Remember When: The History of AHS
Andalusia High School Homecoming 2019 will be celebrated this weekend beginning October 25. The Senior class of 2020 will remember this fall as their last football season as high school students when “The 100 Seasons of AHS Football” is being commemorated. The classes of 2010, 2000, 1990, and 1980 will be honored with skits in the Friday assembly in the newly renovated auditorium. The building was initially completed in January 1964 and recently rebuilt completed in August 2019 some 55 years later.
Other earlier classes of 1970, 1960, and 1950 will be present to reminisce with plans for weekend reunion gatherings. The bulletin board in the Heritage Room located in the “Old Main” displays pictures from the Memolusia yearbooks in all of those years.
The Heritage Room founded by Joseph C. Wingard in 1966 contains a large collection of memorabilia from most of the classes from the time the school was established around 1899. The Class of 1948 along with the financial backing of generous alumni and the late W. Robert Brown was successful in seeing that a proper room was built to house the collections of Wingard, AHS English teacher of 39 years.
Alums are always welcome to visit, research, and contribute their mementoes of football, band, cheerleader uniforms, prom programs, graduation and baccalaureate programs, senior scrapbooks, etc. Many thanks to Suan Salter, Esther Barrow, and Blake Barton for their organizational skills in performing the original work behind the project.
After Mr. Wingard’s passing in December 2017, much information from his home was moved to the Heritage Room which has not yet been completely sorted out and filed. Help is requested by the current curator, this writer. Here are a few of the notes, some just one-liners, that Mr. Wingard was famous for jotting down as he interviewed people and uncovered tidbits of information. Let me share some of these which he stored in his black notebooks labeled “The History of AHS.”
The first graduating class according to Mrs. Harry Lynn was in 1905. Her sister’s 1905 diploma (Martha Riley Cook), hangs in the Heritage Room.
James Arthur Wilson who served as student, teacher, and then principal should be known as “Mr. Andalusia High School.”
While arrangements for an official city school building were being made around the turn-of-the-century (Circa 1899-1900), the old newspapers referred to the school as “The Andalusia Public School,” “The Andalusia Institute,” “Andalusia’s School.”
One of the early teachers was Professor A. M. Peach from Bullock County who helped to teach the first “official” Andalusia student body. (He was probably a “peach” of a teacher!)
The country young’ns (southwest of town) attended the Farmers’ Schoolhouse which stood in the oak grove near the site of City Councilman Kennith Mount’s house on the Brewton Highway formerly known as the Old South Three Notch Road. The land was leased from James Harrison Fletcher. The one-room schoolhouse building was demolished “little by little for firewood” by one of Mr. Jim’s sons, Walter, around 1931.
Prior to the formation of the city school, there were some private schools for the town children including Miss Fannie Barron’s School for primary children mentioned to have been located in several spots around town and the South Three Notch School, a two-story building where Russo’s Service Station once stood on the corner of Baker Street.
The Andalusia High School began in the hearts of those Andalusia citizens who wished to provide an education for their children. A zealous community pride was exhibited by Andalusians at the turn-of-the-century when the town was transformed from a “broad place in the road” of 250 people to a bustling town of 5,000 by the early 1920s after the railroad line was extended from Searight to Andalusia reaching downtown Andalusia in September 1899.
The present AHS building is the 4th high school to be built. It has been used since 1939. The 1st brick schoolhouse was used about 11 ½ years; the 2nd one about 8 ½ years; and the 3rd about 16 years. Until the 2nd East Three Notch school building was built, most graduations took place in the old Opera House on Pear Street, then at the East Three Notch Auditorium for many years even after the move to the Church Street School. For a few short years, the exercises were held outside in the new City Municipal Stadium after it was built in 1950, but since the building of the AHS auditorium in 1964, graduations were held there. The Kiwanis Building was the stage setting for the Class of 2018 graduation due to the construction going on at the time of the new auditorium.
Much historical information in the pages of the 1980 Memolusia is significant. The theme of that yearbook is “The Halls of Ivy.” Words written by yearbook sponsor, Mr. Wingard, will be quoted, no doubt, for as long as his students, teacher friends, and historical society friends desire to remember the contributions to the high school history in his written words which are written as no one else could pen them. “The pen is mightier than the sword,” the quote goes and Wingard knew that so well. I know no one that loved quotes of the romantic poets and writers any more than Joe Wingard – Loved by many, taught by many, forgotten by none! So here, in conclusion, are some more excerpts in addition to those above from that 1980 volume.
“How strange it seems that I should be the adviser to the yearbook the Class of 1930 started some 14 years before I was born. They called it Memolusia, “Memories of Andalusia,” named, they told me, by Miss Mildred Gantt. The first editor was Rebecca Darling (later Mrs. Eric Russell), the librarian when I came here.”
“Here (AHS) is where lifelong friendships were born, loves found and marriages made, dreams of greatness dreamt, beliefs cherished and endeared, hearts tendered and ennobled. Here has been the birthplace of anecdotes and characters, of golden memories, of pride and joy. Here is a common tie, a common love, a tradition. I am most glad and grateful that I am part of the sterling spirit of the hallowed ‘Halls of Ivy.’ It is good to be here to see the generations pass by – brothers, sisters, cousins, children – and to remember the past and hope for the future.”
“Many memories like those listed in this yearbook are dear to the hearts of all who have lived and learned in ol’ Andy High, all who have walked through its ‘halls of ivy.’”
I Remember When this poem was written for the students of AHS in October 2013: T
THE GHOSTS OF AHS
School’s entrance doors are open wide
With a gentle breeze on the winds of time
Swirlin’ down these lonely halls
Where ghosts of the past and footsteps fall.
No longer tread that steady way
Where others trek from day to day
To seek, to find, to gain the mark
They mingle then flow alone at dark.
The years of youth so quickly gone
The lessons that somehow stand along
The thoughts do linger, the friends remember
The years gone by of each September.
‘Tis the season of circling faces
Boys and girls in many places
Dancing, walking, side by side
Innocence, laughing, no secrets to hide.
The hallowed “main” with many a story
Glimmering, shining, floating in glory
Deep in the depths of century folklore
With tales they tell, with yells they roar.
Now do not doubt, do not fear
The ghouls and goblins are only here
To remind you that your path in life
Was started here upon this site.
Now students, look to join the hosts
Of creaks and squeaks among the ghosts
When finally your shadow leaves this space
To make our world a better place.
Sue Bass Wilson, AHS Class of 1965, is a local real estate broker and long-time member of the Covington Historical Society. She can be reached at email@example.com.