Piney Woods Country Life School
|Piney Woods Country Life School|
|Piney Woods, MS
|Motto||Head, Heart, & Hands|
|President||Dr. Reginald T. W. Nichols|
|Campus||Township, 2,000 acres (8.1 km2)|
The Piney Woods Country Life School (or The Piney Woods School) is a co-educational independent historically African-American boarding school for grades 9-12 in Piney Woods, unincorporated Rankin County, Mississippi. It is 21 miles (34 km) south of Jackson. It is one of four remaining historically African-American boarding schools in the United States. It is currently the largest African-American boarding school, as well as being the second oldest continually operating African-American boarding school.
The Piney Woods School was founded in 1909 by Laurence C. Jones. Jones added the Mississippi School of the Blind for Negroes in the early 1920s, and in 1929, with the arrival of Martha Louise Morrow Foxx serving as principal, the Mississippi Blind School for Negroes was founded at Piney Woods. The school eventually moved to an urban location in Jackson, Mississippi.
Piney Woods was where the International Sweethearts of Rhythm were formed, by Jones, in 1937. The band included jazz musician Helen Jones, the daughter of the school's founder. Other bands associated with the school included the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi and the Cotton Blossom Singers. Beginning in the 1930s the school also sponsored baseball teams as part of the fund-raising efforts.
The school was presided over for more than 60 years by Jones, until 1974 when Dr. James S. Wade became the second president. Charles Beady led the school for more than 20 years, and today the school is presided over by Dr. Reginald T.W. Nichols.
In 1954 Jones appeared on the This Is Your Life television show. During the show the host asked viewers to each send in $1 to support the school, eventually raising $700,000, with which Jones began the schools' endowment fund, reported to be at $7,000,000 when Jones died in 1975.
Since then the school has conducted a number of notable publicity and fundraising activities. A variety of speakers have spoken at the school, including George Washington Carver, LeRoy T. Walker and Mike Espy. Wynton Marsalis played a benefit performance for the school in 1994, as well.
Today the curriculum at Piney Woods combines strict discipline, Christian teaching and chores with classroom instruction. More than 98 percent of Piney Woods' graduates go on to attend colleges, including Spelman College, Morehouse College, Xavier University, Rice University, Howard University, Xavier University of Louisiana, Princeton University, the University of Chicago, University of the South, Smith College, Harvard University, Vassar College, Tufts University, University of California at Los Angeles, University of Maryland, and Amherst College.
The Piney Woods campus is located 21 miles (34 km) southeast of Jackson, Mississippi. It sits on 2,000 acres (8.1 km2) of rolling hills, forest, open fields and lakes. Funded by donations and a significant endowment, the school houses 300 high school students in grades 9 through 12 from more than 20 states, Mexico, the Caribbean and several African nations. The self-sufficient campus includes a post office, a farm, athletic fields, chapel and amphitheater.
Notable alumni and faculty
- Socrates Garrett of Garrett Enterprises
- Helen Jones Woods
- Grace Morris Allen Jones, wife of Laurence and pioneering African American educator
- Cotton Blossom Singers
- Five Blind Boys of Mississippi
- International Sweethearts of Rhythm
- Yvonne Busch, noted music educator
- Noelle Roe, West Point student and now Army Captain. First African American Military Officer in the state of Colorado.
- Copeland, Larry. "Black private school serves as rural refuge / Discipline and calm helps students flourish." Knight-Ridder Tribune News at the Houston Chronicle. Sunday September 28, 1997. A40. Retrieved on December 2, 2011.
- African-Americans at the University of Iowa
- Handy, A. (1998). The International Sweethearts Of Rhythm: The Ladies Jazz Band From Piney Woods Country Life School. Scarecrow Press.
- Wilson, L.K. "The Singing Baseball Team." Negro Leagues Writings. Retrieved 2/16/08.
- "History", Piney Woods Country Life School. Retrieved 2/16/08.
- "Miracle of Piney Woods - Mississippi school built on faith has rich harvest", Ebony magazine, October 1955, pp. 36-41.
- "The Week in Review", Time magazine. December 27, 1954. Retrieved 2/16/08.
- Schmidt, D.A. (2002) Iowa Pride. Xulon Press. p 209.
- "Helen Jones Woods", TheHistoryMakers.com. Retrieved 2/16/08.
- "Piney Woods: An academic oasis." CBSnews.com. June 29, 2005. Retrieved 2/16/08.
- Mitchell, M.A. (1998) "Black schools bolstered by remarkable gestures," Chicago Sun-Times. March 22, 1998.
- Roach, R. (2003) "A rich, but disappearing legacy: Remembering Black boarding schools: a tradition obscured by desegregation's impact." Black Issues in Higher Education. August 14, 2003.
- (2006) "Piney Woods prepares for centennial by reaching back to alumni", Mississippi Link. Retrieved 2/16/08.
- Piney Woods Country Life School
- Piney Woods Collection (MUM00366) owned by the University of Mississippi.