Oconee Alums Speak to DHS/DMS Students
By JASON HALCOMBE
The noise in the halls seemed pretty normal for a Wednesday morning at
Dublin High School.
But the crowd of kids, all drifting toward the gymnasium, fell silent as
soon as Principal Tim Scott got up to speak.
“That’s one of the things I always said I loved about this school,” Scott
told the quieted crowd. “...This is the only place I’ve been where it was quiet
enough that I could talk without needing a microphone.”
The occasion wasn’t a pep rally for the basketball team, or recognition
for school excellence.
It was a history lesson. And an important one at that.
Over the past two weeks, members of the Oconee High School National
Alumni Association and the Black Festival Committee paid visits to Dublin
Middle and Dublin High schools to share the history of the mighty Trojans as
part of Black History Month.
“We actually hadn’t planned a visit to Dublin High,” said organizer Elaine
Berry, “but we had teachers who heard of our visit to Dublin Middle and they
said they’d love for us to come to Dublin High also.”
Oconee High School holds a special place in the hearts of many Laurens
Besides being the city’s high school for black children until integrating
with old Dublin High in 1970, Oconee High School produced many influential
leaders, educators and businessmen; something Berry said may have been
lost on current generations separated more than four decades from
“There was once an Oconee High School,” current Dublin City BOE
chairman and Oconee grad Rev. Richard Sheffield said. Sheffield went on to
elaborate about the school’s history and significance in Laurens County.
Jerry Davis, Oconee High School National Alumni Association president,
gave the history of the school, telling of how Mrs. Muriel C. Bacote, wife of
first principal Lucius Bacote, named the school after the Oconee River that sat
only yards away from the school site off Hwy. 19 South.
Mrs. Ellington Martin followed with descriptions about how integration
created Dublin’s current colors—Green and Gold.
Prior to integration, Dublin High’s colors were Green and White, while
Oconee’s colors were Blue and Gold. The current school colors were the
result of combining the dominant hue of each school.
The focus shifted to the football team, and during Jerry Chatman’s
speech about Trojan football, he elaborated on his own experiences.
Chatman wasn’t an honor student in high school, but finished with a
3.63 GPA during his years at Fort Valley State College.
“You may not start out in the race,” Chatman said to middle schoolers
earlier in the week, “but it’s how you finish the race.”
Berry felt the same.
After growing tired of college right out of high school, Berry left to join
the work force.
“I worked 30 years and retired,” Berry said, “but I realized I could not go
any further without a college education.”
Berry went on to earn a Masters in counseling and psychology;
something she and the rest of the Oconee High visitors wanted the children
to use as motivation in their own lives.
“Some of us were the products of Katie Dudley Village,” Berry said. “We
want the children to know that it doesn’t matter where you come from, what
does matter is the outcome.”