Friday, August 9, 2013 was a wonderful day in Savannah, Ga that won’t be soon forgotten. A ribbon cutting was held opening the doors of the new Alfred Ely Beach High School. The new 218,808 square foot state of the art school will house a multi-story academic wing, new media center, large student dining area and kitchen, large open air plaza, 2000 seat gymnasium with locker rooms and a new medical and allied health program.
Hundreds gathered to witness this grand occasion and to be among the first to tour the new facility. Among them were Brenda Steadman and other Beach High alumni who worked with the school board to insure the new structure would meet the needs of today’s students. The new school was another ESPLOST funded project that began several years ago under the leadership of Otis Brock, III (now deceased). Vanessa Miller-Kaigler, Interim Executive Director, Division of Facilities Management, saw the project through. Kaigler credited Brock for all he had done on the project before his untimely death and said in her remarks “you will feel his presence throughout the entire building”.
Also on hand to give remarks was Dr. Lester Johnson, Jr. who was one of the first teachers to teach at the original facility which opened in 1950. Dr. Johnson gave a bit of the history going back to the Beach Institute, then Cuyler-Beach. Remarks also came from Eric Johnson, President, HGBD Engineers & Architects; Virginia Edwards Maynor, Retired Superintendent of Schools; School Board member Irene Hines, Dr. Joe Buck, School Board President and Dr. Thomas Lockamy, Jr. Superintendent of Schools.
Alfred Ely Beach High School is one of the oldest public high schools located in Savannah, Georgia, USA.
In 1867, the Beach Institute was established by the Freedmen’s Bureau with funds donated by Alfred Ely Beach, editor of Scientific American. The school was privately funded as a manual training school to provide a means for newly freed African Americans to assimilate into white society. By 1874, the institute was appropriated by the Savannah-Chatham Board of Education for the purpose of providing free education to Savannah’s African American citizenry. Although the Beach Institute closed its doors in 1915, it was reopened as an African American cultural center and is currently operated by the King-Tisdell Cottage Foundation. The Beach name survives in the name of Alfred E. Beach High School.