Jones School remembered for Black History Month

Friday, February 21, 2014

By Jessica Moore

Staff Writer

In honor of February being Black History Month, we were fortunate to have photos from our community's past shared with us. Many of them were brought in by Charles Brown and Ron Robinson. Most of the photos were from the late 1950s and the 1960s and pertain to Jones School. I was lucky enough to catch up with folks within the community while they shared their memories with me, and boy did I learn a lot.

For me, it's hard to imagine life before integration, or even referring to it as that really. It's just not something my generation really knows much about outside of a history lesson from school, or stories from an older relative. Most of the information I have gathered is from first-hand accounts of those who were present during that time. I thoroughly enjoyed every story told to me during the process of learning about Jones School. It was so much fun tracking down stories and names of people in photos. The community really did so much to help me during my research.

Did you know ...

* Where CB&S Bank stands today, was the first Jones School? It may not have been named Jones School, but many folks refer to it as such. In fact two smaller schools stood in that area. One was a rock building, the other was framed. Once the Jones School that still exists today (as the Board of Education's Central Office) was built, it housed Kindergarten (or first grade) through 12th grade.

Jones School had only two principals. The first principal was Jacob Jones. The school was first named Jones Training School after him. The second and last principal was George Turner. He not was not just a principal, he taught several classes at the school as well, including chemistry. He was also the football coach.

Arnold Quarles, the Band Director at Jones School, was the one who suggested taking "Training" out of the school's name. It wasn't long after the word was dropped from the name and it became known as Jones School.

Back then a person could teach in some schools with only an 8th-grade education. Could you imagine that happening today?

Students first began attending the new Jones School during the early 1950s

Jones School had a Homecoming Court made up of senior attendants and 5th grade attendants.

College-bound students had to take some courses without receiving credit, because they were not offered at Jones School. This varied depending on whether or not there was a teacher available, but for some students foreign language and geometry were not available for study during their time at Jones.

"Jones School was the best school. It was a community school. We had the best teachers. They knew the students and the parents," said Arnold and Gloria Quarles.

The home economics class at Jones School only had five sewing machines for a class of 30 students. Gloria Quarles recalls her time in home economics as a student. "It took an entire semester to make one jumper. We had a very meticulous, good home ec teacher. Every stitch had to be exact. We got to model what we made at the end of the semester in a fashion show. It was a Friday night so everyone could come to the show. The next morning, I sent the jumper to my cousin in Memphis. That summer my mother bought me a used portable sewing machine. I made an entire dress in one day," said Gloria, reminiscing. Gloria Quarles later taught algebra and special education courses at Jones School.

Arnold Quarles was the Band Director at Jones School until they integrated in the late 1960s. He then went on to teach at Marshall County High School (where Lewisburg Middle School is today). He also taught music appreciation at Cornersville and Chapel Hill, so they could receive fine arts credits. During the summer Quarles worked with the Job Training Partnership Act, which placed students in summer internships. He worked with students from schools all over the county including Petersburg.

Roy Dukes was also a student of Jones School. After finishing college in South Carolina, he came back and helped coach basketball at Jones School.

"The fall of 1965 was the last time Jones High would field a football team. That team won seven games and lost three. The biggest win was over Pulaski's Bridgeforth Blue Devils, for the cowbell; something these schools played for years. Jones Lions came home with a 21 to 12 victory. This marked the last of football at the historically black high school. If you never went to an all-black school, it's something like no other," said Charles "Porkchop" Brown, who got me started on this article by bringing in his treasured collection of photos.