During the Spanish-American War, a dream was coming true for the residents of China Grove. A "modern school" was being built. There were no funds for public education during this time. The community came together to provide the means necessary for the construction, and the county staffed the school.
Through a campaign, and a stock system, locals bought shares to finance the State High School. The structure, one of the finest of the day, housed grades one through eleven and enrolled one hundred students.
The dreams of the community did not stop there. "Many people found that the schooling received by their children at the new high school was not sufficient and began looking for other schools to supply the proper education. Due to the more scientific and efficient methods of farming and homemaking, a Farm Life School stressing agriculture and home economics, was desired." (From the Chinaberry Trees to China Grove, Baker and Scarborough, 1989)
Farm Life High School
In 1911, W.J. Swink started a campaign for such a school. Because of the great interest in the community for a Farm Life School, fundraising began. After raising $15,000 (With Mr. W.J. Swink personally donating $1,050), the state passed legislation to establish the school. Farm Life School became a reality in January 1915. A girls' dormitory was also added.
Only home economics was taught the first year. In subsequent years, students went to the State High School on Franklin Street (Now China Grove Elementary) in the morning for English, math, chemistry, and physics; Latin, history, home economics and agriculture were taught in the afternoon.
China Grove High School (Now China Grove Middle School)
The years 1919-1922 saw great changes and enormous growth in the area of education. Because the Farm Life School served such a large area, parts of Kannapolis, Landis, China Grove and even reaching to Winston-Salem, Greensboro and High Point, the number of students increased steadily. The school's campus increased from twenty to fifty acres. A boys' dormintory was added as well as new classrooms and a library, with funds raised by the school added to contributions from the county. A farm shop was added, shrubbery was planted and the county contributed $1,000 for lab equipment. The enrollment increased to 210 with sixty students living in dormitories. The faculty consisted of seven faculty members. The year 1921 saw the merging of the Farm Life School and China Grove High Schools making Farm LIfe High School the largest rural high school in the state.