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Public Schools — Pass Christian
PC Minutes Book – May 5, 1877 to December 19, 1893
The Town was incorporated on February 21, 1848, following a previous incorporation attempt in 1838, that had not been properly pursued. Proof of incorporation was found on page 499 – Minutes of May 6, 1890. Conflagrations in the downtown area may have been the cause for loss of early Town Records. The first fire mentioned was in 1877, with another downtown fire on January 23, 1908, that had consumed several buildings, including the roof of the City Hall.
Public School History
as extracted from some existing Pass Christian Minute Books
On July 16, 1883, Education Superintendent C.C. Lancaster leased from Hugh Fitzpatrick, the “Hotel Kitchen,” a brick building that was put into service as the white schoolhouse for $7.50 per month.
[The 1887-88 Town minutes showed significant activity in public works with the provision for drainage ditches, road bridge repairs, and hauling and spreading shells on principal roads. The other priority was the monitoring of education matters which required monthly reporting from the two separate School Boards of Trustees, one Black, the other White.]
On September 15, 1887, a separate corporation was authorized (probably by the State of Mississippi) to create a Pass Christian School District consisting of two schools, one Black and one White with three trustees appointed for each school system. The Trustees were responsible for hiring teachers and supervising the maintenance of the schools as well as student welfare.
Appointed Trustees were Nicholas Bohn, C.M. Bisbee, and S.M. Thornton to the White School system. And, J.M. Harvey, A. Howard, and George D. Bonner were appointed Black School Trustees. (There was no mention of racial determination for the Trustees, but it appears that they were divided by racial makeup.)
The Black school Trustees hired John H. Dale as Principal at $60 per month. Louis Henry a teacher at $25 per month, William Howard at $20 per month. Howard was later replaced by Mrs. J. Richardson in October 1888.
The White School Trustees hired R.W. Jones as principal/teacher for $60 per month with 36 students enrolled. In April 1888, the White school trustees were replaced for not conducting meetings and having no reportings to the City council.
A survey of educable school children within the city limits was instituted in January 1888. A house to house canvas resulted in 630 educable children aged 5 to 21. In addition, 45 who lived outside the town limits but proximate to Pass Christian schools, were made eligible for enrollment. Many of whom were already enrolled.
The White School report of June 5, 1888, showed 46 students at the beginning of the school year, but had dropped to 18 near the end of the year. Average daily attendance was 13. For September 1888, Miss Rosa Baldwin was appointed White School Teacher/Principal at $60 per month, with 18 students enrolled.
The new White School Trustees were H.B. Beeman, Lewis H. Champlin, and S.M. Thornton. Black School Trustee appointees were Alex Howard, G.D. Bonner, and Louis Pratt.
The Black School reported 141 students with and average monthly attendance of 107. Room partitions were requested to divide the classroom into four units.
In November 1890, the White School Trustees appointed John C. Leger as Teacher-Principal, with Irene O’Connor as Assistant. The Town Hall was used for classrooms. The Black School Trustees included Lewis, Sinclair, and A. Howard. John Dale was replaced as principal by William A. Howard. (The apparent reason was that,) Students had dropped to 66, with an average attendance of 38 per month.
On May 5, 1891, Allen Covington became the first Black student to be expelled from school.
In September 1891, the Black School Trustees were Louis Pratt, J.A. Raffels, and M. Collins. They hired J.W. Randolph as Principal, with L.C. Henry as Teacher.
Following the tradition of their father, Frank, young Fred Sutter was contracted to build the new white school located at Second and Clark streets on July 15, 1890.
In September 1891, the White schoolhouse was completed and it was insured for three years for a total of $1,250.00. White School Trustees were K.L.Thornton, Charles Kohler, and W.A. Terrell. They hired John C. Leger as Principal-Teacher and Susie C. Bisbee as Assistant. In January 1892, there were 44 white students were enrolled.
In June 1892, the White school enrollment had increased to 60 students with an average daily attendance of 38. A new fence was put around the new school house.
In September 1892, the White School Trustees were Rod McIntosh, C.A. Simpson, and Charles Kohler. They were soon replaced by J. Murphy, A.K. Northrop, and C.A. Simpson, followed by replacements with E.J. Herran and C. Smith.
The Black School Board of Trustees were M. Collins, L. Pratt, and R. Morgan.
On June 6, 1893, the White school board appointed D.D. Lancaster as principal. There were 38 boys and 19 girls enrolled.
Eighty-three students and teachers stand or sit on front stair entrance as shown in 1904 photo
Minute Book (2) covers the period from August 6, 1907 to May 3, 1915
Minutes for December 24, 1893 to August 5, 1907 are missing.
[Note: It appears from reading the minutes that the two separate school systems of Black and White had been eliminated and that all School Board Trustees were apparently Caucasian. All conduct of school business in this Minute Book reflects primarily on Trustee appointments and the new White highschool located on Scenic Drive at Hiern Avenue where City Hall now stands.]
The Tax Report of September 3, 1907, showed that the city millage was 10 mills with a stated valuation of $11,330.12. In addition, a special 2 mills had been levied on real estate, purposes for building a new White highschool, of which, D.J. Haire was the contractor. Mr. and Mrs. A. Aschaffenburg donated a drinking fountain to the new school. The Progressive League (similar to a Chamber of Commerce) donated a bell to the new school building later in the year. John H. Lang was the contractor to build the school yard fence in September 17, 1907.
(That school building was located where City Hall now stands. Educational use of it was terminated in 1937, and it was razed in 1970, following Hurricane Camille. A new White public school had been built at Second Street and Church Avenue to accommodate elementary through highschool grades. The first highschool graduating class at the new school was on May 28, 1937.)
Note: An unresolved question is -- "Why was the school facility vacated after only 30 years of use for education -- yet remained standing for another 33 years. What was the rationale in building a new school at Second Street -- replacing a 4-story brick building?"
On December 3, 1907, the Cumberland Tel & Tel Co. was requested to install phones at the Town Hall and the public schools.
On April 7, 1908, A.J. Demetz was appointed a school trustee.
On August 4, 1908,. Mrs U.C. DeMetz purchased the buildings located behind the new highschool on Second Street.
H.N. Smith and A.P. Saucier were appointed School Board Trustees.
Negro School Development
[An extract from Deed Book #78, page 460, dated November 24, 1906, shows that the Free Mission Baptist Church Trustees, Joseph Manual, Judge Marshall, and Louis Fulchin sold a lot measuring 50-feet wide by 110-feet deep to the Christian Aid Association for $150. The boundaries were fronting on the L&N railroad right-of-way running north to Mary A. Hart’s property, east by Mrs. Margaret Fitzpatrick property and west by an alley. It appears that it was the lower left corner of the sketch shown herein, and without further deliberation may have been an earlier school house before the larger building was constructed as shown in the large square as copied from a 1920's plat sketch.]
On May 4, 1909, the Christian Aid Society building was leased for $5 per month and used as a Black school.
On June 1, 1909, the school Trustees submitted a budget of $6000 for the 1909-1910 June 27, 1909, term.
(The minutes stopped distinguishing between Black and White School Trustees indicating that there was probably just one School Board operating both school systems.)
On March 1, 1910, B.S. Stanley requested use of the old White school house at 2nd and Clark streets to be remodeled as a theater.
On April 5, 1910, FL Patenotte and JE Hanson were reappointed to new terms as School Trustees.
The 1910 fiscal year ending was on September 30. Tax collections on real and personal property had grown to $7,261.95, with total revenues collected as $12,696.62. The School Fund revenues were $6,976.61.
George P. Brandt was appointed School Trustee for 3 years to replace AJ Demetz.
On May 2, 1911, the old White school building was rented for one year to S.L. Taylor on condition that he paint the building, put a fence around it and pay $12 per month in order to operate a moving picture show which begain on May 1, 1911.
E.J. Adam was appointed to the School Trustee position vacated by AP Saucier.
H.W. Smith and E.J. Adams were reappointed School Trustees.
Bids for a slate roof and a heating system were authorized for advertisement for the White highschool.
On August 4, 1914, the insurance policy was renewed on the piano at the Black highschool. On January 4, 1915, F. Andressen was appointed to School Trustee to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of FL Patinotte.
[Some of the following information was taken from Ronnie Caire’s History of Pass Christian, since he had access to seemingly non-existant Minute Books covering 1915 to 1940, that are no longer at City Hall.]
In 1928, public school attendance for the month was 153 White enrollments and 237 Black students. A Library facility was established for the Black school with $120 of funds derived from the School Board, parents, and a private grant.
J.W. Randolph died in 1928. He was replaced by C.M. Greene who took charge of installing the highschool classes and upgrading the curriculum.
In 1930, the Black community responded with donations to compliment the gift of $348.54 from the Randolph Estate. With the raised money, a piano, chairs, curtains, and other items were purchased. Average attendance that year was 189 for White, and 194 for Black students.
Coach Darg Paige’s salary was increased to $75, and York A. Lenoir was named principal for the 1931-32 season.
In 1933, White student attendance jumped to 264 with the inclusion of students from DeLisle and Pineville. Black enrollment was 192.
In 1935, Theresa Willis received $60 a month as a Teacher/Coach at the Black school.
In 1936, James Hall Bolden was appointed principal for the Black school.
In 1938, repairs had to be made due to dry-rotted floor joists.
In 1939, the Black school, then known as the Harrison County Training School, had its name changed to Randolph Highschool in honor of the former long-time principal. Lucius Hayden was appointed acting principal during a leave of absence by Bolden. Bolden was followed by A.B. Chatters, in 1945; by Albert D. Clark, in 1946; and by T.B. Brown, in 1948.
Additions and repairs were made to the Randolph School in 1951, and in 1954, Black students were accepted from Long Beach after Mrs. Minor Sutter donated the Sutter home at 321 Clark Street with the adjoining land north of Randolph. This growth resulted in school additions that commenced in 1958. In 1959, the old Nannie Sutter house was torn down and in 1960, the new buildings that were added to the school campus were dedicated and a plaque placed there. Members of the Azalea Garden Club, with Mrs Matile Cappie, the first president, planted azaleas around the patio yard where they also placed cement benches. For years afterward, the Azalea Club donated $100 towards a scholarship aid to deserving students.
Leon Murray Creshon became principal for the 1956-57 school term. On April 14, 1958, Randolph School adopted Blue and Gold as their school colors as the boys team was called the Tigers and the girls team, the Tigerettes.
In 1961, George Watson was appointed its principal. With the 1969-1970 school term, following Hurricane Camille, school segregation came to an end, which resulted in Randolph Highschool being rededicated as the Pass Christian Middle School. Hurricane Camille had exacted heavy damages upon every school building resulting in many classes having been conducted in portable trailer classrooms.
In 1949, an athletic gymnasium was built at the Second Street and Church Avenue White highschool. Renovations were made in 1958, and again in 1999-2000, with major changes and additions for the conversion of the school building to the new Middle School facility, as dedicated on March 28, 2000.
In 1950, Henderson Point, Pass Christian Isles, and other areas were included in the Pass Christian School District.
In 1961, the DeLisle Elementary School was renovated and in 1965, the current North Street Elementary School was opened.
With a heavily supported Ten million dollar Bond Issue passage in 1997, the new, North Street Pass Christian highschool groundbreaking ceremonies took place on May 19, 1998. On a 39-acre land mass, eight acres were portioned off for the new 82,000-sq-ft, multi-story, highschool building having an infrastructure for containing 750 students.
As part of the construction plans, included were major renovations and additions at the old highschool for conversion use as the new Middle School as well as additions and improvements to the Elementary Schools on North Street and at DeLisle.
A new cafeteria and a renovated media center were completed at Pass Christian Elementary school in the Fall of 1998, and a new gymnasium was completed in 1999.
At the DeLisle Elementary campus, a large gymnasium and four classrooms were added in 1999.
With the vacating of the old Pass Christian Middle School, the Clark Avenue structures were renamed Randolph Complex, which was named for J.W. Randolph, principal from 1891 to 1928, and later namesake for the Black school. “Professor” Randolph also took on many responsibilities in seeking the prosperity of his school This included gaining funding from the Rosenwald Foundation. Besides being an educator, he was also an attorney, and served as a member of the Mississippi State Legislature.
High School Alma Mater (1909)
On our State's fair southern border,
Reared against the sky,
Proudly stands our Alma Mater
As years roll by.
Forward! Ever! Be our watchword,
Conquer and prevail
Hail to thee, our Alma Mater,
Pass Christian All hail.
Let us greet our dear old High School
With a hearty cheer!
With our faces all set onward,
Voices ringing clear.
New tenants in the Randolph Complex include the Senior Citizen Center and the Boys and Girls Club of PC, in addition, space was temporarily used as executive offices of the School Superintendent and Pass Christian administrative services.
All of these accomplishments occurred through the leadership and direction of Public School Superintendent Philip Terrell. Our current public school superintendent, Sue Matheson, is highly prepared and motivated in continuing the educational progress that has prospered in Pass Christian.
http://www.passchristianschools.com/des/ DeLisle Elementary
Note from the Researcher: This chronology report contains only partial information which demonstrates the need for continued research on early Pass Christian institutions.
Gov. Haley Barbour complimented the PC School System for being one of three school districts in South Mississippi to achieve perfect scores on the state accountablility ratings. Students shown are Charles Chasteen, Bridgett Williams, Blanca Ladner, Amber McArthur, Amber Sykes, and Matthew Garriga.