Thanks to our new partner, Union County Public Library, DigitalNC now features 3 yearbooks [1956, 1958, and 1962] from Winchester Avenue High School, which was the black high school in Monroe, North Carolina. Winchester first opened as a K-12 school serving the black community in the 1920s. It was an important institution in Monroe’s black community, serving as a community center and point of pride for the many students who graduated from the school. That all changed in March 1966 when a fire heavily damaged the school. The high school students finished the year in the undamaged parts, but it was the end of Winchester as a high school. As a result, with no other options, the black students and faculty from Winchester all went to the all white Monroe High School for the 1966-1967 school year, making Monroe High the first fully integrated high school in the state.
One of Winchester’s graduates is a trailblazer whose story has been highlighted very recently, Christine Darden. Darden is a retired engineer and executive from NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA, and her story is one of the one’s highlighted in the book “Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race.” Darden [Christine Mann is her maiden name] attended Winchester School through sophomore year before transferring to the Allen School, a boarding school in Asheville in 1956. She served as a sophomore class officer while at Winchester.