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Full text of "Tubman High School for Girls"

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TUBMAN HIGH SCHOOL FOR GIRLS 

by 

T.H. Garrett 









REESE LIBRARY AUGUSTA COLLEGE 
S.C. LD7501.T8G3 

Garrett, T. Harry, 1874-1 010104 003 

Tubman High School for girls. 



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LIBRARY 

Augusta College 

Augusta, Georgia 






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Tubman High School for Girls* 

By T. H. Garrett 

Principal of Tubman High School, Augusta, Georgia 

Co-education in American public high schools is 99.44 per cent pure. 
That is to say, these schools are nearly all co-educational. More than a 
thousand public high schools are now members of the Southern Association 
of Colleges and Secondary Schools. Of this number, only eight or ten — 
according to the best count I can make — are for girls only. Tubman is 
one of this small number. It is a safe guess to make that many other high 
schools would like to be in this select company. When love breaks out in 
adolescent life, the wisest school administrator is sometimes put to his wits' 
end to know whether to treat it as an emotional or a physical rash, or both. 

Tubman High School has been a member of the Southern Association 
since 1911. The school began its career in 1874 in a church. Its enroll- 
ment has grown from 35 to 1,200 in these sixty-three years. The school 
is named for Mrs. Emily Tubman, a native of Kentucky and a ward of 
Henry Clay, who was married in Augusta and lived the remainder of a 
long life here. Mrs. Tubman purchased a small Christian church building 
and site valued at twelve thousand dollars and presented it to the board of 
education to be used as a high school for girls. Prior to that time "female 
education" had been carried on by private teachers and in a few private 
"seminaries of learning." In reporting this generous gift, the superintendent 
of schools expressed the opinion that "It surely ought to settle for all time 
the high school question in the city of Augusta." 

The first faculty consisted of "one male and one female." In 1877 the 
first class of six girls was graduated. They had "completed with satisfaction 
to those in authority" a three years course. This is what they had studied : 

First Tear. Arithmetic, spelling and defining, Latin, French, rhetoric, natural 
philosophy, penmanship, reading, history. 

Second Tear. Arithmetic, algebra, synonymes, Latin, French, natural philosophy, 
physical geography, penmanship, reading, history. 

Third Tear. Algebra, Latin, French, English literature, physical geography, 
chemistry, astronomy, penmanship, reading, history, critical course in parsing. 

Students could choose between Latin and French. Calisthenics twice a 
week was required of all students. Wand drills and dumb-bell exercises 
were popular numbers on the program of frequent public exhibitions. 
Girls were allowed to remove their corsets and bustles for these exercises. 
No other concession was made to freedom of movement or to display of 

* This article is a refreshing account of a school that is "different." In these days when 
we have so effectively "standardized" everything, it is inspiring to know that there is a 
school or an individual now and then who not only does not mind being different but is 
proud of it. Tubman High is such a school and Principal Garrett is such an individual 
school man. — Editor. 



ITBRKRY 
Augusta College 
Augusta, Georgia 



390 THE SOUTHERN ASSOCIATION QUARTERLY 

form. Bloomers were unknown. The modern one-piece gym suit was 
undreamed of. 

The course of study seems to have been practically unchanged during 
the first twenty years. There was no science laboratory of any kind. A 
wall map of the United States and a map of the Ancient Roman Empire 
were all the equipment the school had. Steele's "Fourteen Weeks" scries 
of science textbooks was text and laboratory. 

The school seems to have been popular from the beginning. Indeed it 
soon established a place in the affection of the city that made "Tubman 
Girls" synonymous with "charm school." The annual commencements 
were events that always packed the "Grand Opera House" to the doors. 
"The sweet girl graduate" was annually written up in the local papers as 
a "vision of loveliness." Here is a typical commencement program : 

Class Motto : "To Do, Not to Dream" 

Welcome Song School 

Salutatory 

Recitation : "Annie's Ticket" 

Song — "Sweet Vision of Childhood" School 

Recitation : "Dream of Eugene Aram" 

Song — "Welcome Pretty Primrose" School 

Recitation : "Sam Weller's Valentine" 

Song — "Alpine Herdsman" School 

Recitation: "Little Jerry" 
Valedictory 

Song — "Down Among the Lilies" School 

Address — [Local Celebrity] 
Presentation of Prizes 
Presentation of Diplomas 

Song : "The Severed Chain" School 

Benediction 

The school grew slowly. "Woman's 'spear' " was still in the home. There 
she didn't need much education. At Tubman the faculty of "one male 
and one female" continued to teach all subjects. At the end of the fourth 
year, the superintendent of schools reported that the "male" had left the 
school. Another male was elected in his place. 

A fourth year was added to the course of study in 1892. "The studies 
were extended into higher mathematics, history, literature, and science, and 
the course of study required for graduation is as high as most of our southern 
colleges and institutions of learning." (Superintendent's report.) At this 
time a special teacher of physical culture was employed to visit the school 
once a week. A study had disclosed a condition, sought now to be remedied, 
as follows : "By bending over books and slates in school, the chest becomes 
contracted, the blood flows to the brain, and the extremities become cold. 
After a while the wooden seats get uncomfortable, the brain grows weary, 
and the girls turn and twist at their desks and long for bodily action." 



TUBMAN HIGH SCHOOL FOR GIRLS 391 

Hence the course in physical culture "to draw the blood away from the 
brain and into the vital organs and limbs." 

For many years during the earlier period of the school's history the finan- 
cial report of the Board of Education showed, apparently with some pride, 
that the cost of instruction was about Si. 05 per pupil per month. In 1937 
it is about S7.00 per month. 

Twice the original school building (church) was enlarged and improved. 
Domestic science (cooking) was added to the course of study. This inno- 
vation did not at first meet with popular approval. The comment was 
frequently heard that the girls' mothers could "learn their daughters to 
cook at home." Once when one of the girls left the gas stove burning from 
Friday afternoon to Monday morning the course in cooking came near to 
being abolished as a fire hazard. 

In March 19 16, the school building was destroyed by fire — which, how- 
ever, did not originate in the cooking department. By this fire the school 
lost not only its building but its grounds as well. It is believed that this is 
the only case on record where a school lost both its building and grounds 
by fire. The donor of the original building stipulated in the deed she gave 
the board of education to the property that if this site were ever abandoned 
as a school the grounds should become the property of the trustees of the 
Richmond Academy, at that time a private school for boys. The board 
of education had purchased before the fire a site of eleven acres in another 
part of the city upon which at some future time to erect a larger and more 
modern school building. Following the fire the school carried on in two 
Sunday school buildings, the basement of one of the grade schools, and a resi- 
dence. A bond issue of $100,000.00 was voted by the people to provide funds 
for the erection of the new building. This was the first, but by no means 
the last, bond issue voted by the citizens of Augusta and Richmond County 
for school purposes. Naturally there was some opposition by the electorate. 
When the plans of the new building were first published in the local papers 
the comment was frequently heard : "It's too big ; they won't fill a building 
like that in a hundred years." The new building was ready for use in Feb- 
ruary 1918. In three years it was "filled." The objectors had to admit 
that they had missed their guess by ninety-seven years ; which, after all, is 
not a bad guess for the average school critic of the streets. The enrollment 
began to increase rapidly. In 19 18 there were 312 girls in attendance. 
Today the enrollment nears the 1,200 mark. The faculty has increased 
from one male and one female to forty-one females and one male. From 
the beginning, the school principal has been a man. In the history of the 
school there have been only four principals. One served six years, another 
three years, a third eighteen years. The present principal is now in his 
thirty-fourth year of service. The local papers sometimes refer to him as 



392 THE SOUTHERN ASSOCIATION QUARTERLY 

a "veteran educator." This form of reference does not appeal to him as 
the most appropriate or tactful. 

Dr. Lawton B. Evans, whom many will remember as one of the out- 
standing educators of the South, served as superintendent of the Augusta 
schools for more than fifty years. He saw the growth and development of 
Tubman High School with interest and pride from its simple beginnings to 
its present-day maturity. The school now is equipped with modern re- 
quirements for the variety of courses of study offered in cosmopolitan high 
schools in the same educational field. Not once in its twenty-six years of 
membership in the Southern Association has Tubman High School been 
warned of any failure to meet the Association's required standards. Those 
who were responsible for the development of the school have felt that the 
responsibility of running the best school they could was upon themselves. 
At the same time, they have tried to keep within the laws of the Association 
and to be worthy of a membership which for more than a quarter of a cen- 
tury Tubman High School has prized. 



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