A rapid growth of what was then called Horse Creek followed the opening of numerous mines in the area, and in the early 1900s citizens of the prospering town saw the need for a new school. In 1903 a two-story frame building (with another structure consisting of two rooms and an auditorium built nearby) was ready for occupancy. B.C. Palmer was principal, and Kenner Ferman and Lillian Slater were assistants. Samuel T. Sellers, R.H. Palmer, and Dr. C.B. Jackson helped initiate the building of the school and also served as trustees. Principals that followed Palmer were Professors Hayes and Williams.
The 1921 School
By 1921, a red brick schoolhouse had been built to replace the original 1903 main wooden structure. This building served as both the elementary school (six grades) and high school (five grades). The twelfth grade had been added by 1925, and the school was accredited by the State in the school year 1926-27. Although modern times and advances in technology and equipment were still many decades away, the school had a brilliant vision and daring that they instilled in their students. Using the building, materials, and staff available, Dora High School made great leaps in education and strides towards the future. It was only early days in its illustrious history. The Building Committee consisted of Chairman Frank, C. Marquis, C.I. Jones, Linn Palmer, R. Foster, and L. Clark. The contractor was W.E. Venice. Principals at this school were Professors Williams, Ben Kirk, T.N. Driskill, and George Kilgore. The Building Committee consisted of Chairman Frank C. Marquis, C.I. Jones, Linn Palmer, R. Foster, and L. Clark. The contractor was W.E. Venice. Principals at this school were Professors Williams, Ben Kirk, T.N. Driskill, and George Kilgore.
The following students were the first to be graduated from this school in 1921:
Willie Gay Morgan
These names were found in the cornerstone that was opened after the school burned in 1969.
The 1935 School
Another school was built in 1935 for junior and senior high school students. The first principal of the Dora High School was George Kilgore followed by Amos I. Waldrop, Paul Hudson, and Glenn C. Gant. The old building on School Street that had previously accommodated grades 1-12 then became Dora Elementary School. Principals at the elementary school were Professors Sanford, Mitchell, Brack Putman, Dora Boyd, Ezra Evans, and Leonard Sartain. This school stayed in service until the new school was built. The last graduating class from this school was the Class of 1969.
Early Schools for the Black Community
The first schools to service the black community went as far as Junior High School. All students wishing to pursue higher learning had to relocate or travel to other areas in Walker County that offered high school courses. The building where classes were held was an old wooden structure with very limited facilities for teachers and students. Very small salaries were given to teachers. Dedicated principals and teachers with positive attitudes and optimistic views toward the future endured many hardships. They worked hard to train the minds of many black boys and girls in order for them to find their places in society.
The student body was made up of students from Blackwater, Argo, Sumiton, Empire, Hull, Sipsey, Burnwell, Yerkwood, Flat Creek, and Dora.
Terrell S. Boyd, a white citizen of Dora, often visited the black schools. Seeing the need for black children to have a better place to learn, he started working toward getting a new school built for the black children.
In 1963, an all-black T.S. Boyd School was built honoring Terrell S. Boyd, former Walker County Board of Education member. Before this time the schoolhouse for black children was an a-frame building located in Union Camp, just below the high school stadium. C.F. Prewitt, principal at the old building, was principal at Boyd until 1975. The Dora schools were integrated in 1969. Grades 1-4 were housed at T.S. Boyd, 5-9 at the old high school building (with Leonard Sartain as principal), and grades 10-12 at the new Dora High School. T. S. Boyd School was closed by the Walker County Board of Education in 2014.
Old High School Condemned
The old Dora High School building, which was being used as a junior high school building, was condemned in the spring of 1981. The students were transferred to T.S. Boyd. Fire destroyed the vacant building in 1982. Under the leadership of principal James T. Gann, T. S. Boyd received Accreditation in 1977. Classes were meeting in trailers until 1985 when thirteen new rooms were added to the existing building. The facility housed grades K-8 until its closure in 2014.
The Current High School
In the late 1960s, the citizens of Dora saw the need to generate interest in buying property for a school site. A new high school was to be built, but consideration had been given to two sites on the north side of Highway 78. However, if local residents could provide a new location, Dora High School would remain within the town.
A drive for property funds was spearheaded by graduates of the school who feared that their alma mater would be lost if it were constructed outside Dora. A door-to-door campaign was successful. Within five days more than $7500 was raised to buy the 35-acre campus (on Glenn C. Gant Drive)—and thus deed it to the Walker County Board of Education. Sparks Construction Company of Jasper was the contractor, and the new school was built and dedicated in 1969.
The two-story split-level modern brick structure included modern teaching aids and an auditorium-gymnasium combination.
Approximately 550 students had enrolled in grades 10-12 when the school opened its doors for the first time. Glenn C. Gant was principal, and Asa Bobo, Clell York, and J.B. McCrary were trustees.
The new football stadium was named Roberts Field—honoring the memory of Horace Roberts. Horace was an outstanding Dora area citizen and a member of the Walker County Board of Education.
Glenn C. Gant was followed by Bill Moore in 1973, who was followed by Jim Crump in 1975. In 1979, under Jim Crump’s leadership, Dora High School received Accreditation. Trustees were Ralph Parker, Jerry Tuggle, and Rabon Watson.
The History of Dora High School
by Josephine Andrews
The first school was a “dog house” school near old Red Star Hill in the older section of Dora, Alabama. It was known as “Hard Bargain School” and D.M. Davis was the first teacher. There were no active organized trustees. Sam Sellers, who had homesteaded in the area, served as trustee.
In 1870 a school was built on the hill now known as Number 10 Hill, which is a community on the Dora-Cordova Road just past the Second Baptist Church. In 1888, a log house at the top of Davis Cemetery hill was used for a school. Later, a larger school was build at the foot of the hill near the cemetery.
In the year 1901, a school district was created and numbered 45. Three schools were supported at this time: Sloss, Davis, and Morgan. The three were consolidated and for a time the school was taught in the Methodist church and the Masonic Hall in Old Dora. The first principal was Thomas Harrison Sherer, a Peabody graduate and Sarah Kerr of Columbia, Tennessee.
In the summer of 1904, a new building was erected, two rooms and an auditorium. Several months later, eight new rooms were built. This as a two-story frame building. E.C. Palmer, a graduate of Midland City was principal for two years.
J.W. Letson was principal for the years 1906 – 07, and 1907 -08 when the school was graded. On May 22nd, diplomas were given to the following as the first Dora High School graduates: Austelle Harwell, Ray Andrews, Siddie Sellers, Maude Smithrow, Alma Grimes and Dora Gresham. S.T. Sellers, R.H. Palmer and Dr. C. B. Jackson were the first trustees of the school.
As the enrollment grew, a new building of brick was erected in 1921. Grades eleven and twelve were added alternately. As buses brought in students from surrounding communities, the enrollment continued to grow.
With the cooperation of public-spirited citizens, land was made available for a new school to house the Junior and Senior High School grades. Ground was broken for the building in1934 and in 1938 the first class graduated from the new buildings. Watkins Field, the football field, was built and named for the town’s mayor, Sam J. Watkins. Later a gymnasium was erected directly across from the rear of the school. The rock gymnasium is currently the home of the Alabama Mining Museum.
The class of 1969 was the last class to graduate from the Old school on the hill. The new Dora High School built nearer to the 78 Highway was put into service and the class of 1970 was the first class to graduate from the New Dora High School.
PRINCIPALS OF DORA HIGH SCHOOL from 1901 – present
Start Principal End
1901 T. H. Sherer
1904 E.C. Palmer 1
1906 J.W. Setson
1908 T.J. York
1911 H. Sizenley
1912 D.J. Moore
1914 W. K. Norton
1917 Mrs. Kitchen
1918 B.P. Hodges
1126 George Kilgore
1943 Amos I. Waldrop
1947 Paul Hudson
1951 Glenn C. Gant
1973 Billy J. Moore
Assistant **Percy Goode
1975 Jim Crump 1993
Assistants Charles Tatum
Mrs. Lucille Harris
1993 Bobby L. Erwin
Assistant Joe Potts
1995 Percy Goode
1999 Joe Potts Present
2005 Ricky Pate
2011 Cathy James
2019-Present Paige Abner