Mild problems at West Charlotte
Here, Culp describes some of West Charlotte's challenges. Its racial profile, while a source of pride, complicates its operations because the sense of racial unity that exists within West Charlotte is not mirrored in the outside community. West Charlotte also suffers from a kind of brain drain to other, newer schools. The biggest problem in Culp's eyes, however, is the school's struggle to win a state championship in football.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with William Culp, February 19, 1999. Interview K-0277. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Full Text of the Excerpt
PG: In the time when your children were there and when you were on the school committees, and working with the school, what were the big challenges you think the school faced, along with making all the students feel comfortable. What other kinds of challenges?
WC: Well, over crowding has always been a condition that I think West Charlotte has had to deal with, and it became even more of a condition after integration. The challenge of getting new buildings and renovated buildings was always something that was on the minds of folks at West Charlotte, and I think probably will always be there. That’s certainly something that never goes away, is that challenge of over crowding and the challenge of providing adequate space for instruction. Getting involvement from parents is difficult at any school. It’s a particular challenge at a school like West Charlotte because most of the white parents who are involved there and whose students go there live really on the other side of town, so to speak. So getting them involved in and coming to meetings and feeling a part of the school is difficult. Many black families have the same difficulty in terms of either being single parent families or having situations where both parents work. This constant struggle to keep parents involved in the school and keep parents active in the school family was certainly something that we continued to struggle with there. The other problem that I remember in particular during my time was Charlotte is such a growing community, and Charlotte is always opening new high schools with new facilities, with new campuses, with new resources, and the best and brightest teachers tend to be drawn away from aging schools like a West Charlotte to go to the new school at Providence or the new school at Vance where they have the latest equipment and more space and new facilities. A constant struggle is to keep bright teachers and the best teachers in a school like West Charlotte as opposed to losing them to the new fancy schools that are always being built in a community that’s growing like Charlotte is. That was a constant struggle and continues to be a struggle because there’s something about the new school that attracts teachers and particularly teachers who have developed a reputation for being excellent. That was one of the problems when I was at West Charlotte and my children were there was watching some of your best faculty members slip away to other schools and be drawn away. So I’d say those were some of the major problems. Probably the biggest problem at West Charlotte is trying to win a state championship in football. West Charlotte has a great tradition in football and is the scourge of the Charlotte community in terms of football. I mean, they beat everybody, and they beat them good on the local level, but they’ve had a great deal of problems winning state championships. They’ve gone to state championship games many years running. In fact, when I was on the school committee we went to the state championship football game, and we decided that we would print up some bumper stickers that said, “West Charlotte state champs,” and we would sell the immediately after the state championship football game in Chapel Hill and raise money for the school committee. So I printed up the bumper stickers at my own expense, and I recruited a bunch of people so we could cover all the exits at Chapel Hill on the West Charlotte side of the field, and went to the state championship football game and Northern Durham blew our doors off. So we ended up with a bunch of bumper stickers we couldn’t sell. Winning that state championship in football continues to be—they have won it one year—but they’ve been more times to the state championship football game than any school in the state, including schools that have won the state championship, but they haven’t come away with the gold medal very often. I’d say that’s probably the biggest problem. Winning that state championship in football.