Our Past

Carver High School Alumni Association

Carver High Historical Background


Carver High School was named for George Washington Carver, who was born in slavery. He became a world renowned Agricultural Chemist, a humanitarian, and was one of the world’s most famous inventors. Hence, the very reason that our school was named in his honor; his photograph graced the wall of our school as a constant source of pride, inspiration and motivation.

Historical Background

Carver High School has an interesting and historic background in the struggle for equal opportunities in education in Lake City and the surrounding areas. There were many building blocks that culminated in the construction of our esteemed high school. There were many unsung heroes and heroines who contributed to the struggle for our education. Therefore, a short synopsis outlining some of these milestones and persons will be highlighted.

In 1949, all area black schools were incorporated with Lake City Elementary and High Schools. The incorporated schools were:

St John Elementary School (1-7): This school was established in the early thirties (30's) by the late Rev. Alva L. Wilson. There might have been a Trustee Board. The teachers who taught there were housed at the residence of Rev. Alva L. Wilson, A United Methodist minister. There were very few students at that time who were able to continue after seventh (7th) grade from the Green Road area; at that time, they had to have their own transportation. In 1953 - 54, busing was made possible and all children from that area were able to come to the Lake City Proper Schools. (Submitted by Rev. Matthew C. Brown, former Carver Elem. Teacher)

Hickson Grove: This school was located at 4 ½ 341 West, North Green Road. The known principal was Bishop James S. Thomas; Bishop James Samuel Thomas later became a former Bishop of the Iowa Annual Conference and died on Sunday, 10 October 2010, at age 91. Bishop Thomas was born into a Methodist parsonage family in Orangeburg, South Carolina. He attended Claflin College and then became a rural school principal in Florence County, South Carolina, for a year, where he resided with the family of Clayton and Sula McClam. Mr. Clayton McClam also was the Founder of the McClam School, 341 West North Green Road. (Submitted by Rev. L.J. McClam & Deloris McClam Cross)

Other incorporated schools were: Gaskins Elementary School, Ninevah Elementary School, Liberty Elementary School, Glendale School, St Luke Elementary School, Bethel Elementary School, McCutheon Elementary School, Scranton Elementary School, Olanta Trade School, High Hill Elementary School, and Olive Grove Elementary School

The Fight for Equality and the Establishment of Carver

In 1950, a lawsuit was filed in neighboring Clarendon County under the name of “Briggs vs. Elliot” and challenged the constitutionality of separate but equal laws. The case became the first such case to reach the U.S. Supreme Court and the Court combined it with four other cases under the name “Brown vs. Board of Education, Topeka , KS ”. To stave off the issue of desegregation, South Carolina , in 1950 passed a $75,000.000 bond to equalize schools in South Carolina . The School we know as Carver was built from these bonds as Lake City ’s effort to equalize black and white schools. A few months after Carver opened, the Supreme Court made its May 17th decision declaring “SEPARATE BUT EQUAL’’ unconstitutional”. (contributor, B.B. DeLaine)

Carver’s origin began with one wood building located on Graham Road, which housed grades first through tenth. This building was destroyed by fire and a new school was erected to replace the wood building. The Lake City Colored Elementary and High School, as it was known in early existence, could no longer accommodate the population. Therefore, it became necessary to erect a second building and the two were separated. Eventually, the twelfth grade was added. The new facility housed grades ninth through twelfth; some years later, the sixth, seventh and eighth grades were added to relieve the volume of students at the elementary school.

Pioneering Educators

Professor Theodus R. Cooper entered into the education field in 1951; he was assigned to serve as principal at what he refers to as “a two-teacher school,” Gaskins Elementary. At that time, separate-but-equal was the law and Gaskins, a black school, was not a priority for the district. In 1954, Professor Cooper became the Principal of Carver Elementary School which consisted of a Brick & Block Building which housed grade 1st through 5th. The Brick building had central heat, but it did not have air conditioning or a telephone. There were no public address systems; students took announcements by hand from classroom to classroom. The cafeteria was not available until a much later date; lunch was brought from home or bought. Mr. & Mrs. L.D. Graham had Mrs. Mattie's store right next door that all of us looked forward to visiting each and every day. During his 36-year career as an educator, Professor Cooper has seen much change and progress.

Lake City Colored High School had several dedicated principals during its existence. Among them were Mr. Lamar Bradley, Mr. Isaiah Boone, and Mr. Pittman C. Lemmon. Mr. Pittman C. Lemmon was the only principal in the existence of Carver High School . Later, in the early 60's, Mr. Harry N. Fleming became the only assistant principal in its existence. During those years, the black schools did not have Assistant Principals, Guidance Counselors or Secretaries. Some of the teaching staff assisted the principals in preparing reports, etc. This procedure continued until August 1963, when Mary L. Singletary-Graham became the first official secretary of Carver High School. She was the first Black Secretary-Bookkeeper for the Florence School District Three.

Carver’s Early and Epic Years

One of the more monumental moments in the history of our school occurred during one of Lake City Colored High School’s graduation ceremonies. Mary McLeod Bethune participated in the graduation services and the Black History Week which was held at Wesley AME Church. She was housed with Mrs. Leola P. Jones, a teacher at Carver High who resided in Kingstree, SC.

With the increase in population and the demand for more specialized areas of education, Carver High School was built fully equipped with a combined gymnasium/auditorium, administrative area, vocational, agriculture, music and home economics departments, a science laboratory, cafeteria, and a library. In the spring of “1954," the first Senior Class held its graduation in the new gymnasium/auditorium.

Carver High was one of the greatest schools in South Carolina. The students were very disciplined and high achievers. The school had winning basketball and football teams. Mr. Edward Cooper, the band director, continued to create the greatest high school bands in the area year after year. The school had a chorus, which produced singers that are still performing today, a drama club, agricultural program and many other extra-curricular activities, such as the Spring Hop Dance, May Day Festivities, Homecomings and Parades that were the best in the state.

One of the underlying factors which aided the school’s progress was the dedicated faculty and staff of highly educated men and women who were committed to helping students develop and strengthen their basic skills as well as pursue higher academic/vocational goals.

Carver’s Legacy

The classes of 1954-1970 have made notable progress. Many of its graduates are and were prominent in private industry; local, state, and federal jobs; educators; doctors; ministers; business owners; and even an Astronaut.

Although Carver High School is no longer in existence in name, the Lion Spirit lives on in the hearts of thousands who were educated there from 1954 through 1970.

Content taken from Carver High School Historical Background

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