W.B. Wicker School began as the Lee County Training School, built in 1927 on South Vance Street, to serve Sanford’s African American high school children. The one-story brick building, characterized by large windows alternating with pilasters, was renamed in 1954 after its first principal, William Bartelle Wicker, and it was built by contactor A.L. “Link” Boykin, a leading member of Sanford’s black community. Additions were made to the building in 1934 and 1949, and the campus was enlarged by the construction of other buildings from the 1930s through the 1960s.
Construction funds were provided in part by the Rosenwald Fund, conceived in the 1910s by Southern black leader and educator Booker T. Washington. The Rosenwald schools were built across the south for black Americans in the early 20th century.
The school served as one of Lee County’s middle and elementary schools after desegregation was implemented in 1969, before closing in 1990. Central Carolina College renovated the school in 2006 to use as an auxiliary campus.
In November of 2015, the Lee County Board of Education and Lee County Board of Commissioners selected W.B. Wicker School as the location for the county’s newest elementary school, to open in the fall of 2019. The school, now W.B. Wicker Elementary School, is Lee County Schools first STEAM curriculum school — STEAM being Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. The STEAM curriculum, along with support services and strong community involvement, will give students who attend Wicker a solid foundation for their education and their future.
W.B. Wicker is an A+ school, and an active member of the A+ Schools of North Carolina. As an A+ School, we provide students with an engaging, creative learning environment in which the arts provide a catalyst for learning across disciplines. A+ Schools of North Carolina is a whole-school transformation initiative that views the arts as fundamental to teaching and learning in all subjects. A+ Schools combine arts integration, arts education and arts exposure, offering children opportunities to develop creative, innovative ways of thinking, learning and showing what they know about the state’s mandated curriculum which involves a collaborative, many-disciplined approach. For more information, visit: http://aplus-schools.ncdcr.gov.
Photo compliments of Jimmy Haire.