East Coweta High School History
(Taken from "The Historical Significance of the Names of the Buildings and Grounds and the School Seal of East Coweta High School," Michael Wayne Mayhall, 1988)
Education in eastern Coweta County probably began for the children of frontiers venturing into Indian territory in the early 1800's. At that time, what would become Coweta County, was a lush wilderness inhabited by "squatters" seeking to establish themselves in rapidly expanding Georgia (Tranquil Cemetery near Turin has headstones indicating interment as early as 1807). Children were often sent to learn reading and writing from any nearby neighbor who had those skills. [Crane: The Southern Frontier]
After the county was established (June 9, 1825), following the controversial Treaty of Indian Springs (March 1825), settlers entered and settled from east to west. Thus eastern Coweta was the first-settled part of the county with Kedron, Preston, White Oak, and Haralson as the leading early communities.
The wealthy established privately funded white academies almost immediately. It is believed that Preston Academy was existent in 1827. The poor of that day had to swear a pauper's oath to receive "poor school" funds for their education--few would do so. Even so, in 1833, five school districts were laid out in the county, and trustees were authorized to apportion the "Poor School Fund." It is unknown exactly which districts were formed. They probably included Kedron, White Oak, and Haralson.
In 1836, a "common school" fund was established by the state to combine academies and poor schools resulting in free education for all. However, the funding stopped in 1839. Once again, private academies and poor schools characterized the years 1840-1958. The major academy established in this part of the state in that era was eastern Coweta's own Longstreet Institute (1849), attracting the brightest scholars and professors from throughout the area.
Few white schools continued consistently through the war years of 1861-1865 and the reconstruction years through 1870. An exception was the Methodist-sponsored Senoia Institute, which flourished from the time of the founding of that city in 1865. Also, the Freedman's Bureau established free black schools in 1865 but funded them only through 1870 (we have no record of the names of any of those black schools). Nevertheless, the Coweta County Public School System was optimistically established in 1871 with Radford E. Pitman of Sharpsburg as commissioner (superintendent.) Common schools free to all the children of Georgia were resurrected in that year. However, in the three months of school offered then by Coweta schools, only 671 whites of 2055 eligible were enrolled.
Those early, shaky years gave way to an era of unbroken progress beginning in 1873. By 1879, Coweta County Schools employed forty-five white and twenty-six black teachers, and by 1893 there were forty-eight white and forty-four black schools. In 1898 the school year was increased to 100 days, and by 1927, Coweta was one of only fifteen counties statewide to have a full nine-month term and ranked third in the percentage of rural pupils in high school. Hoke Smith donated the first library (circulating among the various schools of the county), in 1901.
Consolidation efforts began earnestly in 1918 when J. Marvin Starr became superintendent. The first major consolidation took place around Sharpsburg and Turin. Ultimately, when Starr High School opened in 1921, it was hailed statewide as the most modern and innovative of rural high schools.
In 1922 there were thirty-two white public schools in the Coweta County School System. At that time Senoia area schools had an independent public system. By 1926, that number had been reduced to five, and by 1937 to twelve. Yet there were still forty black schools throughout the county.
After World War II, consolidation efforts intensified. East Coweta High School was founded on April 17, 1946 when the Coweta County School Board "ordered that the Haralson, Raymond, Starr, and Senoia school operate East Coweta High School at Starr School for the ensuing year." This ended a series of ever more inclusive consolidations which had begun years earlier. By 1955, the black schools had been combined into four schools.
Total integration began in Coweta County Schools, along with the merger with the Newnan School System, in 1970. With extensive metropolitan Atlanta's growth during the 1970's and 1980's, especially in eastern Coweta County, additional construction was required.
In the fall of 1988, the high school students of Moreland, East Newnan, White Oak, Major, the traditional East Coweta area, and all parts in between merged to culminate the consolidation efforts begun so long ago.
In an effort to recapture and preserve some of eastern Coweta's educational roots and to honor our forebears, the buildings and grounds of the new (1988) campus bear the names of three groups:
- The major consolidated schools ultimately resulting in the present East Coweta High School.
- Preston Academy - Preston Hall is the area housing the Main office/Guidance Office/Attendance Office. Preston Academy was the oldest documented school in East Coweta County (1827?-1884)
- Brantley Institute - Brantley Halls, East and West, houses the English, Social Studies, and International Languages Departments. Brantley Institute of Senoia was recognized as the leading school of its day in a multiple county area.
- Longstreet Institute of the Ebenezer/Coke's Chapel community - Longstreet Hall is the main hall of the school. It connects the main entrance to the rear entrance. Longstreet Institute was the major antebellum school in a multi-county area producing a host of outstanding alumni.
- Starr High School of Sharpsburg - Starr Hall is the math and business education hall. Starr High School was the first consolidated high school in Coweta County.
- Moreland High School - Moreland Hall is the science hall. Moreland High School was the major consolidated high school for south central Coweta County.
- Haralson High School - Haralson Hall is the fine arts hall. Haralson High School was the major consolidated high school for extreme southeastern Coweta County.
- Rock Springs Academy/School of the community of Major. Rock Springs is the name of the ECHS greenhouse. Rock Springs Academy/School was the most significant school in northeastern Coweta County.
- Educational leaders who founded and strengthened the school system.
- Radford Edward Pitman - Pitman Hall is now known as the Media Center. Pitman (1835-1880) was Coweta County's first public school superintendent (1871-1880). He was a settler on the land on which East Coweta High School is currently located. He was the great grandfather of Eddie Hewlette Pitman who provided the land for the school.
- Hoke Smith - Hoke Smith Reading Room is now referred to as the Career Center. He was a lawyer, publisher, politician, educator and a crusader for improving education in rural schools of Georgia. In 1901, Smith donated to Coweta County Schools its first library.
- Sarah Fisher Brown - Brown Hall is the Technology/Career Education (Vocation) hall. Brown High School of Moreland was the major black high school of its era; it was founded by and named for Sarah Fisher Brown, who was an innovative educator.
- Walter B. Hill - Walter B. Hill Courts is the name of the school's tennis courts. Walter B. Hill Industrial School was a major black area school. Walter Hill was named for the long-time state supervisor of black schools. It closed in 1954 when it was consolidated into Eastside School.
- Indian names linking the present to our historic past.
- McIntosh Trail - known as Old Highway 16. The authentic and historic McIntosh Trail was the most important Indian trail in this part of the state. It connected Coweta Chief McIntosh's home at Indian Springs with his reserve on the Chattahooche River (about two miles downstream from present-day Plant Yates.)
- Muskogee - known as Front Campus Drive. It was named to honor the true name of the Creek Indian Nation, which was the Muskogee Nation.
- Princess Senoya Drive - known as Back Campus Drive. It was named to honor Senoya He-ne-ha, the mother of Coweta Chief William McIntosh and probably the namesake of present-day Senoia.
Ball play was the most important game among the Muskogees. The ball playground was central to every Indian village. Games came to replace warfare among tribes and victory meant domination over all defeated tribes. The Cowetas were the dominant tribes for most of known history indicating their superiority in ball play. The East Coweta ball fields are named for the three major Coweta tribes.
- Broken Arrow Field - The football practice field
- Coweta Field - The football stadium
- Cusseta Field - The baseball/softball field