The Lost High Schools of New Castle County series was published over a five-week period in the autumn of 2006. Since the 1960s, seven high schools in northern New Castle County, once centers of their communities, have closed – one ia victim of geography, one of consolidation three from the immediate fallout of a controversial and sweeping district court busing order in 1978 and two that closed in the 1990s as the county tried to deal with lingering effects of racial balancing. As a public service, the Community is republishing the series. Here are links to each story.
Since the 1960s, seven high schools in northern New Castle County, once centers of their communities, have closed – one in 1969, a victim of geography, changing technology and timing (Brown); one in 1971, because of consolidation (Gunning Bedford, formerly Delaware City High School), three in 1978 from the immediate fallout of a controversial and sweeping district court busing order aimed at racial balancing (P.S. duPont, Conrad and De La Warr); and two that closed in the 1990s as the county tried to deal with lingering effects of racial balancing (Claymont and Wilmington).
Through the voices of former students, school system leaders and court documents, this five-part series will examine the lost high schools of northern New Castle County—what the closings intended to accomplish, the effect they had on the students and communities they served, and how each of the school districts affected by the court order are moving forward today.
Week 1 ( as published)
--New vocational high school opens in St. Georges Hundred. Brown Vocational grads, longing for place and connection to past, make a case to name it Brown.
--Remembering H. Fletcher Brown Vocational High School 1938 - 1969
--Remembering Gunning Bedford, Jr. High School/Delaware City High School.
--History of school desegregation in northern Delaware: from Brown v. Board of Education to Evans v. Buchanan, school consolidation and mandatory busing in 1978.
--Remembering P.S. duPont High School, jewel of Wilmington’s Ninth Ward.
--Remembering De La Warr High School. There used to be two high schools in New Castle.
--Lingering effects of 1978 busing order: racial imbalance and declining enrollment close the first public high school to integrate in 1952, Claymont High, in 1990. Graduates call it “the death of Claymont,” but remember the schools indelible place in history.
-- Red Devils remember Wilmington High School, once synonymous with the city. Wilmington High, half empty, is phased out in 1999 to make way for new approaches to filling the city school: Charter School and the magnet school, Cab Calloway School of the Arts.
--Northern Delaware’s busing order is lifted, but the Neighborhood Schools Act of 2000 is passed after school boards maintain busing patterns.
-- Looking forward: Conrad High School returns in 2007 as a Red Clay magnet school specializing in biotechnology and healthcare.
-- Remembering Conrad High of old.