The Eleventh Biennial Reunion Celebration of Oktibbeha County Training School and Henderson High School Scholarship Fund, Incorporated on July 5 – July 7, 2019.
LOCATION: STARKVILLE SPORTSPLEX on LYNN LANE
START DATE: July 05th, 2019
2018 Donor Request Letter 15Jan18
OCTS-HHS 2019 Announcement Jan18
P.O. Box 80066
Starkville, MS 39760-0066
A Brief History of the O.C.T.S. / H.H.S. Campus
Professor Willie Chiles (W. C.) Henderson came to Public School No. 2, later known as Oktibbeha County Training School in 1918. When he arrived as a teacher the school was a 10th grade institution. The only original structure at the time is believed to have been the Rosenwald Building.
The Rosenwald building was constructed as a partnership between the Julius Rosenwald Fund and local citizens of Starkville and represented a leap forward for black citizens of Starkville who wanted to ensure an education for their children. Rosenwald buildings were constructed by giving grants to black communities to cover about a one third of the cost of a building. The communities were expected to match the Rosenwald money with either cash or in-kind contributions of labor and materials and to gain financial support from the public school system.
On June 28, 1926, the school board met at City Hall to receive bids for construction of a new school building at the site of what is now known as the Henderson Complex. This was a two-story, wooden structure, which served as the Oktibbeha County Training School until 1959 when the current Henderson Sixth Grade was built. The Rosenwald Building continued to provide classroom space and also housed the Complex auditorium. A wooden cafeteria structure was also added later. Professor W.C Henderson served as Principal of Oktibbeha County Training School and in 1959 served as principal of Henderson High School until 1964.
The Rosenwald Building was referred to as the “old building” and the two story structure was called the “new building”. The school was known as “The Hill” and also known as “Hard Scramble”. Under Professor Henderson’s leadership the school became a senior high school. A school band was formed along with many other school organizations, including sports teams. The sports teams included an outstanding football team that won many division championships.
In 1952, a bond issue was passed to fund improvements in the district including a new elementary school at the current Henderson Complex site. The board purchased 9.8 acres of land from Professor Henderson to accommodate the building. In May of 1954, bids were accepted to build the elementary school (the current Rosa Stewart building). The total cost of $89,293. The board named the new building Henderson Elementary School. The building was first occupied in the fall of 1954.
A district-wide building plan was developed in 1958 by the board and administration. The plans included the construction of what is now known as Sudduth Elementary, Emerson Elementary, and Henderson High School. Through a combination of bond issue funds and state building funds, the projects were initiated. In June of that year the board accepted bids to remove the old two-story building (known as the Oktibbeha County Training School) and the lunchroom located on the campus and authorized architect Tom Jones to make repairs to the Rosenwald building. In October of 1958, the board accepted the bid from Perry Construction, Inc. for construction of the new high school. The total bid, including mechanical and electrical, was $218,826. In July of 1959 the board designated the name of the new high school as W.C. Henderson High School for the long-time principal Professor W. C. Henderson.
In January 1963, the board began the planning for a second elementary school to be located at the Henderson Campus and acquisition of additional land to accommodate the building. After securing funding from a combination of loans and Educational Financing Funding the board advertised for bids for the new school building. In December the board accepted the low bid in the amount of $89,204 (including mechanical and electrical). Van Landingham Construction was named the general contractor. Mr. Tom Jones was the architect of record. In July of 1964, the board accepted the new building, which was named Henderson Middle Grade School (the current Ward Elementary). The students began classes in the new building in the fall of that year.
Long time principal of Henderson High School, Professor W.C. Henderson, retired at the conclusion of the 1963-64 academic year after more than 42 years of service with the Starkville public schools. Mr. Clell Ward replaced Mr. Henderson beginning the 1964-65 academic year. In 1966 a new football stadium and vocational building (now known as the “metal building”) were constructed on the campus of the Henderson Complex.
Upon the recommendation of a committee comprised of Mr. Benny Baker, Mr. George Evans, and Professor W.C. Henderson, the Board, in 1967, designated the names of the schools as follows: Henderson Elementary would continue to be known by that name; Henderson Middle Grade School was designated Ella B. Ward Middle Grade School (after Mrs. Ella Ward, an elementary teacher who served the district for many years); and Beat One Elementary School was named James Emerson Elementary school (after a former math teach for the district).
Starkville ended the dual system of education in 1970 and initiated a complete restructuring of the assignment of students to grades and schools. In September, students from Henderson High School were transferred to Starkville High School. Henderson High School became Henderson Junior High School, housing all ninth-grade students on the district. Henderson Elementary School became Ella B. Ward Elementary (fourth grade). Renovations were made to the schools and bids were taken to remove the Rosenwald Building; however, none were received. This building burned later in 1970.
In 1976 the city of Starkville passed a bond issue which funded construction, additions and renovations throughout the district. A library and two classrooms were added to Ward Elementary. In 1987 the addition of stateside kindergartens required restructuring of the grade system in the Starkville School District. Henderson Junior High became Henderson Elementary, housing sixth-grade students and the eighth grade building became Rosa Stewart Elementary for fifth-grade students (Rosa Stewart Elementary was named for long-time educator, Mrs. Rosa Stewart). Ward Elementary remained the home for the district’s fourth graders. Both Henderson and Rosa Stewart received some renovations at that time.
In 1994 the board secured funding through a limited-tax note in the amount $2.4 million to renovate the building located at the Henderson Complex and at Armstrong Middle School. Extensive renovations included establishment of new traffic patterns, road paving and parking lots. New administrative offices, classrooms and libraries were constructed at both Henderson and at Ward/Rosa Stewart. Renovations were also made to the “metal building”.
Using funds generated through the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, the district made final renovations to the campus in the summer of 1998. The interiors of all buildings were painted, new floor covering were installed and bathrooms were renovated.