Past Times

In Raleigh, WWII vets wanted to learn about the world

The first class for war veterans at Hugh Morson High School in 1946 allowed servicement to complete their interrupted high school education. It was noted that some pictured here were wearing parts of their service uniforms, “reflecting the acute clothing shortage.”
The first class for war veterans at Hugh Morson High School in 1946 allowed servicement to complete their interrupted high school education. It was noted that some pictured here were wearing parts of their service uniforms, “reflecting the acute clothing shortage.” N&O File Photo

While many returning World War II servicemen took advantage of the G.I. bill to attend college, there were also veterans who needed to finish high school. In Raleigh, a program was established at Hugh Morson High School where classes were held for veterans each day from 4:15 until 9:45 p.m. in “all high school subjects for which there is a sufficient demand.” Writer Elizabeth Blalock reported in 1946 on the success of the fledgling program.

Members of the veterans class at Hugh Morson High School seem to have acquired a new set of values while in service, according to their teacher, Mrs. Sophie Allen. They all have a definite purpose in mind – self-improvement – and they are very business-like and ambitious in the way in which they are working to attain that purpose.

They are particularly interested in the practical aspects of every course. In English, literature cedes first place to punctuation and grammar and improving oral English. Chemistry and physics are popular subjects, as is American history. Many of them expressed a desire to take history to find out “why.” They want to study the events which led up to the war and as they put it, “what we fought for.” The class in history has the largest enrollment.

The students are overly interested in maps, globes and geography, Mrs. Allen said, and if allowed the time would spend hours poring over strange, exotic names which mean more to many of them than just names.

Mrs. Allen said that she is “very much impressed by the industry of the group,” and the fact that they are taking maximum loads with a leaning toward the heavier subjects rather than searching for “crip” courses. Many of them are working six hours a day before coming to school.

They are a very punctual, cooperative group, which may be a hangover from military training. They exhibit great respect for their teacher, and cooperate with each other in getting over rough spots in assignments.

According to Mrs. Allen, the boys have shown no trouble whatsoever in getting back to their books. There have been no so-called “readjustment” difficulties. There is no talk of their experiences in the service.

Some of the men have seen as much as three years service in the armed forces.…

The group held its first session Monday, and Jesse O. Sanderson, city school superintendent, said that the classes will be kept small in order to make individualized instruction possible, and to offer opportunity for acceleration in the courses according to the student’s ability and desire to advance.

Expenses for most of the students are being paid by the Veterans Administration. The only married member of the class, George Coleman, is doing part-time work. Under the Veterans Administration program, the veteran is required to take a minimum of 25 hours per week in order to be eligible for the subsistence and tuition allowance granted by the administration.

Several new students will join the class tomorrow, and veterans will be accepted on any date they wish to enroll, but they will not be accepted for less than one quarter’s work.

The group plans to organize into a home room club, and the election of officers will take place some time this week. The N&O Feb. 24, 1946

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Leonard: 919-829-4866 or tleonard@newsobserver.com

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