Central High School

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Central High School

Central High School may not originally have had a gym, a cafeteria, or new textbooks, but as the only Black public school in Hillsborough, it did have a community of teachers and principals invested in seeing the students succeed.

The school served students from first through 12th grade. – The public library for the entire Black community was located separately on the grounds, which also served as Ms. Agnes’ Kindergarten. Central High School Hillsborough Negro High School was built in 1936, and renamed Central High School in 1948. The school was rebuilt in 1958 after a fire and ultimately closed by 1970. Currently, the building serves as Hillsborough Elementary School.

Graduates have many memories about their time spent at Central High School. They talk about the winning basketball team, which had to borrow the “white” gym for games. They talk about influential teachers who changed their lives and the strict, but fair principal, A.L. Stanback. Many in town remember the famous names that performed at Central in the 1950s and 1960s; singers like Sam Cooke, James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Ike and Tina Turner, and Otis Redding.

Past students recall all the common activities of high school, such as glee clubs, plays, sports teams, the band, and more. Wayne Bynum remembers how discovering basketball and Coach Richard Lyons changed his life and set him down a positive path.

But Bynum and others also recall the tumultuous year of walkouts in 1968 in protest of a plan for phased desegregation of Orange County Schools. The successful protests led to the full – and contentious –  desegregation of Orange County High School for the start of the next school year.

“The teachers really cared about you being successful. That’s what pushed you.”
– Wayne Bynum