Looking Back: Dropping Out Became a Huge Problem During the 1963-1964 School Year
October 18, 2018
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article contains summaries of articles from past issues of The Central Digest. On occasion, the Digest will look back into our archives to see what was happening around Central High in the past
Student Body Enrollment Reaches Five Year High
Central had a great start to its fifty-seventh year, with an initial enrollment number of 1,739 students. This set a five year record since the school population had gained 125 students. The increase was the largest since the 1957-1958 school year, when 2,018 students attended.
Central Receives Bellamy Flag Award
The Bellamy Flag award was presented to Central on October 11, 1963. The flag had flown over Washington D.C. on May 18 of that year, in honor of Francis Bellamy’s birthday. The flag was displayed in a new trophy case that was purchased by the Parent-Teacher-Student-Association. The flag was flown for a couple for days and during special events, such as homecoming, until it was retired.
Senior Class Presents Play Tonight at 8
The senior drama students were set to present a program titled “Fresh Air” on the night of November 22. “Fresh Air” was set to take place on a corner of Los Angeles where the mayor was conducting a speech in a park. The production followed the mayor’s plight during his kidnapping. The cast performed a dress rehearsal the Wednesday before the show, and a skit for the entire school the day before the show.
Speaker Claims that Dropouts Make Decisions Too Fast
The President of Chattanooga Savings and Loans, Mr. W. Arnold Chambers, visited Central in December of 1963. Chambers strongly encouraged each student to finish high school and make their best effort to continue their studies in college. He also addressed the increase of juvenile delinquency at the time. Chambers denounced modern society, claiming that it insinuated that students grow up faster than they should.
School Drop-Outs Reach National and Local Highs
Students dropping out was not only a problem for Central, but a problem for the entire nation during that time period. Statistics showed that 30 percent of high school students in the United States did not make it to graduation. For Central, approximately 41 students had dropped out during the first semester of the 1963-1964 school year. This number was huge in comparison to the total of 50 students that had dropped out the year before. The main reasons for the spike in dropouts included teenage marriages, joining the armed forces, and leaving to focus on work for jobs.
For those interested, the archived Central Digest publications can be found on the Preservation of Chattanooga Central History website: https://chattanoogacentralhistory.com/digest/