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 Surrattsville H.S.

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School History

The following is an excerpt on Surratts history from a booklet that the Prince George's County Retired Teachers' Association put together to celebrate the American bicentennial in 1976:

Surrattsville Elementary and High School. 

The Surrattsville School was established on a county knoll, at what today is the intersection of Route 381 and Surratts Road.  It was built shortly after the War between the States and most appropriately, the school colors were blue and gray.  The school took the name of the community which was in the election district of Prince George's County named from the Surratt family.  Mrs. Mary Surratt who was victimized and paid with her life in the hysteria following President Lincoln's assassination was from this family.  The Board of Education minutes of August 14, 1906 read as follows: "ordered that Surrattsville School be hereafter run as a district high school and primary school combined at an additional cost not to exceed $400 per annum."  Thus, the second high school in Prince George's County was authorized for the sum of $400.  However, physical property needs of 1906 dictated a large shelter for 10 horses and buggies; two enlarged outhouses with extra accommodations; a new pump and well; and an increase in the campus to allow baseball to be played.  Note these actions of the Board of Education:


 9/25/1906 - Mr. Eugene Burroughs, later to become Superintendent of Schools in 1914, was appointed Principal at a salary of $500, raised in 1908 to $800.

 5/5/1914 - Mr. Burroughs appointed Superintendent, and Mr. F. B. Gwynn, later to become Superintendent of Schools in Charles County in 1921, was made Principal.

 8/16/1917 - Mr. J. A. Carrico was placed "at head of the elementary school".


9/25/1906 - Board ordered that "manual training" be taught.

1/21/1907 - Board ordered that "principal be allowed to establish a military organization at Surrattsville High"

9/24/1907 - Board ordered that French be taught.

7/21/1908 - Board authorized a "Commercial Department".

10/5/1915 - Board ordered "Commercial to be dropped and that domestic science and agriculture be emphasized".


Physical Plant:

 3/21/1909 - Board ordered that a building committee of six people be appointed for the Surrattsville area.

 7/11/1919 - Special meeting of the Board at Surrattsville to accept the building.  The old building sold at auction for $200.

 9/2/1910 - Ordered that floors for Surrattsville High be oiled.

 1/27/1911 - Ordered that $69.45 raised by pupils be used to grade the school grounds.

 1/11/1927 - Board recommended a bond issue for an assembly hall.  Part of the money was marked for inside plumbing and sanitary facilities.

 This one building continued to serve the elementary grades of school for this area until after World War II when separate facilities were built for elementary, junior and senior high students.


Award of Diplomas:

 On May 14, 1907, the Board "ordered that diplomas be awarded to the graduates of the Surrattsville High School."  There was only one graduate in 1907 and also one graduate in 1949 when the transition from 11 to 12 grades occurred.

One June 8, 1909, among the five graduates of Surrattsville was Avis Middleton (Thomas S. Gwynn, Jr.'s mother).  She was the first of three generations to graduate from the same school.  Thomas S. Gwynn, Jr. And his seven brothers and sisters graduated from Surrattsville High as have three of his children.

Miss Middleton in the September following her graduation from the Surrattsville High School became the principal of the Forestville Elementary School.

One of the opening day daily rituals was to take the first three grades outside to the pump and have everyone clean his teeth.  Little collapsible tin cups were used.  This ritual focused on health habits.

A big job, sought by many pupils, was to go on top of the two-story building to lower the flag at the end of the school day.  Actually, it enabled the selected students to leave the classroom a few minutes early in order to perform the chore.

The custodian had a favorite trick of telling the children he kept a bear in the dark, cavernous basement and to prove it, he would make it growl -- which was done by shoveling the coal!

The chief games at lunch hour were "Fox and Dog" and "Prisoner's Base" -- both entailing much running and pursuit.  The big outside bell could be heard a half-mile and time was allowed for all to get to class.

After World War II this school plant and its site became the junior high as a new senior high was built one-half mile away and a new elementary building was built one-quarter mile away."


School History from the '50s

The following is an anonymous School history that we believe dates from the 1950s:

"Surrattsville High School History:   Surrattsville School ... ten miles from the Nation's Capital ... along the Leonardtown Pike in historic Southern Maryland ... the school on the hill catches the eyes of passers-by ... yes, it is a pretty place.  Here, the fundamental three R's have been taught for the past half century.  Prior to 1910, Surrattsville School, the second oldest school in Prince George's County, was a small frame building.  The school was not too crowded at that time, so the one-room school building at Piscataway was abolished and those students transferred to Surrattsville.  Many children walked long distances, rode horse-back, or came to school in horse and buggy fashion, these being the popular modes of transportation of the day. A small stable was provided at the school for feeding and sheltering the horses.

Mr. Eugene S. Burroughs was the first principal of the school, receiving an approximate salary of $750 a year.  In 1908 the total expenses for running the school was $1,673.19, which included the cost of books, teachers' salaries, fuel, and other miscellaneous expenses.  The total enrollment for this year was 107, of which 68 were in the elementary grades.  In addition to the three R's, history, Latin and French were taught.  A Commercial Course was included in the curriculum at the that time.  A Cadet Training Corps was a prominent feature around the school then.

The 1908 graduating class had three members, Miss Ursula Gwynn, Miss Bertie Baden, and Mr. Phil Hatton; however, Ms. Blanche Hurtt had graduated the year before in 1907, being the only member of the first graduating class of the Surrattsville High School.  Surrattsville was a growing school.  In 1910, to take care of the overflow of new students, many with perfect attendance, a larger frame building, with six rooms, was built where the present auditorium now stands.

In 1915, at the time the furnace was being built, James T. Hawkins, better known as 'Uncle Jimmy,' was hired as school custodian.  Uncle Jimmy died in October 1950 after 35 years of faithful service to the school.  He left a spot which no other can fill as far as memories are concerned.

Few changes were made in the daily routine of our school, other than slight increases in enrollment and a few added courses, until 1925.  From then on rapid changes took place.  Transportation was now furnished by the county, eliminating those long walks, etc., of the previous era.  The Commercial Course, which had been dropped from the curriculum for a while, was now revised and brought back.  Hot lunches were served on a small scale.  Athletics played a big role in the school.  The students had long since outgrown the six-rrom building and the present school was built.  In 11940 a public address system was installed in the school.  Activities to interest all the pupils were organized such as, the Student Council, YMCA, Future Teachers of America, the school newspaper, and others.  In 1945 the new 6-3-3 plan was introduced to the county, so today the Surrattsville School is a combination graded, junior high, and senior high.

Today we have enlarged our school by adding six additional classrooms, a modern gymnasium, and ultra-modern cafeteria.  Our school is now among the finest and best equipped in the whole state.

Our eyes are on the future, with the hope and promise to make Surrattsville one of the best educational institutions ever.  Under the administrative leadership of Mr. John M. Pryde, our principal, and the guidance of a fine staff of teachers, this goal for the future will be accomplished. 

Yes, Surrattsville is a pretty place ... we are keeping an eye on the past, while planning for the future."

These "Facts About Surrattsville" appeared in the Clinton VFD Old Timers Club's 2006 calendar (along with lots of great historical photos of Clinton):

"In 1869 it was a small white frame building with adjoining stable and outside plumbing fixtures.  In 1907, on June 3rd, Surratts had its first graduate, Blanche Teresa Hurtt.  In 1917 a new two story frame structure was built.  In 1919 the old school building was sold.  In 1948 two rooms were added to the two story frame.  In 1952 a new annex building, containing a modern cafeteria, multi-purpose room, gymnasium, home economics facilities, science lab and six classrooms, was added.

School Colors: 1907: blue and gray; 1929: blue and gold; 1944: maroon and gold; 1950: green and white.  Yearbooks: 1929: The Blue and Gold; 1938: The Shield; 1944: Salmagundi (Spanish for mixture of things); 1946 - Present: The Boomerang.

Alma Mater: written by Rosa Ferris in 1951.

Principals: Mr. Eugene Burroughs, 1898 - 1899, 1901, 1014; Mr. Arthur Meloy, 1899-1901; Mr. T. B. Gwynn, 1914-1918; Mrs. MacKay, 1918-1922; Mr. Summers, 1922-1927; Mr. High, 1927; Mr. Truman Klein, 1927-1942; Mr. John Bond, 1942-1948; Mr. John M. Pryde, 1948-1967; Mr. Kalman J. Vozar, 1967-1970; Mr. Donald Buck, 1971-1977, Dr. Mildred Biedenkapp, 1977-1981; Mr. Eugene Colgan, 1981-1993, Mr. Robert Dredger, 1993-1995; Mrs. Francis Collins, 1995-1998; Mr. William Barnes, 1998-2005; Ms. Alice Swift-Howard, 2005-Present."




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