Issue 14 // Winter 2020 // McKinley High School Continues the Legacy
In this season when we celebrate black achievement, McKinley High School stands as the beacon that produced miracles in the lives of so many of its graduates. From the early days of this century to the day that the 44th US President set foot on McKinley soil, to this day, we can look all over this city, state and the world and find members
of the McKinley family making significant contributions in every way. They were taught to believe that eve-rything is possible. And where everything is possible, miracles become commonplace. So, in this Black History Month, let’s celebrate the vision of our founders and the phenomenon that McKinley remains to this day.
McKinley: Strong, Tough, & Durable
There have been many stories of what happened when blacks integrated Baton Rouge Schools, but what was it like when white students came to McKinley? The Gifted and Talented Program was brought to the school in 1982, and although a few whites already attended, the GT Program as it was called really accounted for measurable integration and added a new dimension to McKinley. Armond Brown and Clarence Jones, two administrators during those years, speak of a smooth transition, of administrators preparing teachers and teachers preparing students for a new reality. As a result, McKinley, one of the big three schools of color in the city, had the most successful integration program of them all…at the same time keeping its traditional identity. The gifted classes were separate, but the electives and school organizations were fully mixed. McKinley remains to this day the only one of the three high schools for blacks that maintains an integrated program Although class sizes were different for gifted and traditional, and for a while there were sepa-rate valedictorians and salutatorians to ensure each group received its due recognition; students and teachers, for the most part, accepted and embraced the radical change . They proved that whatever challenges McKinley faced, the school would meet them with strength and dignity. And continue to stand!
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