Dodge County High School was opened on September 2, 1957, when five high schools in smaller communities such as Chauncey, Chester, Dodge, Eastman, and Rhine were consolidated. The decision to merge the students was made during Superintendent Manning Tripp’s term of office. The new high school would be located in Eastman which was and is the county seat.
The cost of construction of the new high school was approximately $450,000 which included the land, building, and equipment. The football stadium was named Memorial Stadium in memory of the men from Dodge County who died in World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. The stadium was valued at $30,000 upon completion. However, it was constructed at a minimal cost because of donations in both materials and labor from local citizens.
According to the Dodge County Board of Education minutes from April 2, 1957, newly elected School Superintendent Edward L. McCranie recommended twenty-four faculty members for the new high school. During its first year of operation there were 688 students enrolled in grades nine through twelve at Dodge County High School. Extracurricular activities were offered to the students at DCHS. These included basketball, football, cheerleading, fifteen school clubs, and a thirty-five member band. Physical education classes were transported to two elementary school gyms because no gymnasium had been constructed as of yet. The first year ended with 110 students graduating from this new alma mater.
Dodge County High School has seen many changes over the past forty-nine years. Ten different administrators have been at the helm of DCHS to this date. L.D. Bowen served as principal until 1969. Others that have led DCHS since 1969 include Paul Studstill (1969-1973), Del H. Knight (1973-1975), John Paul Jones (1975-1976), Herbert Galbreath (1976-1977), Dr. G. L. Eckles (1977-1982), Billy Nicholson (1982-1986), Riska Rogers (1986-1988), Aubrey H. Corbitt (1988- 2003), and Dr. Susan W. Long, who began her term as principal in 2002 and continues to serve in the position today. These men and women have witnessed many changes in the educational direction of the school program. Included in these changes is the implementation of a DCT program in the 1959-60 school term. In 1961-62, DCHS was selected by the State Department of Education to pilot a program in Business Education. In 1962-63, construction was begun on the school’s new $160,000 gymnasium. The new gym and a multi-purpose building were completed in 1963-64. Peabody High School, which was the African-American high school, was closed in 1970 and the students were consolidated with DCHS. All ninth graders were moved to the junior high to make room for the consolidation. In 1977-78, air conditioners were installed in the classrooms. In 1978-79, construction began on a new classroom wing, and the lunchroom and library were enlarged to make room for the ninth graders to return to DCHS. Also in 1979, the gym was officially named the L.D. Bowen Memorial Gymnasium, after the school’s first principal, and the ninth graders were moved back to the high school. Construction began on a vocational building in 1980, and was completed within two years. This new wing contained 25,000 square feet with six laboratories and four classrooms.
Because of overcrowding and outdated facilities in the county, local school board officials approved the building of a new high school in 2001, and plans began to get underway. The plan included for the old high school to be renovated and eventually become the new middle school, while the old middle school would one day house grades three, four, and five, and the two elementary schools would include kindergarten through second grades. Ground broke on the $16.2 million new school on December 18, 2003, and Open House was held almost two years later on December 11, 2005. Staff and students moved into the new school over Christmas holidays and began second semester on January 4, 2006, in the 128,077 square foot, technologically advanced, multi-million dollar new Dodge County High School.
The new school includes four wings, as well as a high-tech Vocational wing which houses a totally updated technology lab. DCHS also played its first season of basketball in the 39, 851 square foot state-of-art gymnasium which seats over 2500 people, and includes a modern four-sided scoreboard hanging from the ceiling. DCHS will add a $4 million auditorium, paid for by local SPLOST funds, sometime in the next two years; the auditorium will be used by the high school’s award-winning choral group and one-act play members, along with other various groups.
As the facility has seen many changes during the last forty-nine years, the faculty at Dodge County High School has also grown to meet the needs of the community. The faculty, which once numbered twenty-four members, currently has sixty-three certified teachers and approximately forty other staff members which includes administrative assistants, paraprofessionals, lunchroom workers, and janitorial staff. Several of the faculty teaches at local colleges, including Middle Georgia College and Mercer University. Of the sixty-three certified teachers, twenty-one hold a bachelor’s degree, twenty-eight have a Master’s degree, nine have specialist’s degrees, and two staff members hold a doctoral degree.
Dodge County High School staff and administration work diligently to accomplish the school’s mission. The Mission Statement declares, “The purpose of DCHS is to prepare students to become lifelong learners with respect for themselves and others as they become productive citizens in our multi-cultural and technological society while providing a safe environment and curriculum which is both varied and challenging.” Much of this goal has been accomplished through the variety of courses and options made available to students. Dodge County High School is a SACS and GAC accredited school where students can work towards a College Prep, College Prep Plus, Tech Prep, Tech Prep Plus, or Community Achievement Program diplomas. Course work within these various diploma areas may include such innovative programs as EMAC (Educational Media Academic Courses), which consists of foreign language offerings in Latin, German, and Japanese, and often institutes video or phone lessons. Another program offered to high academic achieving students is found in the Georgia ACCEL program. ACCEL offers postsecondary options with Middle Georgia College and Georgia Aviation and Technical College. Apprenticeship programs are offered to students pursuing a Tech Prep or Tech Prep Plus diploma. Apprenticeship areas include Teacher Cadet, Child Care, Heating and Air, Aircraft-sheet metal, and Health Occupations, and are offered through dual enrollment with Heart of Georgia Technical College. The Instructional Support Department offers special education students the opportunity to get work site experiences in addition to their regular courses of study. All students are given the option of taking coursework during the traditional school day hours, or they may take advantage of flexible scheduling which allows them to begin their school day one hour earlier. During this time, students may work in elective areas such as journalism, driver’s education, child care, video art, and NOVANET, which is used as a credit recovery program to encourage students to graduate on time and/or for some students to get ahead with certain courses to perhaps graduate early.
Dodge County is a rural area that has seen many changes during the last fifty years. DCHS had 1,050 students enrolled at one time, the highest on record. However, after the closing of the local cotton mill, which resulted in many people losing their jobs and moving out of the area, the enrollment dropped to a low of 850. As the community has experienced growth and added several big name stores during the last several years, the high school has reflected that trend. There are currently 878 students enrolled at Dodge County High School, which includes 423 males and 455 females. The racial make-up of DCHS is approximately 57% white, 35% black, 2.4% Hispanic, 1.2% Asian/Pacific Islander, 2.1% multiracial, 3.3% other.
Norman Lamm once said, "The achievement of excellence requires great effort, much planning, and even more. But, in the long run, mediocrity costs more, drains your energy, and wastes even more time than it takes to do things right." Excellence has been the tradition at Dodge County High School for many years, and we strive daily to reinforce the tradition and to promote our rich school heritage. Our students are the future of Dodge County and of our country. It is our goal to prepare them to meet the challenges and opportunities that await them. Our students are the future of Dodge County and of our country. It is our goal to prepare them to meet the challenges and opportunities that await them.