Although Heard County is a small,one traffic-light rural community, its school system has gone through some impressive changes over the years. There were not many roads or cars in the early 1900s, so schools had to be within walking distance in order for children to attend school. Consequently, the Heard County School System, at one point, consisted of over forty schools scattered throughout the county. The county contained two high schools until 1954. One was located in Centralhatchee and the other was located in Franklin, where the only high school in Heard County remains today.
Early in the history of the Heard County School System, most of the schools were in very poor condition and consisted of one room, one teacher, and multiple grades of students. Many schools were not painted, had insufficient lighting, and were lucky to have one functioning toilet. The Heard County Court House that was built in 1894 at the price of$30,000 cost the taxpayers more money than all of the school houses combined. In 1917, Centralhatchee High School was one of the better kept schools. It was made up of two classrooms, ample playgrounds, and two teachers. The teachers had to educate 113 pupils that made up seven grades. The only club that existed at the school at the time was a Boys’ Corn Club that only had ten members. The school year term differed throughout the county. Centralhatchee High School Students had to attend for five months. The Principal in 1917 was Joseph Bagwell. This was unusual since the majority of schools did not have a principal.
Franklin High School was also one of the well-kept institutes in Heard County. The school grounds consisted of three classrooms, an auditorium, and a small building for music. There were three teachers to educate 150 students which made up ten grades. The term lasted fora continuous nine months. This means there was no summer break for students and teachers. They had literary, social, and industrial clubs. The principal during the given time was A. H. Johnson.
During World War I, a two-story rock building was erected on a hill above the town. There was a shortage of materials and the inside walls were lined with a heavy grade paste board. In 1929, the school burned, and the paste board went up in flames in a matter of minutes. No one was injured because most were outside for recess. The building was rebuilt using the same rock walls, but it burned again around 1938. This time, only the first floor walls were saved.
By the early 1950s, many of the small schools all over the county had been consolidated along with Centralhatchee High School. There was now only the high school in Franklin that remained in Heard County. The school was made up of multiple grades. Some of the other buildings on campus were the Agriculture building along with the Gymnasium that was made out of rock. The rock gym used to be where graduation and other special programs were held. The gym burned down in the late 1960s and the gym that is there now was built in its place in 1971. As far as sports go, baseball has been around since at least the 1950s. Football was added in 1972. The football stadium was built where the old Agriculture Building, Cattle Barn, and Canning Plant used to stand, and was named Staples Stadium to honor retiring principal Don Staples. Boys’ and girls’ basketball has been around since before the 1940s. According to lifelong resident Thomas Miller, “Basketball was always the big spectator sport of Heard County.” Electives once consisted of Home Economics, Book Keeping, Family Relations, Typing, Agriculture, along with others.Band and Chorus were first offered in the 1950s by Mrs. Andrews, author and composer of the Heard County High School Alma Mater that is still used today.
A field house was built in 1989. In 1991, the middle school (which served grades six through eight) was constructed. In 2002, the middle school was moved to a new campus on Field Road. During the summers of 1993 and 1996, a major construction project upgraded and added buildings to the campus. However, the biggest single construction project in the history of the Heard County School System was completed in 2009 when the new Heard County High School facility was completed. With fifty-two classrooms, Smartboards, multiple computer labs, six tennis courts, a larger weight room (which was expanded yet again in 2013), a softball complex, a music facility, a new field house, and the later addition of an agricultural building, Heard County boasts one of the best high school facilities in Georgia.
*This summary of the history of Heard County High School was researched and written by Ivy Hyatt (class of 2014).