Monday, September 26, 2016

The History of Brock Elementary School

         The following information came from a presentation at Brock Elementary about the school's history, as well as a newspaper article describing how the school began. 

        The first schools in Slidell were private schools taught by ladies who taught the basic curriculum: reading, writing, and arithmetic. The early settlers in the area sent their children to them for their education.
        Many of the early settlers of Slidell were the surveyors who mapped the railroad to New Orleans. 
       The first high school was a wooden structure that stood at the present site of Brock Elementary, graduating its first class in 1909. The lower grades were housed in buildings such as the old R of P hall and several buildings on College Street. The first graduating class of Slidell consisted of four ladies: Miss Ella Scogin, Miss Lena George, Molly Guzman, and Violet Holdsword. Their principal was a Mr. Messick.
         In 1911, the Building Committee for Slidell High School reported to the School Board that on May 17, 1911, the firm of Stevens & Nelson was employed as architects for the new high school building made of brick.  
        On July 20 the contract for construction of the three story building was let to I. C. Garber of Jackson, MS, for the sum of $18,469. The contract for heating and plumbing on the new building was given to the firm of C.C. Hartwell Company for the sum of $2,898.

A 556 foot water well was drilled at a cost of $417, and a storage tank for the water was purchased for $200. The building had four toilets, one each for boys and girls and two for the teachers. The school was completed in early 1912. In 1912, Professor C. E Hooper served as principal for the school, and he directed the first band, with many members of this band going on to play with the LSU band.
        It housed first through eleventh grades until 1925.  It was during this time that Mrs. Craddock, a teacher and librarian at the grammar school, began the first elementary school library in  the State of Louisiana. A great effort among everyone was made to sell magazines in order to raise the money to buy books for the library. It was so successful that the State Librarian visited the school one day and asked Mrs. Craddock to speak at the Librarian Convention in Baton Rouge.

      The next principals were Mr. Baker, Mr. MacAffee and Mr. Ratcliff. The one school with grades first through eleven continued until 1925, when a third high school building was built on Third St. The elementary grades stayed where they were and became known as the Grammar School.
      The first principal was Henry Mayfield, and in 1935 came Mr. Glynn H. Brock.

Playground Enlarged
In 1930, a resolution was adopted by the School Board approving the acquisition of additional land next to Slidell Grammar School for use as a playground. The land was purchased from Olga M. Nolan for $450. 
In a 1936 report to the School Board, it was commented that The Slidell Elementary School (today’s Brock Elementary) had a well-organized program for each child. “Children can get a warm lunch with milk for a very reasonable charge. I did not have time to observe the school’s physical education work, but Mr. Brock, the principal, stated that it was much better organized than last year, and he was anxious for me to see it in operation.”

Glynn H. Brock

      By 1939 the building required extensive repairs.  Classes were held in neighboring buildings such as the Masonic Temple , the Community House and the old Redman Hall while the new school was being constructed.  

Brock Elementary in 1939

       By 1942, construction was complete and the Slidell Grammar School once again housed  first through seventh grades.  This structure also included a  library, a lunchroom, and a gymnasium.  Part of the school facing Brakefield Street was destroyed by fire in 1951 and was rebuilt in its original  form in the same year. 

Brock Dies
In the School Board minutes of May 15, 1968, a resolution was passed recognizing the contributions of Glynn H. Brock Sr., who had died recently. The resolution stated that Brock was a dedicated educator, “serving as a teacher and coach for Slidell High School from 1924 to 1935, Principal of Slidell Elementary School from 1935 to 1951, and Supervisor of the St. Tammany Parish Public Schools from 1951 to 1963, at which time he retired.”
“In the above mentioned capacities, he exemplified maximum knowledge of his profession and an everlasting sincere consideration for the students,” the resolution stated.        “For many years, the names of Glynn H. Brock and the Slidell School System were considered synonymous terms.”
As a citizen of Slidell, he was active in many fraternal and civic organizations, always doing “more than his share,” and because of his activities, often being honored for his meritorious work. He was described as a true Christian, an active working and devoted member of his church. 
It was decided to name a school in the Slidell area in his memory. 
In November of 1970, The School Board recalled that Brock had died 18 months previous, and at that time, it was decided that a school would be named after him. So it was moved and seconded that the name of Slidell Elementary School be changed to Glynn H. Brock Elementary School. The motion unanimously passed. A plaque was to be placed on the school.
      Brock had also served as President of the St. Tammany Parish Library System's Board of Control in 1956.

    After being extensively damaged in Hurricane Katrina, Brock Elementary reopened to students on Tuesday, December 9, 2008, three years after the hurricane. For several days, maintenance department workers and teachers prepared the school for the influx of its 278 students who have been temporarily housed at St. Tammany Junior High School during reconstruction of the historic Brock Elementary building.

     A faithful restoration of the educational institution was a top priority for the School System. As one of Slidell’s original landmark schools, it graduated its first class in 1909 and has served the central Slidell area for generations.

Brock Elementary School student body 2007
(For information on how this photo was taken, CLICK HERE.)

     U. S. Senator David Vitter and U. S. Representative Steve Scalise visited the newly re-opened Brock Elementary School in Slidell in December of 2008, taking a tour of the facility that has been completely restored.
     The Congressmen visited several classrooms, spoke with teachers and students, and attended a special program in the gymnasium.
     Students from various grade levels danced, sang holiday songs, and presented the Congressmen with artwork in appreciation for their help in bringing back Brock. 

     First Lady Michelle Obama visited Brock Elementary School in Slidell on Wednesday, September 8, 2010, to kick off the next phase of her “Let’s Move!” Campaign to combat childhood obesity. She was greeted by hundreds of students at the school with cheers, songs, smiles, hugs, and handshakes.
     During her visit, she spoke to school food service personnel, School administrators, and community leaders. Mrs. Obama said that Brock Elementary was not just a school that was dedicated to academic success, not just a school that is a model of determination to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina, but it was also a school that is a model of excellence in teaching children good nutritional habits right from the beginning.
     “Brock Elementary is among the very best of the best,” Mrs. Obama stated.