OCHS Watkinsville Campus

OCONEE COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL

“WATKINSVILLE HIGH SCHOOL”

Those who are older remember the school on this site as the “old high school”, and those a little younger call it the old Watkinsville Elementary School, while those still younger call it the Watkinsville Kindergarten.

The Oconee County High School at Watkinsville began with the construction of the first brick school building at the present site of the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation offices in 1902. This building and school replaced the old Watkinsville Academy which had operated at the site from circa 1874 until 1902.

The students living in the immediate Watkinsville area attended the elementary school at this site while students who had attended the small rural schools from all of the southern and central sections of the county attended this high school. In the beginning the school was a first through tenth grade school. The eleventh grade was added in the early twenties and the twelfth grade was added in 1952. The high school closed at this site in 1956 when this high school was consolidated with Bogart High School and moved to the present site of the Oconee County Middle School on the Mars Hill Road.

In the early years all grades were housed in the 1902 building which consisted of three downstairs rooms and an upstairs auditorium. By the late teens the building had a two story addition placed in the rear of the first section; and the upstairs auditorium was divided in two classrooms. Mrs. Martha Elder Harris and Mrs. Mildred Whitehead Nixon, graduates of 1929 stated that they began school at Watkinsville in 1918 and that the addition was in place before they began school. A downstairs auditorium was added to this building circa 1920. The first floor housed the grammar school while the high school was in four rooms on the second floor. This arrangement continued from circa 1920 until 1932 when a second building, the present offices of the Board of Education was completed. The first four grades of the grammar school were moved to the “little building”. In the early thirties, the first high school sports team began to play basketball and construction of the wooden gym began in 1933. In the mid thirties vocational agricultural and home economics instruction began; a building to house these programs was completed to house vocational business education department and the new twelfth grade. A small wooden two room house and the wooden lunch room completed the campus of this high school; both were first used in the 1940’s.

The 1902 structure, “the big building”, burned in summer of 1954 after a lightning strike. The second story and the front section of the building were torn away and the auditorium was divided into six classrooms before classes began in the fall of 1954.

The first class graduated in 1906, and the last class graduated in 1956 at this school site. The school continued as an elementary school until 1968 and as a kindergarten location until 1987. A brick lunchroom was constructed in the early sixties on the same site as the old wooden lunchroom which was moved to a location on the Simonton Bridge Road. With the exception of the two room wooden house which burned in the sixties, all the buildings remain on the school grounds. The buildings are presently used as the central offices of the Oconee County Public Schools and the offices and classrooms of the Oconee County Cultural Arts Foundation, Inc.