a film of the same name
- Vernon "Catfish" Smith, All-American football player at the University of Georgia
- Hamp Tanner, football player
- J.T. Thomas, Florida State and NFL football player for the Pittsburgh Steelers
- Ronnie Thompson, first Republican to be elected mayor of Macon; served from 1967–1975; gospel singer
- Coot Veal, former professional baseball player (Detroit Tigers, Washington Senators, Pittsburgh Pirates)
- Alan Walden, co-founder of Capricorn Records; former manager of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Outlaws
- Phil Walden, co-founder of Capricorn Records; manager of Otis Redding and The Allman Brothers Band
- Central High School website
- History of Central/Lanier
- The Macon Telegraph's "Stories of the Century" feature