In the early years of the 1900s, a local doctor found himself tired of taking his only child to the one-room Banks School. Recognizing the impact that education can have on a community, he donated some land in Summerville, SC. That site was located on Cedar and 1st N. Street and it opened its doors in 1910. Named for the man who gave the land for its construction, the Alston Graded School was one of the first African-American schools in Dorchester County and it housed grades 1-11 for nearly three decades. Dr. JH Alston knew that all children deserve a high-quality education in a safe, supportive, and nurturing environment.
Years later, Mrs. Clemmie Strother Bailey found herself a teacher at what would become Alston High School in 1949 once the school added the 12th grade. As a side note, Alston High School was later moved to Bryan St. and it stood there until 1970 when local schools were finally desegregated. Mrs. Bailey went on to become the principal of the Alston Elementary School portion of the present-day Alston Middle School. Her students knew that she cared deeply about them and their future, doing whatever it took to help them succeed. It was evident that she believed in a rigorous curriculum that would be relevant to students’ lives.
In 2017, Alston-Bailey Elementary School opened its doors under the principalship of Vernisa Y. Bodison. At our dedication ceremony, we were blessed to hear from Mrs. Carolyn Alston Howard, great-niece of Dr. Alston and goddaughter to Mrs. Bailey. She was able to share some information about our school’s namesakes and how both of their families stressed the importance of education. Our goal has always been to carry on the mission of these two integral figures of Lowcountry schools. Our students learn with PRIDE as they work to become world-class citizens. We can only hope that the lessons learned within our halls help produce the next generation of leaders who can continue to carry the torch passed on to us by those that came before.