Douglass School playground web.jpg

Children play at the Douglass Elementary School in Herculaneum, which enrolled black students during segregation. Students from the school went on to attend Douglass Cooperative High School in Festus until segregation ended in 1954.

A variety of events will be held Tuesday, Jan. 21, at Festus High School to recognize former students of the Douglass Cooperative High School, which enrolled black students during segregation.

Shropshire Park on Fourth Street in Festus is on the site where the old Douglass school once stood.

During the day Jan 21, students will be able to view special displays at the high school, 501 Westwind Drive, outlining the history of Douglass.

That night, the displays will be open to the public before and during the boys varsity basketball game against Crystal City. For the game, both teams will wear replica Douglass Trojans uniforms, and alumni in attendance will be recognized.

The Crystal City and Festus junior varsity squads are slated to tip off at 5:45 p.m., followed by a special presentation by Tiger Coach Jason Therrell at approximately 6:45 p.m. The varsity game will follow Therrell’s presentation.

Dewhitt Bingham, a 1980 Festus High graduate, has written a new book about the Douglass school, “The Douglass Connection,” and will attend the event and display various artifacts. His grandfather, Warren Bingham, was among the first five Douglass Cooperative High School graduates in 1940.

The book will be available for purchase during the event, with proceeds earmarked for a scholarship for a Festus High School minority student.

Admission for the evening is $2 for students, $3 for adults, with gate proceeds to be donated to that scholarship fund.

According to information supplied by the Festus R-6 School District, the Douglass school opened in 1900 as a grade school, educating black students from Festus.

Douglass Cooperative High School opened in 1939 for black students from Festus, Crystal City, Herculaneum, De Soto, Bonne Terre, Farmington and Potosi. The high school was integrated into Festus High School in 1955. Students in the seventh and eighth grades were integrated into Festus schools in 1956, and Douglass was closed in 1959.

Any Douglass alumni planning to attend the event are encouraged to contact Kevin Pope, the district’s communications coordinator, at 636-638-2004.

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