Published on Thu., May 9, 2024

Wendell Walker with Dr. Baldwin & Ms. Wills holding official House of Delegates Resolution

At the LCS school board meeting on Wednesday, May 7, 2024, Delegate Wendell Walker presented a new resolution by the Virginia House of Delegates recognizing Paul Laurence Dunbar Middle School for Innovation’s 100th anniversary in 2023. 

“This resolution is quite an honor, as Dunbar has a long-standing, rich history of greatness. We are appreciative of the amazing teachers, staff, and leaders who have contributed to Dunbar's legacy over the years and are committed to ensuring the students of Lynchburg continue to have many more years of excellence,” said Dunbar Middle principal Kellie Baldwin.

For 30 years, Dunbar Middle has served the Lynchburg community as a School for Innovation. It provides unique opportunities for students to explore subjects like theatre, marine science, herpetology, world languages, television studio production, science, technology, engineering, and math. 

But Dunbar’s legacy stretches far beyond its days as a middle school. It originally opened as an all-Black high school in 1923. 

A Legacy of Black Excellence

Known then as Dunbar High School, its academic legacy started strong, with 90% of graduates moving on to higher education in the 1920s. Black teachers and administrators, including the iconic Clarence Williams Seay, continued to lead the school to academic excellence despite obstacles posed by segregation. 

Over the decades, increasing numbers of students attended Dunbar High as the curriculum extended to include vocational skills training and the faculty expanded and diversified. The school made a name for itself, winning state championships and producing alumni who went on to become leaders in their field locally, nationally, and internationally. 

Three Decades of Innovation

When Lynchburg City Schools desegregated, Dunbar High closed in 1970, and its students started attending E. C. Glass High School. It reopened in 1994 as Paul Laurence Dunbar Middle School for Innovation.

“For 30 years, Paul Laurence Dunbar Middle School for Innovation has fostered the intellectual, social, and emotional well-being of its students and nurtured the achievements of its faculty and staff, helping to make Lynchburg a wonderful place to live, work, and raise a family,” the House of Delegates stated in the resolution. 

Though it’s changed throughout the years, Dunbar Middle has always been a beacon of educational excellence in Lynchburg. The passing of this resolution is an opportunity to celebrate the school’s history and look forward to many more decades of innovation to come. 

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