Consolidated High historical marker unveiled

Preparing the unveil the Consolidated High School historical marker are (l-r) Gertie Weeks Walker (Class of 1960), Rudy Shrivers (Class of 1959), Betty Thomas Jones (Class of 1959), Elorene Manker-(Class of 1960), Mary Bryant (Class of 1960), Marcella Lett (Class of 1960) and Eddie Jackson (Class of 1960). Photos provided courtesy of Lola Lacy.

Graduates of the former Consolidated High School in Lake Butler helped to unveil a historical marker commemorating the school for Black students for approximately a decade before schools were desegregated.

The ceremony was held April 6 at Lake Butler Elementary School, which used to be Consolidated High School.

Black students in Union County used to attend various one- and two-room schools throughout the county and then be bussed to schools in other cities for their high-school years.

In 1957, Consolidated High School was built for $219,000. As its name suggests, it was a consolidated school for the county’s Black students.

Ruth Mildred Jenkins, who was already teaching in Union, was the school’s principal.

When the school it opened, it was grades 1-10, though 11th and 12th grades were eventually added.

The school was known for having strong math and science departments and earned state and national awards.

Consolidated also had a 41-member choir that was featured on Jacksonville’s “The Ken Knight Show.”

In the spring of 1968, Union’s schools were integrated, with Consolidated High School becoming Lake Butler Elementary.

The unveiled historical marker, which gives a brief history of Consolidated High School, which was built in 1957. It became Lake Butler Elementary School as Union County schools were desegregated in 1968.