Wheeless Road School History
Wheeless Road School opened in September, 1953. The school was designed to be a modern school for grades 1 through 7. At that time, it was the largest school in Richmond County with 900 students in 24 classrooms, and it boasted a 7th grade chorus and a football team that lost only one game in its first season. Of special note, two Wheeless Road School classes received permission to greet and visit with then-President Dwight David Eisenhower during one of his visits to Augusta.
The first principal of the school was Mr. Bernie Ward. Mr. Ward served as principal for 22 years until he retired in May, 1975. In the school’s early years, enrollments exceeded 1000 students, making it necessary to utilize the library, clinic, stage and even a bookroom as temporary classrooms. One year, three third grade classes were put in Sunday School rooms at the Hillcrest Baptist Church. Butler High School also served as temporary housing for the seventh grade classes from 1960-61. Mobile units alleviated the crowded conditions, and more schools were added in the area; however, in the early days, classes of 40 or more students per teacher were not uncommon.
Wheeless Road School was selected as one of the top four elementary schools in the county for continuous progress in raising scores on the state criterion referenced tests for the 1985-86 school year. That year, temporary classrooms were built inside the the lunchroom to house the remedial reading and math classes. Even with the large enrollment, attendance averaged 95.4%. The school won the first place prize in the school system’s Clean Community competition, and received professional landscaping for the front and sides of the school. The school was also the first in the Richmond County School System to receive air-conditioning, which was funded by a PTA fundraiser that earned $15,000. The units were installed in 1979-80.
Wheeless Road School remained a neighborhood elementary school for grades 1-7 until the 1972-73 school term, when it became a school for grades 4-7. During the 1976-77 school year, Wheeless Road School returned to a neighborhood school for grades 1-7. Kindergarten began at the school in 1978.