Below- Plan "9" (five-room) Rosenwald classroom building at PCTS under construction c. 1927
photo from NC archives
The Pender County Training school began with one building, but grew to a complex of eight buildings over several decades. Two or three of the classroom buildings, a shop building, and a teacher's home were all built with support from the Rosenwald Fund.
In 1917 residents of the Rocky Point area (in southern Pender County) petitioned for a public school. Per Rosenwald Fund records they contributed $1400, and with support from the Rosenwald Fund and the county they built a four-room school. Enrollment quickly grew to 218 students, and grades 1-7 were taught.
In 1919 the community learned that if they had more land the school could qualify as a teacher-training school. George Cannady, Winslow Nixon and David Bryant Wood donated and/or raised $1,250 to purchase the additional land.
There are different accounts about when Singleton C. Anderson, the influential agricultural teacher who taught for almost 50 years at PCTS, came to the school. A 1947 biography compiled by the United Negro College Fund states that he came to Rocky Point after graduating from the Hampton Institute in 1920. He soon won skeptical parents over with his skill and hard work. He spent many years helping farmers and teaching his students carepentry, masonry, agriculture, animal husbandry, and landscaping. He is credited in a 1950s article with adding over one million dollars of value to the surrounding community.
In 1923 Wilmington merchant D.L. Gore, impressed with the work of the school, donated 10 acres of land.
By 1926 PCTS was thriving and probably added the high school grades in this year. In 1927-28, the school built another Rosenwald building, a plan "9" (H shaped) building for the high school grades. In 1928 the high school became accredited.
As one of only two black high schools in Pender County (the other one was C.F. Pope in Burgaw, which was a private Baptist school at that time), PCTS drew students from many miles around. They often began their journeys before dawn, traveling in the back of a truck or on a bus that was standing-room only.
In 1929 residents of the Mooretown community, a relatively prosperous black community nearby, quite literally threw their lot in with the PCTS. Their children began attending PCTS in 1929, and in 1931 they dismantled a school they had built during reconstruction and used the materials for a new shop building on the PCTS campus. The shop building was another Rosenwald project and was completed in 1932.
Below- Rosalind Smith, an alumna of PCTS, outside Pearsall Gymtorium (1938) on the PCTS campus. She recalls attending many plays, movies and musical performances, and athletic events there.
photo by Claudia Stack
In 1931, John T. Daniel became principal. He served until 1961, and was known for his unrelenting pursuit of academic excellence. By 1956, 25% of PCTS graduates were college-bound, an astonishing accomplishment when one takes into consideration the low-income area, the fact that financial aid as we know it did not exist, and the fact that college opportunities for African Americans were limited by segregation.
Several alumni have confirmed that despite the many vocational training opportunities students had at PCTS, the curriculum that had to be completed for graduation was a college-preparation curriculum.
In 1952, a brick building was built across from the main campus and was known as the "PCTS Annex." It housed the elementary grades, and longtime educator Daisy Ford Scott served as assistant principal and third grade teacher there from 1955-1961. This building is still in use today as the Rocky Point Primary School. Some alumni have said that SC Anderson donated the land for this school; other sources say the land was purchased.
PCTS was renamed "South Pender High School" after F.J. Corbett became principal in 1961, and the main campus ceased operation as a school in 1968. Pender County schools were fully integrated in 1969-1970.
There is an active PCTS/ South Pender HS alumni association, and it boasts many notable members. Among distinguised alumni are artist Ivey Hayes, former ambassador Mattie Sharpless, Cleveland Simpson who served NC under four governors, and many others.
Above- Gift from class of 1944, a walkway outside the gymtorium
photo by Claudia Stack
Sources: Mattie Bloodworth, Howard Holly, Pender County School Board records, Fisk Rosenwald Fund archive records, United Negro College Fund
Page updated 10/9/09