Gwen Williams and Dr. Lester Pollard agree that the John P. Blanchard Consolidated High School was a special place filled with encouraging and inspiring people.
"It was a great school," said Dr. Lester O. Pollard, a 1961 graduate and former teacher. "We had people like Theretha Lee and Wilhelmina Graham. We had great teachers, people who taught children. They were interested in us and they took the kind of interest that inspired all of us."
The Blanchard school, in the buildings that now house Columbia Middle School on Columbia Road, was the only high school for black students in the then-racially segregated county after then-superintendent John Pierce Blanchard fought to have the school created in 1957. It was fed by three black elementary schools - George T. White, Phinizy and Gibbs.
"When it was integrated in 1970, the school, of course, no longer technically existed. But those of us who went to Blanchard were very proud of Blanchard High School," Pollard said. "We tried to keep the memory of the John Pierce Blanchard High School alive."
Pollard said the school, which Blanchard often called his favorite school, had no gymnasium. Basketball was played outside and the school boasted a great baseball team.
Pollard later earned a degree at Paine College and returned to the school in 1966 as a teacher.
The 1961 and 1962 graduating classes of the Blanchard school are now offering a scholarship for relatives of students or employees of the school.
Pollard, co-chairman of the scholarship executive committee, said the exact amount of the scholarship, and any additional criteria for the recipient such as academic merit and need, will be worked out at an Aug. 7 meeting. The scholarship will be awarded Sept. 2 at the school's biennial reunion.
The name of the scholarship is still up in the air.
"When we were thinking of names for the scholarship ... we couldn't put everybody's name on the scholarship," said Williams, executive committee secretary and 1962 Blanchard school graduate.
Williams, as she flipped through a yearbook, pointed out many of the influential teachers and administrators for whom the committee would consider naming the scholarship, such as literature teacher Theretha Lee.
"She was one of my favorite teachers when I was there," said Williams, who worked at the school as a teacher's aide and media clerk for 23 years. "She was a very special person."
Pollard said he distinctly remembers Principal Charles Lazeby as a strict disciplinarian, but a fair one.
"Everybody respected him," Pollard said. "There were lots of great teachers at Blanchard. They inspired in us this spirit to keep the memory of Blanchard alive."
The committee also is considering naming the scholarship after the man for whom the school was named.
"(Superintendent John Pierce Blanchard) was the best person. He was so friendly," Williams said. "And he could remember your name."
The scholarship will be funded by the school's graduating classes, including 1961, 1962 and 1966.
"We hope that every class will participate, that every class will help us fund this scholarship to make the scholarship more meaningful," Pollard said.
The scholarship will be administered through the Rosemont Baptist Association.
The deadline for applications is Monday, Aug. 7. Applications should include the applicant's name, address, phone number, name of technical school or college attending, grade point average and the name of the relative who attended or was employed by the school.
Applications should be mailed to Rosemont Baptist Association, 5631 Burks Mountain Road, Appling GA 30802.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.