What’s In A Name? Our Schools

Schools are back in session. Principals are handling administrative duties, teachers are following their lesson plans and students are balancing academic and special interest schedules. This is the way it has been for years on end. Of course, what has changed is the look of the faculties and students, the curriculum, the classrooms, the athletics and many other facets of education.

In Forsyth County, some schools have been here for years, while others have come and gone, replaced with new names in new locations. What do we know about the histories of our schools and how they got their names? Here’s a little test. Which of these schools was not named for a local school principal — Ibraham Elementary, Glenn High, Wiley Middle or Whitaker Elementary? The answer is all of them. Each of the individuals for whom these schools were named had different careers which illustrates the variety of influences in naming our local public schools.

Some names have faded from the roster of schools, such as Ardmore Elementary, West End, Winston-Salem High, Dalton Elementary, Skyland, Central Park, Granville, Fourteenth Street, Fairview, Depot Street, Oak Street and the list goes on. These are all names of schools that existed in various parts of the city but have closed for a variety of reasons.

Some schools are named for nationally known individuals, such as George Washington Carver, Thomas Jefferson, Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy. Others are named for sections of the county, such as North, West, East, Northwest and Southwest. And still, others are named for neighborhoods or towns, such as Old Town, Mount Tabor, Sherwood Forest, Konnoak, Lewisville, Clemmons, Old Richmond, Mineral Springs, Vienna and so on.

Schools are often named for an outstanding educator, to honor that individual for a career devoted to education or for an individual who made an impact on the city. So, who are these namesakes, and why was a school named for them? Here’s a brief account of several of the individuals so honored.

Atkins High…Named for Simon B. Atkins (1863-1934), founder of Slater Normal and Industrial School which later became Winston-Salem State University.

Brunson Elementary…Named for Grace Elliotte Brunson (1893-1980), principal of Calvin Wiley School and elementary school supervisor for the Winston-Salem City Schools.

Cook Elementary…Named for Lafayette Anderson Cook (1916-1968), principal of Carver Crest Elementary School.

Diggs-Latham Elementary…Named for Jefferson Davis Diggs (1865-1953), minister and teacher, and Rowland Hill Latham (1880-1948), superintendent of Winston-Salem City Schools.

Gibson Elementary…Named for Julian Gibson (1922-2015), principal of South Fork School, Northwest High School and North Forsyth High School.

Glenn High…Named for Governor Robert B. Glenn (1854-1920), North Carolina governor who lived and worked in Winston-Salem.

Hall-Woodward Elementary…Named for Kathleen Hall (1891-1983), teacher at Forest Park and Gray High Schools, and for Julius Woodward (1901-1972), principal at Waughtown, Skyland and Gray High School.

Hanes Magnet…Named for John Wesley Hanes Sr. (1850-1903), textile and tobacco industrialist.

Ibraham Elementary…Named for Prince M. Ibraham (1911-1954), vice-chairman of the Forsyth County Board of Education and a real estate broker.

Lowrance Middle…Named for Annie Laurie Lowrance (1900-1953), principal of Fairview School.

Moore Magnet…Named for John Watson Moore (1891-1968), principal of Winston-Salem and R. J. Reynolds High Schools, and superintendent of the Winston-Salem schools for 23 years.

Morgan Elementary…Named for W. Frank Morgan (1924- ), principal of Clemmons Elementary and High Schools.

  1. J. Reynolds High…Named for Richard J. Reynolds Sr. (1850-1918), tobacco manufacturer. The school and neighboring auditorium were gifts of his wife, Katharine.

Speas Elementary…Named for Wesley B. Speas (1875-1947), principal of Lewisville and Vienna schools, and superintendent of Forsyth County Schools for 20 years.

Ward Elementary…Named for Marvin Ward (1914-2008), superintendent of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools and a member of the North Carolina Senate.

Whitaker Elementary…Named for William A. Whitaker (1843-1912), tobacco manufacturer and early advocate for local schools.

Wiley Middle…Named for Dr. Calvin H. Wiley (1819-1887), first superintendent of public instruction in North Carolina. He also established the public school system in Forsyth County.

Many of these individuals are profiled in detail on the winstonsalemtimetraveler.com website. Just for fun, take the school name and facts quiz on the WSTT website (available October 1st), and see how well you score.

Coming in November: “Tales from the Attic. The photo album.”

By Molly Grogan Rawls, author of the Winston-Salem Time Traveler website. Contact Molly at mollygroganrawls.com or winstonsalemtimetraveler.com.