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The History of Pomonkey High School

           Pomonkey High School was a product of the aspirations of our fore parents who realized that in order to take advantage of opportunities, one must be prepared. 

            Many of the colored youth who wished to further their education after completing elementary school had to attend schools in the District of Columbia or other cities. This placed a strain on the interrelations of the family as well as the youths themselves. Members of the neighborhood began discussing the possibility of having a school of higher learning established in the community. And so it was, that such group met with the Board of Education for the purpose of requesting a public high schoolThe meeting resulted in the Board agreeing to provide a building and teachers if the parents raised a specified amount of money to supplement the Board.  This group sponsored fundraisers to raise the needed amountThe original name was Colored Industrial School.

 

            The land needed for this project, which consisted of 16 acres, was deeded to the Board of Education on April 7, 1922, by the Joshua Lodge #65 Independent Order of Good Samaritans and Daughters of Samaria.   It was signed by the Order's President, Mr. J. Wesley Key, Sr., and Secretary, Mr. J.T. Slater.

 

            Very anxious for their youth to begin this continued educationthe members of Metropolitan Methodist Church agreed to permit classes to begin in the church's annex until the building for the high school was completed. Upon completion, the classes were moved to the two-story frame building which housed both the elementary and high school students. '

 

            Being the only colored high school in the county meant students desiring a high school education came from all areas of the county to attend classes. There were even students enrolled from our neighboring counties of St. Mary's and Prince George's. Due to the slow mode and almost lack of transportation, these students were boarded, at their parents' expense, in the Pomonkey neighborhood.

 

            Later, a dormitory was built for the purpose of housing these students. Finally, bus transportation was provided. Since the bus had to cross the county, we can imagine how long, bumpy' and tiring the journey was. The dormitory was later used to house the teaching staff.

 

           Records from the Board of Education's minute's show that the first principal assigned was Mr. Alonzo Connelly, to be assisted by his wife, Mrs. Carolyn B. Connelly.  In the beginning, classes were small with basic subject areas of study. The first class to graduate was the class of 1924. Two years of study was required to graduate. The Class of 1925 was required to complete three years in order to graduate. Later the requirements were changed to four years.

 

           Due to increased clasenrollments, a nebuilding was erected for the high school students in 1932The elementarstudents were left in the original two-story frame building (there was a basement, whicoften flooded).

 

           In those daysbasically the subject areas were EnglishMath, History, Home Economics and Agriculture/ShopTeachers were requireto teach more than one subjectAs for extra-curricular activities such as sports and instrumental music, the teachers initiated these activities voluntarily.   

 

            In the school year of 1941-1942, the original high school building was completely destroyed by fireThe first and second grades were housed in the ElksLodge on Route 227 (Livingston Road) and the auditorium of the high schoobecame an "open space" school of sorts fogrades three through seven.  This arrangement continuedpossibly because of the shortage of

materials during World WaII, untithe new elementary school opened in the 1946-194schooyearThe new school was

relocated on Route 22and named J.CParks Elementary

Schoolafteour first Colored Supervisor, and is still iuse today.


              The PTA was a very activorganizationIts members were parentof thelementary and high school students. It was responsible for obtaining the first AfricaAmerican nurse, Theresa Jackson, the firsAfrican-American doctor, Percival Smith, M.D., and thfirst African-American dentist, William Mitchell, D.D.S.  in Charles County.  


            The parents were involved in other school activities such as sales of refreshment(hot dogs and sodason Field Days which were held on the 30th of MayCompetition of games were held between the now two colored high School(Pomonkey and BeAlton) anthe many elementarschools. High School activities included softball and volleyballElementary activities were Sack Races, Egg/Spoon Relays and Flag Relays.


The beginninof the school yeai194meant a new systefothe county.  Elementary grades became 1-6, Junior High grades 7-9 and Senior Higgrades 10-12.  Now twelve years were required iorder to graduate. The commercial course was added to the curriculum thaprovided instructions in typing and shorthand. The first Commercial Class graduated in 1949Due to thadditional gradrequired, there was not a graduating class in 1950. Thclass of 1951 was the first to complete twelve yearbefore graduatingThe year of 1950-1951 markethe beginning of Physical Education and Guidance in the curriculumf


Students participated in various sports events such as basketball, football, and track meets (completing with schools throughout the state) and there were even debating teams. Many of the above offered rewards of trophies, certificates, etc, which instilled incentive and pride to the student body


Three courses of curriculum became the structure-academic, commercial and generalThe first class to graduate under this new structuring was the Class of 1954. Subjects added to the curriculum were art, instrumental music and French. 


            A new building was created and classes began there in 1959. Hardback yearbooks were published and issued for 1955-1969. As integration became a reality in 1962, the students of the area were given "freedom of choice" in deciding the high school they wished to attend.  

           In 1966, the process of rezoning and integration began which meant a change of student bodies in the high schools.  From 1966 to 1969, Pomonkey began to be integrated with the all white schools, Lackey High School and La Plata  High School.  Pomonkey held its last graduation in June 1969. 

          The old Pomonkey High School building was re-opened as a public middle school in 1970, and rededicated as Matthew Henson Middle School.  It was renamed after a Charles County African-American man who was on the “first” to reach the North Pole. 

                                                   


Pomonkey Junior-Senior High School

Address

3535 Livingston Road (currently Matthew Henson Middle School)
Indian Head, Maryland 20640

Information

School type

Public, All Black secondary school

Opened

1958

Closed

1969 (as a high school)

School district

Charles County Public Schools

Principal

Charles J. Coates

Grades

9–12

Enrollment

No longer open

Language

English

Campus

Rural

Color(s)

Blue and White

Mascot

Roaring Tiger

 


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