© Jerry F. Couch
Although the Arty-Lee school at Dante, Virginia closed its doors years ago, it played a very important role in the lives of many people. It is a reminder of the days of racial segregation, but it is also a reminder of a dedicated faculty and a vigorous student body.
The following selection of newspaper articles were compiled from several 1964 editions of the Clinch Valley Times. During the 1965-1966 school year, desegregation reached Russell County. For the first time, African-American students from Arty Lee would attend Castlewood High School.
Take a moment to consider what it must have been like for the former Arty Lee students during their first day at Castlewood High School during the 1965-1966 school year. Most of these students came from Dante’s tightly-knit African-American community. Many of the students had attended the same school with the same classmates and the same faculty throughout their student careers. Suddenly they were attending an unfamiliar school where they constituted a recognizable ethnic minority.
On the plus side, the Arty Lee students had access to more scholastic programs at Castlewood due to the size of the school. They also didn’t have to travel long distances to other schools to play sports due to lack of facilities at their own school. They had access to a larger library and additional extracurricular activities.
It would be far too easy for those of us who weren’t in the Arty Lee students’ shoes to say “The transition was easy,” or, “There wasn’t any trouble.” Well, trouble is always harder to spot when you’re not on the receiving end of it. There were improper remarks; there was bullying. Thankfully, we all learned and we all grew as human beings – together.
SCHOOL ACTIVITIES AT ARTY LEE By Brenda Hicks — The school year of Arty-Lee 1964-1965 got off to a good start with 126 students enrolled. We welcome back the principal, faculty and students, old and new. Principal: Mr. John Cox, Jr. Faculty: Mrs. L. Y. Scott, Elementary and Home; Mrs. R. B. Brown, Elementary and typing; Mrs. W. W. Chambliss, Elementary and music; Mrs. S. M. Brown, English; Mr. E. D. Robinson, social studies; Mr. E. R. Hutchinson, mathematics; Mr. R. B. Weatherton, science.
PLAY ELIZABETHTON TONIGHT — Thursday night the Arty Lee Braves go to Douglas High School at Elizabethton to start our football season. We hope for a victory over Betsy.
STARTING LINE-UP — The starting line-up is: Harry Lee and Frank Kincaid, ends; Carter Yates and William House, tackles; Robert E. (Frog) Williams, center; Mike (Lanky) Cain, quarterback; Richard (Dewey) Hicks and Donald (Duck) Hicks, halfbacks; Joe Adams, Jr., fullback.
CHEERLEADERS — Cheerleaders are Florence Robinson, Florence Hicks, Emily Yates, Margaret Martin, and Marcella Mabry.
ARTY LEE SCHOOL HONOR ROLL — GRADE 12: Albert Davis; GRADE 11, Marstella Brown, Donald Hicks, Richard Hicks, Linda Letcher, Marcella Mabry, and Florence Robinson; GRADE 10: Brenda Hicks, Charles Scales; GRADE 9: James Mabry, Emily Yates; GRADE 6: Margie Kincaid, Elizabeth R. Scott; GRADE 5: Arthur Mabry; GRADE 4: Paul Adams, Robert Brown, Fred Gose, Rachel Scott; GRADE 3: Vernon Brown, Damon Hale, Wayne Foster, Stella Talford; GRADE 2: Marvin Cain, Joy Hale, Pamela Brown, Robert White.
ATTEND DISTRICT MEETING — Teachers from Arty Lee School who attended the 9th District Teachers Association meeting in Bristol at the Douglass High School were Mrs. W. W. Chambliss, Mrs. Sarah Brown, Mrs. Rubye Brown, Mrs. L. Y. Scott, Mrs. Thelma House, Mr. Elijah Robinson, Mr. Robert Weatherton, and Mr. John Cox.
ARTY LEE RAPS MARION 100 – 46 — The Arty Lee Braves of Dante rolled to an easy 100 to 46 triumph over Carnegie High of Marion at Lebanon Thursday night in a non-conference affair. Joe Adams led the way for coach Bobby Weatherton’s Braves with 39 points, while Mike Cain scored 24, William House had 13, and Don Williams added 12. Danny Plumber had 13 for Marion.
NINE TO GRADUATE FROM ARTY LEE — The 1964 graduating class of Arty Lee High School is made up of nine students. Loretta Sanders is Salutatorian and Albert Davis, Valedictorian. Baccalaureate Sermon will be delivered by Rev. Marshall Strickland of Bristol on Sunday, May 24th at the school. Commencement Exercises will be May 28, at 8:00 p.m. at the school.
The following students will be graduated: Jessee Anderson, Sharon Foster, Ezekiel Gibbs, Jr., Claudette Cain, Loretta Saunders, Alfred Hicks, Albert Davis, Spencer Foster, and Tommy Williams.
JUNIOR-SENIOR PROM — Friday night, May 15, 1964 the Junior-Senior Prom was held in the Arty Lee High School auditorium, beginning at 8:00 p.m. The theme for the evening was “Tender is the Night” and the room was beautifully decorated in blue and gold. The girls were all visions of loveliness in their gowns but the boys were no exception in their spring formals. The music was furnished by a “juke box” but that did not take away any of the enjoyment. The seniors of 1964 wish to thank the juniors for a wonderful evening that will be long remembered.
***PART 2 OF THIS STORY WILL BE FEATURED NEXT WEEK***