In March 1941, after repeated complaints by “a delegation of negroes,” Wilson County Commissioners were forced to supply two additional school buses to alleviate severe overcrowding on the buses ferrying children to and from the county’s two Black high schools, Elm City and Williamson. A state school commission inspection disclosed that the two buses serving Elm City were carrying 280 children a day on a route that wove across the top half of the county. (Children were picked up in dangerously overcrowded shifts, which resulted in forces tardiness and absences for many.)
The school year was only 120 days and ran from 10 February 1941 to 28 June 1941. Seven teachers taught at Elm City — two men and five women. They taught 164 children — 48 boys and 116 girls. Elm City Colored School housed all grades in one building. It had no restrooms, lunchroom or auditorium. It had no librarian, but it did have a library room.
The high school offered classes in English, general mathematics, geometry, algebra, citizenship, American history, world history, sociology, general science, biology, home economics, and French.
Classes met at 8:45, 9:35, 10:30, 11:30, 1:00 and 2:00. Odelle Whitehead Barnes taught English and French; Clara G. Cooke taught history and English; Mabel Brewington taught home economics and history; Earl C. Burnett taught science and math; and Robert A. Johnson taught math and tended the library on Fridays.
All the teachers were college graduates. Barnes had the most tenure at Elm City, with 8 years; Brewington and Burnett were newcomers.
The school had no laboratories or maps. It published a newspaper, The Elm City Journal; had both girls’ and boys’ glee clubs; a 4-H Club; and an English Club. Elm City Colored School graduated fourteen in the Class of 1941 — William Bynum, Volious Harris, Willie R. Mitchell, Mary Armstrong, Minnie E. Armstrong, Nelia Brown, Essie Bynum, Alice Ellis, BessieLancaster, Clara Lancaster, Eva Lindsey, Ada B. McKinnon, Georgia Toliver, and Marie Wynn.
High School Principals’ Annual Reports, 1940-1941, Wayne County to Wilson County, North Carolina Digital Collection, digital.ncdcr.gov.