Caverna 1957

Caverna 1957-1961

August 1957

The new high school opened on 31-W in Hart County just north of the Barren County line.  Caverna Junior High moved from its former site in Cave City and Caverna Senior High moved from Horse Cave into a combined junior high – senior high.  The school system also became one of the first in the commonwealth to become fully integrated.

Park City Daily News, Bowling Green, Kentucky – Aug 16, 1957

Caverna To Have Full Integration

HORSE CAVE, Ky. (Spl.)  —  The Caverna Independent School District, embracing parts of Barren and Hart Counties centered about the twin cities of Cave City and Horse Cave, will undergo complete racial integration beginning Sept. 3.

The integration move coincides with the opening of a new $310,000 high school plant located on U.S. 31-W between Cave City and Horse Cave.

*  *  *

Partial integration was planned for September 1956, but was delayed due to the crowded conditions prevalent in Caverna Schools.  Completion of the new building make(s) integration possible.

School officials expect 308 white students and 36 Negro students to enroll in the integrated high school this September.  About 475 white children and 66 Negroes are expected in the systems’s two elementary school(s) catering to the first six grades.  One elementary school is at Cave City the other is located at Horse Cave.

The acceptance of the new high school building and the integration plan was announced by Ralph Dorsey, Caverna High School superintendent, and Paul R. Huddleston of Bowling Green, Legal advisor for the Caverna School District.

However, integration of the school system came as no surprise to citizens, students and school patrons of the Caverna school district, both white and Negro.

“we feel we have done a good job getting ready for integration.  Our orientation program has been going on for two years,” a high ranking school official said today.

*  *  *

A citizens committee report on problems related to integration made in early 1956 asked that “the people of the district be oriented to the legal, moral, and economic necessities for integration.”

The committee also recommended that teachers under the new setup be employed on the basis of tenure and qualifications, with regard to the ratio of white to Negro pupils.  A thorough orientation program for teachers before integration was also recommended.

Newton Thomas is the only Negro teacher in the integrated system.  He will teach elective courses in higher mathematics at Caverna High School.

Thomas has been a teacher, coach, and principal of the Negro high school at Horse Cave for the past 21 years,  He gained wide fame with his Negro state championship basketball teams in the 1940’s.

*  *  *

Thomas holds a masters degree from the University of Kentucky.  A second Negro teacher, Miss Clara Anderson, was entitled to employment in the school system because of tenure, but has resigned to accept a teaching position at Park City.

“This year it was a battle for survival,” one board of education member stated.  “We had to integrate our schools or lose some of them.”

Members of the Caverna School Board are Wilson Edmunds and W. Ray Scott, both of Cave City, and W. S. Moss Jr., chairman; Cleo Neville and Dr, J. T. Payton, all of Horse Cave.


Ralph C. Dorsey was the superintendent of schools.

In addition to being school superintendent, Dorsey was also the head basketball coach and head baseball coach.  He was a 1988 Dawahares – KHSAA High School Sports Hall of Fame Inductee:

Ralph Dorsey – High school athletics was a major and vital part of his life…He was an all-state tournament basketball player at Horse Cave, where his 1933 and 1934 teams were unbeaten during the regular season…His ’33 team lost in the finals to Ashland…As a coach, he led Caverna to a third place state tournament finish in 1953…His 1961 Caverna baseball team won the state championship…An eight-year Board of Control member, he was President in 1968-69 of both the Board of Control and the Kentucky High School Coaches Association.

1957 was also the year that the Horse Cave  School (Colored) closed and complete integration occurred within the Caverna Independent School System.  Professor Newton Thomas, the former principal at the Horse Cave School, took a position as science and mathematics teacher at Caverna High School.

Thomas, Newton S.

Birth Year : 1912

Death Year : 2004

Thomas was born in Georgetown, KY. He graduated from Kentucky Normal and Industrial [now Kentucky State University]. A teacher at the Horse Cave (KY) Colored School (which had four rooms and more than 100 students), he became principal of the school in 1936. Thomas also coached the basketball team of nine players. They had no gym but won 65 games per season in 1944 and 1945, claiming the Negro League State Championship both years. In 1957, Newton Thomas was the first African American to teach at an integrated school in Kentucky, Caverna Independent High School in Horse Cave. For more see J. Mcalister, “Newton Thomas, coach of 2 basketball champions, dies at 92,” Lexington Herald-Leader, 12/03/04; and Shadows of the Past: a history of the Kentucky High School Athletic League, by L. Stout.

Subjects: Basketball, Education and Educators, Grade Schools & High Schools in Kentucky

Geographic Region: Georgetown, Scott County, Kentucky / Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky / Horse Cave, Hart County, Kentucky

Also see:

Wilbur Smith became the new principal at Caverna Junior High/Senior High, succeeding Roy Dickey Reynolds, the previous appointee, who laid much of the groundwork for the newly combined schools including integration and scheduling.


One comment on “Caverna 1957

  1. Joel says:

    The second link (above) for Newton Thomas provides a lot of insight into the integration process, beginning at the bottom of page 36 in the document.

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