In 1912, Julius Rosenwald, President of Sears Robuck and Company presented a check for $25,000 to Booker T. Washington to aid Negro Colleges based on the Tuskegee Institute model. In 1913, Washington persuaded Rosenwald to give the $2,100 left over from the Tuskegee Project to Negro communities that wanted to build rural elementary schools.
Councill Training School was built in 1919 with local funds and supplemented with a Rosenwald grant. Grade 1 through 6 were taught in the white frame structure located northwest of Alabama A&M College’s Palmer Hall. There were two classrooms and a large storage room. As enrollment increased, the storage room was converted into a third classroom. Grades were combine –first and second, third and fourth, and fifth and sixth. The school was named for William Hooper Councill, founder of Alabama A&M College. Among its administrators and teachers were Luvenia Minor, Mabel Winston, Dorothy Simpson, Reva White, Thomas McCrary, Georgia True, Patience Lowe, ruby Briggs, Eva Bell, and Ms. McIntyre (first name unknown).
Changes in the school facility, teacher requirements, salaries and curriculum varied only slightly until 1948, when Councill Training school opened the doors of a new building as the first officially recognized public consolidated high school for Negro students in Madison County. It was constructed on Meridian Street, northwest of the Alabama A&M College Campus on 15 acres of land donated by the College. The land was given with the understanding that should the County no longer need the building, it would revert to the College.
The block structure consisted of 14 classrooms; food, clothing, and science laboratories; a gymnasium; a library and lunchroom. Grades 1 through 12 and special education classes were taught by 22 teachers. In addition to the basic curriculum, the school offered such activities as a debate club, a glee club, New Farmers of America (NFA), New Homemakers of America (NHA), The Thespian Society, 4-H Club, calf shows, sewing, baking and oratorical contests at the district and state levels. One highlight of the school was the Councill Training School quartet. Many students excelled in their academic courses as well as what was then known as extra-curricular activities. Moreover, they cultivated lifelong friendships.
Led by its first principal, Dr. Charles Orr, who served from 1948-1953, Councill Training School was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1952. Two other principals served the school: Mr. J. H. Richards (1953-1959) and Mr. Alfred Adams (1959-1970). Under the leadership of Mr. Richards, the school set impressive records in athletics, with championship football and basketball teams. Strong academic programs and highly competitive athletic teams prevailed during Mr. Adams’ tenure.
Councill Training School’s enrollment declined due to the Civil rights Act of 1964. In 1968, the school was renamed Councill Senior High School because it served only grades 10-12. In 1970, Councill Senior High School closed its doors as full integration took effect.
Councill Training School alumni have continued to renew their bonds of friendship through reunions planned by representatives of the school’s 22 graduating classes.
Councillites have chosen many walks of life and have made significant contributions to their families, community and nation. Their lives are better because of their enriching and nurturing experiences at Councill. The history of Councill Training is a rare and rich legacy. It is a reliable, moral, and educational reference point that has been an anchor in holding fast to our culture, our history, and our many traditions. Councill Training School/Councill Senior High is to be saluted as a legacy of love and learning.