In 1906 Secondary Industrial School was founded as an experiment becoming the first school in the nation to combine vocational and academic courses in a public school system. Mr. G. Gunby Jordan, president of the board of trustees of the Columbus public schools, donated the original tract of land and 10 thousand dollars. This was followed by donations from every board member as well as from many local citizens. Shortly after its opening the school became known as Columbus Industrial High School. Columbus Industrial High School it remained until March 12, 1937. On March 12, 1937, the student body which exceeded 1,000 marched from the school on 29th Street to the present location at 3200 Howard Avenue. T. Hicks Fort, president of the board of trustees, announced that the school would be named in honor of the late G. Gunby Jordan saying: "so I today, as spokesman for the board of education of Columbus, and in humble but proud imitation of the words of the prophet of old, say to the Columbus Industrial High School, "thou shalt be called by a new name, and that name is and shall ever be Jordan Vocational High School."
Frank P. Bradford, principal of Columbus Industrial High School, became the first principal of Jordan Vocational High School. Like our nation's President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was beginning his second term in office, Principal Bradford knew he would face great challenges, but neither one realized how great the challenges would be.
Even though the nation was recovering from the Great Depression, the New Deal continued with more than 3 1/2 million people still working on relief projects. The world was becoming increasingly concerned with Hitler's aggression in Europe and with the Japanese expansion. Despite America's declaration of neutrality, these concerns were among many facing those who attended the new Jordan Vocational High School.
The first years were years of organization. The first issue of the Carmine and Grey was published; and the Diversified Cooperative Training program, known as DCT, was begun. Grading was no longer on a monthly basis but on a six weeks basis. In the fall of 1938 the auditorium and the gymnasium were completed. The football team, often called the "Buzzing Bees," received new uniforms - the pants were maroon in the front and white in the back with a maroon stripe down the side; the jerseys were white with 3 red stripes on the arms and red numbers on the back; the helmets were maroon on the top and red on the sides. These new uniforms must have brought the team luck because for the first time in 13 years the red jackets defeated their arch rival Columbus High School to become the bi-city football champs.
While Jordan students enjoyed programs which were broadcast into the cafeteria by clubs and classes on the service club's amateur radio station, German troops invaded Poland. Two days later, England and France declared war on Germany. In 1940 with the war in Europe very much on their minds, a group of 40 seniors traveled to Atlanta to view the story of a different war, the Civil War, in the movie "Gone With The Wind" at Lowe's Grand Theater. Some of these same students responded to their country's call, when on December 7, 1941, "a day that will live in infamy," the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.
The students who remained in school also responded to their country's call. Jordan was the first school in the nation whose students were 100% in the purchase of defense stamps. Jordan students also held 100% membership in the Red Cross. Activities to support the war effort were numerous: collection of old rubber, discarded paper, and scrap metal, boat building, an obstacle course for the ROTC, regular drills for the victory corps girls, an organization to help high school students do their part in the war effort, daily sale of war stamps and government bonds, victory gardening, rationing, and first aid classes. The woodshop constructed 50 scale model enemy planes to help aviators identify the enemy, and a 25-minute movie entitled "What Jordan Is Doing For Defense" was produced at Jordan and shown at the graduation ceremony in 1942. In 1943 during World War II, Jordan received two civil war cannons from the city of Columbus. These cannons remained in front of the building until the late 1960's when they were moved.
Two things unique to Columbus made the war unusually close to people in this area: the proximity of Ft. Benning, a major training center, and the fact that president Franklin Delano Roosevelt spent time close by at the Little White House in Warm Springs, Georgia, where he died April 12, 1945. Finally, on May 7, 1945, Germany surrendered. After atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan surrendered on August 15, 1945. The world, including Jordan Vocational High School, would never be the same. The end of the war coincided with the end of Mr. Bradford's career as principal for he was promoted to assistant superintendent, and Mr. Frank David became principal.
Mr. David remained principal for 3 years during which the Future Homemakers of America organized a club, and physical education classes began. In 1948 Mr. R. H. Taliferro became principal. On January 28, 1949, the last midyear graduation was held, and semester promotions were eliminated.
Communism, Russia, and Korea were on everyone's mind, and our way of life might never have seemed so important. At Jordan Mrs. Aggie Dean Scott, chairman, and the rest of the teachers in the social studies department devoted themselves to the teaching of the American way of life. Mrs. Scott, because of her efforts in this endeavor, was chosen one of the 10 top-ranking teachers in the American Way Of Life By The Freedom Foundation Of Valley Forge, and the school received the Freedom Foundation Award for three consecutive years. In 1954 hoping to promote friendship between Japan and the United States, Jordan students began corresponding with Japanese boys and girls.
In 1954 there was a celebration of Jordan's 50th birthday since its beginnings as Secondary Industrial High School. That same year the Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional, a ruling that had little immediate effect, but which later would affect not only Jordan but all of the schools in the Muscogee County School District.
In 1955 Jordan was the largest school in the state, and to accommodate the growing enrollment, a new cafeteria and 6 classrooms were added along with a band room. Jordan's marching Red Jacket Band had already received international recognition. Second place in the competition at the Lions International Convention in Chicago in 1950 was only the beginning. Our band was judged National Junior Marching Band Champions at the American Legion Convention in New York in 1952; in 1956 the band, one of only four chosen to play, was acclaimed the nation's best at the Midwest National Clinic in Chicago and was described as "the best ever to perform in the clinic."
Although the band is probably the best remembered Jordan group of the years 1947 to 1956, others were active in their areas. The service club changed its name to the student council. The Gamma Tri-Hi-Y received the certificate of distinction from Parents' Magazine for outstanding community service, an honor which it won for 10 straight years. The Future Homemakers of America had 14 groups with a membership of 586. Jordan students received recognition as Georgia's Daughters Of The American Revolution good citizen, state distributive education president, state diversified cooperative training president, first place winner in the state speaking contest.
Jordan's student body continued to grow, and in 1957 several classes were meeting in the old building of Lafkowitz Brothers' cleaners on the Corner of 33rd Street and Howard avenue. The school was on an expanded schedule; juniors and seniors attended school from 8:30 to 2:56, freshmen and sophomores attended from 9:10 to 3:52. The freshmen, the Class of '61, were required to have 18 credits to graduate instead of the previous 16 credits. Jordan's' peak enrollment of 2,300 came in 1964. To help relieve overcrowding, a team teaching experiment was begun, and construction of an additional classroom building, now known as the "new building," was started and was completed in 1965. The class of 1965 had the distinction of being the largest graduating class in the city with 656 graduates - a distinction which it still holds.
The Soviet Union launched sputnik in 1957, and all of America cried for a Greater emphasis in science and mathematics. JVHS met the challenge And produced science students who consistently won the third district West science fair, an honor which allowed them to participate in a five-day science naval cruise. One year alone Jordan had 22 county science fair winners enter state competition. The Bi-Phy-Chem Science Team received a trophy as one of the top clubs in the state.
Technological advances in television brought the Presidential Campaign of Democrat John F. Kennedy into the homes of most Americans. Whether one agreed with his policies or not, his oratorical style had to be admired. A Jordan student, Jimmy Rachels, developed his own oratorical style, and in 1959, he became the National Voice Of Democracy winner, the first national winner from the State of Georgia.
The band continued to bring recognition to Jordan. In 1958, the Red Jacket band, the only high school band on the program, played in Los Angeles for the National Convention of Music Educators. While in California, they also played in Disneyland. Spirit of Jordan, a record by the band, was released in 1959 by RCA victor records. In 1963 they performed in the Governor's Inaugural parade and later that year Helped to celebrate Jordan's first homecoming. A band member received the largest scholarship to an individual by the Cincinnati Conservatory of music; band director Robert Barr received a plaque of honor from the first chair of America for outstanding leadership to the band.
Honors of individual students during these years included the winner of the national scholastic writing contest sponsored by scholastic Magazine and Shaeffer Pen Company, state winner in the Voice Of Democracy contest who also place fifth in the nation, State winner in The Sons of the American Revolution speech contest, Columbus girl of the year, State winner for an essay on the handicapped, regional vice President of Vocational Industrial Clubs of America, appointee to West Point, and a district teacher of the year. Jordan student Alexander Hunter at age 15 recorded the top score in the state on the National Merit qualifying exam and in 1965 was not only Jordan's star student, But also the state star student. He named Miss Helen Shepard of the Social Studies Department as his star teacher.
To recognize Principal R. H. Taliferro's outstanding leadership, a scholarship for Jordan students pursuing an undergraduate degree was established in his name in 1960. In that same year, the Quill , a Jordan Literary magazine was first published.
The undeclared war in Vietnam continued to escalate bringing turmoil to many campuses, but students at Jordan preferred community activities such as the walkathon sponsored by the march of dimes Which in 1965 organized teenagers against polio (TAP), and a Jordan graduate was elected to the state TAP board. The DCT club was judged best in the state for the 7th consecutive year, and a new work program, Vocational Office Training (VOT) was added to the curriculum.
In 1966 the price of the a Jordan Red Jacket annual was raised from $4.50 To $5.00 after the Christmas holidays. Prior to the holidays, over 500 annuals were sold.
Nationally, the years from 1967 to 1976 were turbulent with continuing warfare in Vietnam and Nixon's Watergate scandal. Fortunately, turbulence at Jordan was minor, and by our country's bicentennial year, integration had been accomplished with remarkable smoothness.
Long-time principal R.H.. Taliferro retired in 1967, and Arnold Junior High Principal Carl Sasser was named to the post. The fountain in front of The New building was built in Mr. Taliferro's honor.
In 1968 Mrs. Elizabeth Gibson, English teacher, and Mrs. Viola Hymes, math Teacher, became the first black teachers on the Jordan faculty when they were transferred from Spencer. Jordan students were still celebrating a state championship in baseball when, in the fall of 1971 under court order, all Muscogee County Schools were fully integrated on a ratio basis. The majority of the black teachers and students who came to Jordan were from Spencer, and students and teachers of both races worked hard together to see that the transition was completed with as little commotion as possible.
The Red Jacket band continued to make its own commotion at Jordan. The band was selected to perform at the Presidential Inaugural Parade. One of its members was selected to the first McDonald's All-American Band and marched in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade as well as the Rose Bowl Parade the following year.
Jordan student Lynn Register in 1967 was elected national VICA President. Among other honors achieved by Jordan students were state winner of the National Machine Trades contest; recipients of the National Merit Scholarship; outstanding high school students chosen by the National Council of Teachers of English; Georgia's outstanding Teenager; state VICA historian; and state winner in radio-television troubleshooting.
In 1973 Dr. William Henry Shaw, superintendent of school, retired, and Dr.. Braxton A. Nail was named to replace him. Mr. Sasser retired in the same year, and Mr. William A. Screws (class of 1942) was promoted from his job as assistant principal. In 1974 Mr. Mark McElreath from Jordan's Vocational department was selected outstanding trade and Industrial Educator in the State of Georgia. The Margaret Cox scholarship for Jordan graduates pursuing a graduate degree was begun in 1975 to recognize Miss Cox's years of dedication to Jordan and its students.
During the bicentennial year of 1976 Jordan students continued their support of the March of Dimes Walkathon. The Art Department designed and constructed a banner with a bicentennial theme for our 428 participants in the walkathon who raised $10,574.
In 1977 former Georgia Governor James Earl Carter was inaugurated as President of the United States. In the same year at Jordan we had students distinguishing themselves by being appointed to the Air Force Academy and to West Point. Also, in 1977 DCT presented a replica of the Liberty bell to the school in recognition of the bicentennial year. The freshmen of '77 learned that the graduation requirements had been raised from 18 to 21 credits.
Physical changes occurred at Jordan High 1978 when a locker room was eliminated and the choral complex added. At the same time the cafeteria and library were enlarged, and the art room was moved to a new location.
The revolution in Iran and the seizing of American citizens by the new Iranian government were the big news of 1979. Jordan students along with the rest of the world waited over a year for the release of the hostages which finally occurred on January 20, 1981.
Another big news story in 1981 was the naming of Sandra Day O'Connor As the first woman supreme court justice. A year later, Janie Cartwright, made her own first as the first female elected to the international office in the Junior Civitan Club.
The portion above was selections made from a speech given at the opening of the Time Capsule in 1987 at the 50th anniversary of Jordan Vocational High School.
Air Conditioning was added throughout the school thanks to the "Cool Our Kids" referendum in 1988. Other minor improvements were made over the years with an addition to the automotive shop being the latest.
In 1996, Assistant Principal Dr. Charles Kelley was chosen to become the next principal of Jordan Vocational High School. Mr. William A. Screws retired after 50 years in education, the last 30 at Jordan.
With the passage of the 1% special purpose local option sales tax in 1997, Jordan Vocational High School received more additions and improvements. A new gymnasium with a much larger seating capacity, updated wiring for technology, renovation of the present facility, and the conversion of the old gymnasium into science labs, a state-of-the art Health Occupations lab, mathematics classrooms, and a new choral facility. During the summer of 2006 the Old building underwent a major renovation.
In 2004, Mr. Dwain Tovey--a Jordan graduate--was chosen to become the next principal of Jordan Vocational High School upon Dr. Kelley's retirement. He served as principal for three years. Mr. Richard Stone was appointed principal of Jordan in July 2007.