A History of Forest
Dedicated to the Memory of Shellie M. Bailey 1899 - 2001
Principal of Forest Hill, 1934 - 1967
No one knew why or for how long Forest Hill had been called "Forest Hill". All that was remembered was a small frame one-room school building sitting among the oak trees on the site of the current building. Some remembered a previous building. One very elderly man that had spoken one time with Mr. Shellie M. Bailey (the principal during 1934-1967), said he attended a one room log school with a dirt floor and a fireplace for heat in the late 1850's. He said his father told him later that he helped build the school out of logs cut on the site. Tuition was $1.50 per month and he estimated about a dozen children were enrolled. The teacher's salary was paid from the tuition. Teachers would beat on the building with a stick to call children in from recess. So it seems there were at least three small one or two room buildings on this site. All of them got water from a cistern, possibly the same cistern. All were believed to have been built by the people of the community with their own hands and with little or no cost. No one knew when the county or state started helping support the schools. It probably was around 1880.
In 1913, several "substantial Forest Hill men" rode muleback over the area served by five schools and sold the people on consolidating them into one school at Forest Hill. One of these schools was on Robinson Road across from where Provine now stands. Another was on the southeast corner of Terry and McDowell Roads. A bond issue for $8,000 was voted to build a two story frame building with five classrooms down stairs and an auditorium upstairs on the three acre section of land.
Forest Hill was selected to be
the center of one of the first consolidated schools in Mississippi. This
was the beginning of many firsts for Forest Hill. A new building was built on
the site of the old Central Building and was called the Forest Hill Consolidated
School. The two-story frame building was painted red and was considered to be
"ultra modern" in every sense. One teacher was employed to teach twenty-five
pupils reading, writing arithmetic and a "smattering" of grammar in grades one
through twelve. The students sat on handmade benches and warmed themselves by
a "pot-bellied" wood stove. When the time came to recite their lessons, the
young people would come to the "recitation bench. The school had a concrete
basement under the entire building. Home Economics was taught in this basement
- the first in the state.
Look for updates here soon to include old photos of Forest Hill.