Milam County Texas Archives
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  Contributed by: Milam County Genealogical Society

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(Researched by Supt. J. M. Moorman)

In 1874, a few weeks after the l&GN Railroad reached Rockdale, the first school in the town was organized by Miss Milly Roby. Miss Roby taught for six months, and though realizing the lack of educational advantages, she was finally forced to give up on account of poor patronage.

It was not until the following fall that an attempt was made to reorganize the first school. Miss Maggie Hall who had taught in Bryan, felt the great need of education for the young. In September she opened a private school in one small upper room of a house located where the Matson home now stands. She taught her little school for the nine months term of 1874-75.

Time For Boom

The town had been incorporated, and the citizens decided it was time they should have the benefits of the public schools that had been secured for Texas under Governor 0. M. Roberts. The council appointed a board of trustees consisting of Dr. W. A. Brooks, R. H. Hicks, Rev. J. H. Stribling, A.- E. Fullenwider, Dr. A. C. Walker, Rev. W. E. Copeland, with E. M. Scarbrough (Mayor Ex-Officio) chairman—a strong group of pioneers.

An old abandoned storehouse at the corner of Cameron and Green Streets was appropriated, and the public school of Rockdale was launched. Miss Maggie Hall had a small desk at the front of the room, while W. Wyatt, who was principal, had a small platform at the rear of the room. Mr. Wyatt's only recommendations were that he was a Confederate soldier and he could "wallop" the boys.

One Term Enough

One term for Mr. Wyatt was enough for the board, so Mr. Brickhouse was elected principal.

At the beginning of the next term Miss Hall resigned and built a small schoolhouse where she conducted a private school for girls. Mr. Brickhouse taught alone in the old building, which amounted to a boy's school, as most of the girls attended Miss Hall's school.

At the close of the term Miss Hall accepted the council's offer to rent her school as a public school. She was made principal.

School attendance was growing rapidly. The trustees rented a larger building, the old Brooks Hotel. The school grew under G. W. Rainwater as principal and Miss Ella Meekin as teacher.

Moved School

In two years, the hotel was sold to J. L. Lockett and the school moved to the Methodist Church.

It was Feb. 5, 1883, that the first offficial board of trustees was elected by the people. On the board were A. E. Fullenwider, R. H. Hicks, C. H. Coffleld, James H. Hill, Sr., Ben Loewenstein, Sr., Rev. J. H. Stribling and Rev. W. E. Coupland.

$10,000 worth of bonds were issued and plans laid for a modern brick building to be built on a hill known as College Hill.

A big celebration was held when it opened. J. W. Clark was elected superintendent, with a principal and a fine staff of teachers. Mr. Clark moved away in 1890, when F.L. Norton replaced him for the next nine years.

Then C. E. Brennan became head of the schools. His modern ideas appealed to only a few, and Mr. Clark was recalled. He served until 1910.

Other superintendents were C. G. Green, G. L. Marshall, J. M. Hodges, G. C. Green (the second time), A. W. Franklin, J. C. Wilkerson, S. P. Conn, S. C. Miles, C. M. Selman, W. C. Grissom, and the present superintendent, J. M. Moorman, who came to Rockdale in 1955.

In 1922 a new modern S75,000 brick building was constructed. The old school became a primary building.

New buildings have been added continuously, along with an expanded curriculum. In 1958, buildings were worth $1,800,000 plus the Aycock Negro School which was valued at $216,797. At this time professional personnel in the white schools numbered 50 which included 41 teachers. There were 14 teachers at Aycock School. Average daily attendance in grades 1 through 12 was 1,022 students in the white schools and 243 in the Aycock School. Eight buses carried 331 students to and from school, covering 425 miles each day on the 8 bus routes.

1956 tax valuations amounted to $19,025,010. The tax rate was $1.33 per $100 valuation. A total of S253,00D in taxes was collected that year. School budget for 1957-58 was $491,000. Bonds outstanding amounted to $1,699,000. Sharp Consolldation

At this time, Rockdale High School offered 38 credits and was a member of the Southern Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges. The school district was comprised of 144 square miles.

The Rockdale Board of Trustees adopted a resolution the 22nd day of June, 1964, calling for an election to be held on July 11, 1964, in said district for the purpose of consolidating Rockdale and Sharp schools. Results of the election were favorable and the consolidation approved. The area of the Rockdale Independent School District then comprised 215 square miles.

Aycock Integration

Plan and Policies Goverbing Desegregation of the Rockdale ISD under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were discussed by the board of trustees of the Rockdale ISD. Freedom of choice for desegregation was accepted by the board for the 1965-66 school year.

In that year, grades 9-12 of the Aycock Schools were moved to the Rockdale High School. The first and sixth grades were moved to the elementary school and freedom of choice was given grades 2, 3 and 4 in 1966~67, with the 5th and 7th grades to have a choice in 1967-68.

On April 6, 1967, the board of trustees voted unanimously to move all of the remaining children from the Aycock Negro School to the Rockdale white schools and to have one school for all school age children.

The school year of 1967-68 saw final integration approved and the one school for all was accomplished.


Vocational subjects offered in the Rockdale Schools today include Three Vocational Agriculture classes, two Vocational Homemaking classes, one Distributive Education class, one Vocational Offfice Education class, two CVAE classes and one Building Trades class with 10 teachers.

Special Education is a part of the Rockdale Schools with three teachers to take care of the special needs of these children.

Tax values have risen to $74,300,715 with total taxes collected in the amount of $628,000.

The total school budget will reach $1,200,000 in 1973-74. This does not include lunchroom and activity budgets which combine with the school budget to exceed 1'/2 million dollars.

The Rockdale Public Schools have added a modern Band Hall, Field House, Vocational Agriculture building, Vocational building to take care of the Building Trades and CVAE classes. The total costs of these buildings are as follows: Band Hall - $35,000, Vocational Agriculture Building - $43,000, Building Trades complex - $35,000 and a $42,000 Field House at the football field.

Present day values for replacement of all the School Plant is estimated at $3.3 million dollars.

During the past eighteen years the faculty and administration have worked diligently to improve the school curriculum. Performance-based and individualized instruction have been used to improve teacher competencies.

The following article taken from The Daily Morning News, Sunday, November 20, 1960:
1888 Dlploma Given
Rockdale Library

ROCKDALE, Texas (Sp.)—A diploma of graduation from Rockdale High School, dated 1888, was received this week by Mrs. Ida Jo Marshall, high school librarian, with the request that it be placed among the historical collection in the library of the new high school building.

The large, 72-year-old diploma, was issued to Arthur Loper and carried the signatures of superintendent J. W. Clark, and the first regularly elected school board, previous boards having been appointive.

The first public school class to graduate was in 1886, and the next in 1888. Arthur Loper,member of an early day Rockdale family, died recently in Houston where he had lived for many years.

(Researched by Mrs. lda Jo Marshall)

Within the past seventeen years Rockdale has changed from a small town of 2,200 population to a town of 4,665 according to the 1970 Texas census figures. The population has changed from agricultural to industrial with the large number of industrial workers connected with the $100,000,000 Aluminum Company located nearby.

It is true that the town has changed, but perhaps, the greatest change was the one thrust upon a school system that had sufficed for 74 years as an educational medium for a town of fairly consistent population and a minimum of progress.

The school population had jumped rapidly. The school buildings were outdated and overcrowded, in school corridors, in temporary buildings and in libraries and cafeterias. A normal curriculum became meaningless and demands were such that School Board meetings were held almost daily, faculty meetings frequently and the people of the town faced a challenge to provide an adequate education to their children.

The assessed valuation of the Rockdale Independent School District was S2,618,000 in l95l-52 and was under the control of the city goverdment. Their first step was to separate the schools from the city and to establish tax values which would allow the school district to build enough school buildings to house the large enrollment. Having separated the schools from the city and raised tax values to approximately $20,000,000, the building program was begun.

An intensive study of school building planning was made in an effort to determine the type of buildings that would facilitate the best type of learning experiences necessary to meet the best interests of all the people moving to Rockdale from many various states.

The school board, with the architects, realized that each community had a uniqueness to be considered in planning functional and usable buildings to meet present day demands of education. They planned a building program which is social, flexible and usable.

An important center of sociability is the beautiful patio around which is built the large spacious high school. This area has a large paved court in the middle with grass and flowers around the enclosure. The entire area has more than 5,000 square feet covered with concrete of which 2,400 square feet has a canopy which is well lighted for all student activities. Around the patio is a large cafeteria on one side, with halls leading to classrooms and administrative offtces on the remaining sides. This patio is a part of the planning to make the building both beautiful and functional.

At the high school level the program of study is molded into and around the building. Departments such as vocational agriculture, homemaking commercial, music and athletics have their designated areas where classroom teachers may more easily coordinate instruction and where students may participate in studies with a minimum of interruption.

The high school auditorium seats 800, has commodious stage, acoustical treatment of ceiling and walls, built-in public address system, movie projection booth. It occupies 8,720 square feet.

There are no "quiet" signs in Rockdale's new high school library. Books are within easy reach on open shelves. Orderly students spend one hour a day in research and study.

Rockdale's new $800,000 high school was dedicated in April, 1956. It is designed to house 500 students.

The old high school building was remodeled and now houses the junior high school.

The elementary school was remodeled into a spacious, modern plant for the intermediate grades. An example of the forward steps taken in the school was employment of a speech correction teacher for the first time.

The Aycock High School was constructed for Negro stutents and was considered one of the most modern Negro schools in the state. It had a large gymnasium, off~ces, classrooms, cafeteria, and a home economics department.

With the coming of integration the Negro students attend the white schools.

Superintendent of schools, J. M. Moorman, is a graduate of San Marcos SWTSC and received his Masters Degree at A & M College. He is working toward his doctorate at the University of Houston during vacation periods.

Today's Rockdale Public School System employs 113 employees for the 1973-74 school year, including 22 new teachers. A school budget of $1,13S,846 has been adopted for operation of the Rockdale Public Schools for the 1973-74 school year.

Enrollment totaled 1,643 students as classes opened for the 1973-74 school year in the Rockdale Independent School District.

(Researched by Mrs. Lula H. Moseley)

Prior to 1904, what is now Aycock High School was known as Rockdale Colored Public School. Two teachers comprised the staff. Furnishings were a few battered desks plus a bench or two for the seating capacity. A small table and one chair for each teacher, two boxes of crayons and erasers, plus a tin water pail and dipper made up the school supplies.

Professor S. Adams was the principal. At the close of the Spring Term of 190S, Professor Adams resigned to accept a position in the war department at Washington, D. C. The board of trustees elected Professor B. Y. Aycock as principal, Mrs. Lula H. Moseley as first assistant and Mrs. Minnie D. Smith as second assistant. Mrs. Smith was the first and only graduate of Professor Adams.

During vacation time of 1903, a room was added to the school. This made a total of three rooms.

School opened October 15th 1903. Everyone was happy and proud that the school had three rooms, three teachers, and a larger campus. When everything seemed to be going well, Mrs. Smith became ill and passed away in less than two months. Her position was filled by Professor J. W. Allen.

In 1904 the school became overcrowded. Since no time was left for the consideration of a new room to be built, the thoughtful trustees rented the

Masonic Hall which provided room. Professor S. S. Brewer was elected to fill the place left vacant by the death of Mrs. Smith.

Then the small faculty of four members went to work to plan for what they wanted—a high school. In the first faculty meeting of 1904, the faculty organized. Professor Aycock was president; Mrs. Moseley, secretary; Professor Allen was treasurer; and Professor Brewer, member.

At the second faculty meeting the idea of establishing a school library was discussed. By unanimous consent it was decided to begin at once to raise funds for a start. This was on February 8, 1904. A concert was given to raise funds to begin the library. The Rockdale Recorder gave publicity to the great success with which the concert met and the funds which were raised. It was agreed that volunteer gifts of reading material would be accepted. First books given were the Holy Bible by Professor Aycock, 1904 *es Birthday Almanac by Mrs. Moseley, and The Weekly Recorder by Professor Allen. Thus the first library collection was assembled. Professor Allen was our purchasing agent assisted by Professor Brewer. They selected reference books, dictionaries and an encyclopedia. As more books were given or purchased, more space was provided and a large table for the library was purchased. This became the first library in the Aycock High School. Worthy of mention was the cooperation between the school board and the superintendent.

Members of the school board at this time were Professor Marshall

Superintendent; A. H. Coffield; J. H. Perry; Ben Loewenstein; Sr.; Leonard Isaacs; and J. E. Longmoor. All were very friendly and cooperative.

Due to failing health, Professor Aycock was forced to resign. Mrs. M. C. Allen filled his unexpired term. Her work was so satisfactory that from year to year she was reelected. She served for fifteen years. It was during her principalship that the first real high school building was ordered built. Her resignation was due to declining years and long service.

It was then that Professor D. S. Shanks was elected. He later moved to Austin to enter private business. Then the school board elected Professor O. E. Wilhite to the work undertaken by Aycock, Moseley, and Allen in 1904. At this time grades were due for a change. To some this would have seemed a Herculean task; but not to Wilhite.

With his pleasing personality and faithful determination he gained the confidence of all of Rockdale and respect and confidence of the entire school board with whom he had worked.

The task may have appeared hard at times, yet Mr. Wilhite never gave up. Through his efforts and our wonderful school system, we enjoyed one among many of the beautiful High School buildings in the state—fully equipped in all departments and presided over by qualified personnel.

One of the outstanding additions that was an honor to all of Rockdale was the High School Band conducted by Professor T. R. Howard.

In September, 1965 students from the Aycock school merged with the white students throughout the Rockdale School System.

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