The Laing school association works to preserve the root of STEM

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Many know Laing as one of the best STEM colleges in the country, but Laing has a long, rich history dating back to just after the Civil War. It is the first accredited school to educate freed slaves in South Carolina. Laing graduates continue to work to honor history and nurture a living legacy.

Laing has a long and rich history. Pearl Ascue is President of the Laing School Association and a member of the newest class of Laing High School. She says, “Over 100 years of founding the root of STEM. We have so many branches now of that root, the root of Laing High School. When you talk about the history of education in South Carolina, especially here east of Cooper here in Mount Pleasant, that story has to be told.

In the aftermath of the Civil War, the school was founded in 1866 by Cornelia Hancock, a Quaker and Union Army nurse. She started school in a church in the old village of Mount Pleasant for freed slaves. Ascue said, “Laing was not always called Laing’s school. It was originally called The School of Negroes. Then later, over the years, the school was named in honor of Henry M. Laing. It’s such a rich story.

From 1866 to 1970, the Laing segregation had ten directors. Laing has evolved over the years … and eventually became a high school on Highway 17 in the community of Six Mile in 1953. The high school was closed in 1970 after the Charleston County schools were desegregated.

After years of hard work, the association recently erected and unveiled a historic monument on the site of the old school. A Home Depot now sits on the grounds. The arch of the old school has been preserved and can be found today at the entrance to the store.

Dorothy E. Fludd is the historian of the Laing School Association. She was instrumental in efforts to preserve Laing’s history. Laughing, she said, “I am a member of the class of 1955, the largest class that has ever existed. Fludd says: “Because of the importance of its history, where it started over 150 years ago, and began to educate the recently freed slaves, and gave them a chance to become an important and operational part of the community.” Fludd says the marker symbolizes respect. “It means that we as a people would be respected, that we have contributed to this country. “

Plans are also in the works for a memorial court, which will honor students who entered Moultrie High School in 1965. Wando High School students developed the concept plan.
The courtyard will surround this memorial tree. Ascue says, “The memorial tree represents Brown’s 50th anniversary against Board of Education. It was planted at the original high school. Laing High School, Laing Middle School site, but when Home Depot purchased the property it was moved from that location to the old Laing and placed here in the easement area.

There is also a plaque in front of the Home Depot store in honor of the veterans. Laing became the first school in Charleston County to accept veterans who graduate from high school.
Ascue says, “Laing School was the first school to take in veterans in 1955 after they returned from the war to come back to school to complete their studies.

When asked what your hope is when people come to this area and see the historical marker and the memorial court, Fludd said, “I hope they think about the legacy that has been left, that people who have contributed to this region, they would be known, their names would be recognized, that they have done something in their life and that they must pass it on to the youngest people who accompany them.

LSA also creates a Laing School Endowment Fund for scholarships. Ascue says, “This means this is the middle of a journey, this is not the end. We could pass the torch to college students, they can take it on an eternal journey. This is not the end. History is the past. Laing is a living heritage.

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