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A summary of the proposal to move a one-room schoolhouse to the East High campus.

From: The Keystone, March/April 2010 (Memphis Heritage, Inc.) Article used with permission.

The Importance of  Education to  Memphis Told  From a One Room  School
By Nicholas Shanks, Jhmarkus  Simpson, Tiara Austin, and  Dominique Wein (East High  School Students)

Walking through the Mid-South  Fairgrounds you may come  across a small unimpressive  shack. The little red structure,  built from clapboard, is probably  no larger than the size of modern  classroom. However, this shack  may not be as unimpressive as  you think. In 1896 the Supreme  Court decided on the separate  but equal mandate in the  landmark case of Plessy vs.  Ferguson. From this decision  many schools for African  American children were  established in the South such as  this one room school house  located at the fairgrounds. This  school was originally founded in  1921 and rebuilt on Presidents  Island in 1952; it was the last  operating one room school house  within the Memphis City limits  up until the 1960s.  Unfortunately, the Presidents  Island School House, a symbol of  the importance of education for  the beginning of the twentieth  century, is in danger of being  destroyed.   

We, the students of East High  School, would like to save the  Presidents Island School House  by relocating the building to East  High School’s campus and  preserving its structural  integrity. To our student body,  the school house represents the  evolution of equality as we  examine how Memphis City  Schools have evolved over time.  Saving this historical site is  important because it reminds us  of the past in Memphis and  Shelby County. It shows us how  citizens have worked together to  overcome adversity. Through the  preservation and restoration of  this landmark, each generation  can show their children how  education has changed and how it  continues to enrich the  community. Memphians passing  by our school will be able see the  vast contrast between the one  room school house and East High  School’s large and architecturally  striking building. The exposure to  the history of Memphis’  educational development and its  current benefits encourages us to  take every advantage of what we  have today. The Presidents Island  School House is also a symbol of  the sharecropping practices that  were once dominant in the South,  representing the importance of  education to those who were  economically oppressed.

This project is also important to  East because it is being studentled.  Our student body realizes  that no matter what color or  nationality we are, we all must  fight for what we believe in; we  believe that this one room  school house is a significant  symbol of progress. To facilitate  this project we have created  student sub-committees and  divided the task into  manageable parts. We sought  guidance from various  stakeholders by conducting a  steering committee meeting  this past Friday, February 26,  2010. Our AP history teacher  and mentor, Mr. Scott, along  with various other stakeholders  were especially excited about  getting our project off the  ground. If the school house is  relocated to East High, we hope  to turn it into a museum with  an attached amphitheatre for  lectures. This structure and the  attached amenities would  enlighten the youth of  Memphis about our history and  transformation.      

The little red school house in  front of East High School will  illustrate the comparison of an  actual school from the past to a  Memphis City School that we  love and are proud of today. This  tiny room with its humble  beginnings could spark an  enormous interest in a better  future for education in Memphis  as we seek to unite the Greater  Mid-South.

The following photograph is not part of The Keystone's article:
One-room schoolhouse, photographed June 20, 2010, (c) K.L. Welch, The East High Alumni Page

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