Our Town 2019 SEP-OCT (High Springs & Alachua)

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History of Mebane High Alumni and Teachers Recall Its Storied Past W R IT TE N BY PEGGY M AC DON A LD P H OTO G R A P H Y P R O V I D E D C O U R T E S Y E . S TA N L E Y R I C H A R D S O N


here must be something in the water in Alachua, where teaching seems to run in the family. Cousins E. Stanley Richardson and Kenneth Simmons were raised by teachers and grew up in Paradise United Methodist Church, where many members of the congregation were teachers and school administrators. “All the educators went to that church,” Richardson recalled. “They put a high value on education.” The cousins attended A. L. Mebane School before desegregation, when the school served students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Located at 16401 Northwest County Road 241 in Alachua, A. L. Mebane was one of only two historically black high schools in Alachua County before a federal court order led to the desegregation of the county’s public schools in the middle of the 1969-70 school year.

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At the time, Richardson was in the second grade. He was transferred to Alachua Elementary School. “We lost some friends when integration took place,” he recalled during a recent interview. “It was just so abrupt. Especially as a little kid.” Before Mebane opened in 1956, African American students in and around Alachua attended Alachua County Training School (ACT). Albert Leonidas Mebane was principal of ACT from its opening in 1924 through 1949. The school’s history was featured in the 1970 Hornet, the final Mebane yearbook published before the high school closed. Mebane memorabilia is on display in a history room at Mebane Middle School. Veita Jackson-Carter encouraged the A. L. Mebane High School Alumni Association to establish the history room when she was Mebane’s principal a decade ago. The history room is open to the public and documents the 14 years that Mebane was a high school.