History of A.S. Staley High School
by Alan Anderson
With the announcement in July 1935 of federal funding of a new "negro high school" on the site of the old Americus Institute construction was soon begun and A.S. Staley High School opened to students in October 1936, even before the building was completely finished! Named in honor of the Rev. Alfred Samuel Staley, state Baptist leader and preeminent local educator, he had been the long-time principal of Americus' only public school for blacks, McCay Hill School. A.S. Staley High was a 12-room structure "of aeroplane design" with an auditorium, library and principal's of- fice, the latter occupied by E.J. Granberry from 1936 to 1940, when he became president of what is now Albany State University. John Mitchell, recreation director, dedicated the school's play- ground in February 1937. Mayor Thomas L. Bell and Superintendent J.E. Mathis presided at the dedicatory exercises of A.S. Staley High School on June 4,1937. In March 1940, A.S. Staley High School was selected by the John D. Rockefeller General Education Board as one of 13 black schools in the segregated South, the only one in Georgia, for an experimental program in vocational education. The school's cur- riculum was expanded into the fine arts with the addition of a music program by principal Daniel T. Grant in the late 1940's. Within a year of implementation the A.S. Staley band was winning state competitions. Mr. Grant wrote a book in 1956 about his tenure at A.S. Staley entitled When the Melon is Ripe. With the construction of a new "colored high school" in 1957 and the loss to it of principal James L. Bozeman, A.S. Staley be- came a junior high school for the next ten years under Daniel L. DeLoatch. It briefly returned to high school status for three years when Kelsie W. Daniels replaced Mr. DeLoatch, but reverted to a junior high school again with the arrival of racial integra- tion in 1970. After becoming a middle school in 1984, A.S. Staley was thrice certified as a Georgia School of Excellence (1986, 1990, 1994) and once, in 1990, as a National School of Excellence, first under R. Lamar Sawyer and subsequently Clyde A. McGrady, principals. Mr. McGrady has twice been honored, as one of ten outstanding educators in Georgia, with a $25,000 Milken Fund award, in May 1990 and chosen Middle School Principal of the Year by the Georgia Association of Education Leaders in June 1994.