Ayden and Grifton Coming Together in the Time of Integration
Ayden-Grifton High School has not always been one school, in fact Ayden-Grifton High Schools is made up of three schools from two different towns. There’s the town of Ayden and the town of Grifton, both located in North Carolina about 18 minutes away from each other. Before the time of integration the town of Ayden had to high schools; one for black kids and one for white kids. The schools for black students was called South Ayden High, and the school for white students was called Ayden High. As far as we know for the town of Grifton there was only one school which was for white students called Grifton High.
Before the merging of the three schools to form Ayden-Grifton High, there was somewhat of a merger of students attending school in the town of Ayden. The town of Ayden issued a Freedom of Choice. All parents in the town were given applications in which they would mark what school they would like to attend; either Ayden High or South Ayden High. If your parents didn’t turn in your application you were just assigned to the school that was closest to where you lived.
When doing our two interviews with a former black student who was one of the few blacks to attend Ayden and doing our other interview with a former white teacher who taught at Ayden we got two different sides to how the integration process went during the mergers of Ayden and South Ayden High. Ivory, the former black student told us many stories about how white students were mean and showed hatred toward him and the other black students who attended Ayden, and he told us that most of the teachers showed prejudice and treated the black students unfairly. When we interviewed Ivory he told us that the only teacher who was fair and didn’t show prejudice was Mr. Chuck Dunn, and that’s who we did our second interview with. When talking to Mr. Dunn he made it seem like there weren’t many problems with the black and white students together, which was a completely different story from what Ivory had said. The reason Mr. Dunn may have thought that is because he treated all students the same regardless of their color, and when asked in the interview why he did what he did in treating all students fairly Mr. Dunn stated that “Kids are kids, and I never thought of it any different.”
The Pitt County School system seemed to think the same thing, because in 1970 they issued the integration of all schools in the Pitt County District, which is when the merger of Ayden-Grifton came about. In 1971 Ayden-Grifton High School was opened, and all students from the town of Ayden and Grifton regardless of color were to attend this school. This school was located on a 30-84 acre site between the towns of Ayden and Grifton. The school was 121,859 square feet and could hold a capactiy of 1,056 people. The cost of this new school was $1,919,189 and the community helped with the paying for some of the school. T.G. Worthington who was the Chairman of Pitt County Board of Education said, “When the project was initiated it was a dream come true.” Stated in the Daily Reflector (May 1, 1972) “The aim of this project is to give every boy and girl in this county as good an opportunity for a good high school education as could be gotten anywhere.” The merger of Ayden and Grifton High Schools to form Ayden-Grifton High was a successful consolidation of black and white children truly integrated. After 40 years of true integration Ayden-Grifton High School is still up and running teaching the students of the future.
Peace Met by Schools of Grifton. (1966, February 28). The Daily Reflector.
Opportunities offered by New School Lauded in Sunday Education. (1972, May 1). The Daily Reflector.