BENTON HIGH SCHOOL HISTORY
The first Benton School was erected in 1890 and was located on Mr. W.G. Stinson's land, west of the Cotton Belt Railroad tracks. It was paid for by private subscription donated by the good people of Benton. It was a two-story structure, with the school occupying the bottom floor ant the second story being reserved for the Masonic Lodge. It had been in existence only a short while when dissension arose and two factions were formed. Some of the most influential members of the opposing faction built another schoolhouse and some students moved to that location. The dissension was soon resolved, however, and the students returned to the original school.
By 1905, the school had increased to three teachers and had its first graduating class. The primary teacher taught grades 1-3, the secondary teacher taught grades 4 and 5, and the principal taught grades 6 and up. There were no more than 25 students in grades 6-12, with some grades missing.
The people realized the need for a new building and in 1907 a new frame building was erected for $4,500.00. It was the first school in Bossier Parish built using tax money. It lasted until bonds were sold in 1922 and a new, modern two-story school was completed and occupied by 1924. The school was located n what is now called "School Board Square" and housed eight teachers and 140 pupils. Total cost was $75,000.00. Enrollment increased dramatically and in three years another two-room framed building was added.
In 1939, a combination gym/auditorium was added and further improvements occurred when a new cafeteria and another building adjacent to the school was built in 1956. This became the junior high building and the old cafeteria was converted to a band room.
The last separate-but-equal class graduated in May of 1969 when the Supreme Court ordered desegregation on February 1, 1970. The all-black school, C.H. Irion High School, became Benton Elementary and for the first time, black and white students attended classes together.
On September 27, 1976, an act of arson burned down the junior high wing. The seventh grade was sent to Benton Elementary and the eight grade remained with the high school until the fall of 1978 when the eighth graders were sent to the elementary school as well.
A 25-acre tract of land originally planned for a horseracing track was obtained by the school board and the present high school was opened during the 1978-1979 school year. This school housed grades 9-12. An additional wing and gym were added in the mid 1980s and the 1985-1986 school year brought the seventh and eight grades from the elementary school to once again be united with the high school students.
Presently, a new middle school stands due north of the high school. It opened in the 1999-2000 school year and houses 5-8. Benton High School serves grades 9-12 only, although a new mega-sized gym, track, and football stadium is shared with the middle school.