For generations of Ben Hill countians, Lynwood School, or the “County School”, was a second home where memories of childhood still play out in its oiled wooden floors and back lot concession stand. The history of the school is first well-documented in M. L Duggan’s 1918 Educational Survey of Ben Hill County. At that time, it was a two-story granitoid structure noted as a “consolidation of three small schools”. This leads me to believe it dates to the 1910s, contemporary with the documentation in Duggan’s work. My grandfather attended Lynwood around 1920-1923. I attended from first through seventh grade and remember the best school and the best teachers. I also remember Sno-Cones and Fruit Chews at the concession stand and doing jumping jacks at P. E. with Mr. Thomas. I remember recesses picking up pine cones on the hill. I think everyone remembers their first grade teacher and mine was Kay Batton who was a wonderful influence on a young mind. I remember the mock presidential election in Mrs. Bryant’s 4th grade class (1980) in which some of us got to be the candidates in a mock debate. It was a valuable lesson in democracy at work. And Pam Pusey’s sixth-grade English when a friend and I wrote a play and got to perform it on stage in the auditorium. I could list them all because I remember them. That’s just the kind of place Lynwood was.
The present structure was a public works project of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and I’ve heard that its demolition is imminent. That being said, I find it a sad commentary that communities can’t recognize the value of places like this. On one hand in the South we embrace the past in our politics but want it gone in other facets of our lives.
Tim Anderson wrote a great editorial on the subject of the school’s future a few years ago in the Herald-Leader. He said, in part: There are many in our community who were students at Lynnwood. We lost our beautiful old high school to fire. It would be a shame not to find a use for this old school building. It would make a fine central office for the school system — one more closely situated to most students. The 300-seat auditorium and spacious classrooms cry out for thoughtful solutions, like an adequate school board meeting room. We realize that solution may not be a priority for the school board at this time. But it’s a question waiting for an answer… This sums it up, and the school office idea has already been done in another South Georgia county. The old Black Creek Elementary School in Bryan County faced a similar fate and has been beautifully refurbished for service as the board office.