Greenbrier Alumni 


by Dean Mallett 

November 1975

The beginning of public schools in Greenbrier, a rural town of 1,115 people located in central Arkansas on U.S. Highway 65, may be attributed to the coming of the first settlers to the small town in 1857. These early settlers built several log cabin schoolhouses in the vicinity, but not until 1878 was a public schoolhouse built in the present site of Greenbrier. The Constitution of 1874 had provided the initiative for this action by passing Article XIV which provided for the establishment and maintenance of a system of free public schools and authorized the levying and collecting of a school tax.. 

This two-story building, which was located behind the present site of the First State Bank in Greenbrier, not only served the community as a school but also as a Masonic Lodge and church. On April 17, 1879, with a population of 350, the Greenbrier School District was formed as a result of a petition presented by M. E. Moore and 52 other citizens. The district was formed from a part of the Hardin and Union townships. 

With the creation of the new district came the construction of . a new school building in the early 1880's to be used solely for educational facilities. This two-room schoolhouse, which was located a mile north of the former school, accommodated eight grades and had an average attendance of 100 to 125 students. The two teachers taught a variety of subjects such as physiology, English, geography, arithmetic, reading, writing, and spelling. Generally, the school term ran from five to six months in the winter with an occasional summer school. 

By the end of the late 1800's the small town had prospered immensely. The population continued to grow as cotton production increased and transportation routes were improved. The town became a trading center for the nearby farmers. As the town grew, the number of school-age children increased, which necessitated the building of a larger and better school. Thus in the early 1900's a new two-story building was constructed at the present site of the school. A few years later the district constructed another two story building just east of the main building. These two buildings housed all eight grades, and the school had an average of one teacher per two grades. The top story of the main building was used by the Woodmen of the world. 

The school had prospered as the town increased in importance as a trade center and the population had increased. The citizens of the small thriving town had taken an intense interest in the school and had greatly improved the educational facilities. However, the early 1900's was a period of decline for the community and school as well. The town had suffered as Conway grew in importance because of the railroad. The depression of the early 1920's also hurt the town, but it suffered a greater set-back in 1923 when U.S. Highway 65 was built from Little Rock to Harrison, by-passing the town six miles to the west. This diverted much of the town's western trade to Conway. 

It seemed a period of stagnation for the small town and for the school. The number of students increased very little from 1880's total, and the number of grades increased only by the addition of the ninth grade. 

The school began its new era in 1925 when Mr. A.J. Troxell was hired as the principal of the school. Having suffered many setbacks in his own education, Mr. Troxell began to fulfill his dream of making available a free high school education to all who were interested in furthering their education. As the funds became available, grades were added each year. In 1925 the school had only nine grades and three teachers, but by 1929 Greenbrier could boast of twelve grades and a graduating class of approximately nine. As the educational facilities and the transportation system continued to improve, the move for consolidation began. 

Almost all of the surrounding rural schools were unable to provide a high-school education to their students because of lack of funds. Most of the citizens realized that by combining their funds and consolidating, the possibility of a better education would increase. A few of the people, however, opposed and bitterly fought consolidation for various reasons. They felt that if the school was taken out of the community, the town would die; that the value of their property in the district would decrease; and that it was too far to transport their children. Others were just plain conservatives who hated to see changes made in their old way of doing things. The move for consolidation, however, had begun, and it would take more than a few to stop it. 

By 1930 Districts had been added to the Greenbrier School District. These districts included such schools as: Needs Creek, Springhill, Blackfork Rural Special, Republican, Bono, Pleasant Valley, Wooster, Mt. Grove, Chinquapin, East Shady Grove, Blair, Martinville, etc. 

Grade schools remained at a few of the larger communities, such as Wooster, Republican, Martinville, Blackfork, and Holland. The Wooster community had opposed the consolidation more than any. other districts, and managed to retain their junior high school until 1952 and their grade school until 1961. 

Many of the larger districts, which were also involved in consolidating small districts into their own, resented the part that Greenbrier was playing in consolidating these school districts so rapidly. : However, the fact that Greenbrier has had such an early growth due to its position as a trading center for all of the nearby farms made it a strategic place for centralization. Rivalry developed between Greenbrier and other school districts because the latter felt that Greenbrier would try to eventually take their students or take a district which they felt should be consolidated with theirs. The smaller districts which had opposed consolidation were forced to dissolve into larger districts unless they had more than 350 enumerates by the School Reorganization Act of 1948. 

By 1964, 24 districts had been absorbed into the Greenbrier School District, which covers an area of 145 square miles and the number of students had increased from 125 to over 600. The high school had increased its rating from a "D" school with 83 units in 1927 to a "C" rating with 14 total units in 1929. The curriculum began to expand as teachers were hired and diverse subjects such as plane geometry, algebra, problems of democracy, general science, biology, world and American history, geography, American government, sociology, psychology and agriculture were added. 

The teachers had begun to teach by subjects instead of grades. In 1929 Mr. Troxell returned to State Normal School in Conway to obtain the necessary courses needed to qualify as a vocational agriculture teacher. Through aid furnished as a part of the Smith Hughes Act of 1917, he and the boys at the school built the first agriculture building and that same year won the State Southern Championship in judging at Memphis. The vocational agriculture teachers were called at that time Smith-Hughes teachers. The course was not limited to boys, and several girls were active in the program until the establishment of home economics classes shortly thereafter. 

As the school program continued to grow, the students began to center their activities around the school. These activities included such things as box suppers, plays, etc. The students held their basketball games outside, since there was no indoor gymnasium. Occasionally, Greenbrier had matched games with other schools, such as Needs Creek, Springhill, etc., and traveled to and from these games by wagon. There was great rivalry between these schools as interest in the sport increased. 

The need for more school funds for operating expenses became apparent as the curriculum and the school continued to expand. In 1927, the Arkansas Legislature had passed an act creating the State Equalizing Fund for Free Public Schools. This fund was established to provide money to consolidate high schools and to build new buildings. The principal, Mr. Troxeli, went before the County Board of Education in 1928, and then to the State Department of Education. There he presented the school's proposed plan for further consolidation and asked for $31,000 in state aid for operating expenses. Throughout the years 1928, 1929, and 1930, Greenbrier received $32,000 annually. At this time the school was the largest rural consolidated high school in Arkansas, both in area and number of students. The student body continued to grow, and in 1930 the first brick building was constructed. This building housed all twelve grades and stood until 1965. The industrious citizens of the community took the lumber from the old two-story building and in the latter part of 1939 constructed an in-door gymnasium. Except for one in Conway, this gymnasium was the first in Faulkner County. All of the labor except for that of the head carpenter was donated by the citizens. The coach, Royce Williams, supervised the construction. 

The new brick building housed the first high school library. Up until this time, each grade had maintained a small library. The new library was supervised by the high school English teacher. A small grade school library was also begun. Further construction was halted at this point, as the depression began to leave its imprint upon the community. 

As the depression became severe, school aid was reduced, and in the school year of 1930-1931, the school ran out of money after being in session only seven months. In order to enable the students to finish out the year, various teachers finished out the rest of the 

year receiving no salary, and boarded with various patrons in the community. In 1932 because of the lack of funds the high school closed down, and only the first eight grades continued. The teachers' salaries were cut to $50 per month. In 1933 the high school reopened. For the next few years, the teachers were paid in warrants. To further aid in keeping the schools open, the students paid a small tuition for the few semesters and shorter school terms were held. 

The school continued its struggle for existence throughout the years of the depression. An upward trend, ushered in by the New Deal, began in 1935. One of the programs the New Deal legislation provided was summer school, which enabled students to catch up on the grades or credits they had missed. Another one of the New Deal programs provided for the establishment of the National Youth Administration. This program gave the young people jobs as they constructed new agriculture and home economics buildings and a small heating plant from native rock in 1940. The students also did various jobs on the school campus, such as maintenance work on the buildings and grounds. 

The school was given another significant boost in 1942 with the relocation of U. S. Highway 65 through Greenbrier. This change helped to bring the stagnant town into a period of rejuvenation as the population began to increase and small businesses in the town became more prosperous. 

The school continued its upward trend after World War II ended. Surplus buildings were secured from the army between the years of 1945 and 1950 and converted into the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade rooms and a lunchroom. In 1947 the hot lunch program was instituted at the school. In 1947 the old home economics building from the Wooster school was moved to Greenbrier and the 4th and 5th grades were also moved from the main building. This left only the 6th grade in the high school building, and it remained there until 1961. By the close of the war, each elementary grade had one teacher, and by 1948 the school had a total of 29 teachers. 

By the early part of the 1950's the community had begun to 

take a greater interest in the welfare of the school. 

In 1953 the Parent-Teachers Association was organized with about 150 active members. The PTA began immediately to work for the further improvement of the school and the community. The school continued in its earlier moves of consolidation and during the 1950's the elementary schools at Republican and Holland were moved to Greenbrier, as was the junior high school at Wooster. By the fall of 1956 the student enrollment totaled over 550 students. 

As the community interest in the school  continued, so did the facilities for the students. Since it was one of the largest high school gymnasiums in the county and because of its large seating capacity, it has been the site of numerous State B Junior and Senior Basketball Tournaments. Baseball facilities were also updated, and in 1966 a football program was begun. 

In 1947 the school moved from its previous class rating of "B" (which it had acquired in 1937) to class "A" with a total of 243 units. The curriculum had expanded immensely and now included economics, piano, music appreciation, ancient history and harmony, stenography, typewriting, music history, health, pre-flight, bookkeeping, aviation study, and journalism. 

Again, the need for larger and better facilities arose as the enrollment increased and the curriculum expanded. In the spring of 1960 the grade school occupied the new elementary building, which was constructed at the cost of $117,086. A former grade school building was converted into a science building with the aid of federal funds. With the expanded facilities, the grade school students and the faculty of the Wooster School were moved to Greenbrier. Except for the African-American students, consolidation was complete. 

In keeping with its program of expansion, the school completed the new high school building in the summer of 1965 at a cost of $107,580, and occupied the new building in the fall of the same year. The Neighborhood Youth Corp was employed that summer in tearing down the old building, preparing the new one for occupancy, and working on the school grounds. 

That same year, in compliance with Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Law, the school board made the following announcement, come go 10 "At the beginning of the 1965-66 school year the Greenbrier Public School shall be open to all students of the district, regardless of race, color, or national origin, who apply and are otherwise qualified.." In May of that same year, the board was notified of the approval of the Desegregation Plan by the U.S. Office of Education. The official school census, completed May 1, 1964 showed a total of 642 white students and 33 African-American students in the Greenbrier School District No. 47.

Since 1961 the grade school has continued to make tremendous strides toward the improvement of their educational program. In 1961 the position of Elementary co-ordinator was established and filled by Mrs. Dean Martin. In 1965 she was promoted to the newly established position of elementary principal. That same year the grade school counselor program was instituted as a pilot program with the aid of federal funds. The grade school in 1968 

had a total of twelve classrooms and twelve teachers. 

The Greenbrier Public Schools received a total of $225,288 in revenue during the 1966-67 school year and spent a total of $218,158. The assessed valuation of the school at that time was $1,614,840. The attendance for the 1967-68 school year was 661 students, 

with over half of these students in grade school. There were 27 teaching positions with an average teaching salary of $4,979 per teacher. In 1973 six elementary classrooms and a cafetorium were added to the elementary school making a total of 18 elementary classrooms-- three sections per grade. - 

The enrollment for 1975-76 is 1,016 students plus a kindergarten enrollment of 58. The total budget for the current year is $654,000. The current staff at Greenbrier school numbers 63, forty-three of which are certified teachers. The outlook for the public school in Greenbrier is a bright one. The citizens of the district, while striving to make the community a better one in which to live, also seek continually to upgrade the school system in order to provide their children with the most modern and up-to-date educational facilities possible. 

The curriculum is expanding each year in order to meet the needs of the adults and leaders of tomorrow. The adults and the students not only take pride in their scholastic achievements but also in their cultural and social ones. There are needs and problems to be met, but with enthusiasm and faith the community will be able to meet and solve these problems as they arise.