Banks High School

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Banks High School
1960s Banks HS aerial.jpg
Active 1957–1980s
School type Public
District Birmingham City Schools
Grades 9-12
Colors Columbia blue and scarlet
Mascot Jets
Location 720 86th Street South, (map)

L. Frazier Banks High School (originally South East Lake High School) was a high school in the Birmingham Public School System from 1957 until the 1980s, after which it was converted into a middle school until it was finally closed in 2007. It was named for former superintendent L. Frazier Banks and occupied six buildings in a residential area on 86th Street South at 8th Avenue South in the South East Lake neighborhood. The capacity of the school was 1,192.

Plans for the school were approved in 1955. Some residents objected to the chosen site. The Old College Station Community Club wrote to the school board with concerns about traffic, sidewalks, the difficulty of developing athletic fields on the rugged terrain, and a reticence to "thrust themselves" upon the African American residents occupying housing in the vicinity. Since the land for the school and the neighboring South East Lake Elementary School had already been purchased and plans drawn by Warren, Knight & Davis architects, the board dismissed the opposition.

The design of the school addressed the terrain on the 25-acre site by stretching out along a contour with a string of one-story classroom pavilions connected by covered walkways and interrupted by larger structures for the gymnasium, auditorium, lunchroom and offices. The classrooms were finished with asphalt tile floors, acoustical ceilings and flourescent lighting to supplement the high clerestories set above the roof line of the connecting walkways. Construction was financed with funds from 1953 and 1956 bond issues.

The school was opened as a high school in 1957 and, at first, accepted only freshmen. The first graduating class matriculated in 1961. The school's athletic teams in that 1960-61 season won the Birmingham city football, basketball and baseball championships. The football team, initially made up of those who didn't make the Woodlawn team as freshmen, was coached by Jimmy Tarrant. The basketball team was coached by Albert Morton.

In 1961, the Alabama Air National Guard loaned the school a U.S. Air Force F-86D "Sabre" [1] which was a relic of the Korean War. The plane was painted in the school colors of Columbia blue and scarlet and was installed as a mascot and landmark on the roof of the school.

The 1965 Banks Jets football team, led by head coach Shorty White, went 10-0 and won a state championship. White's 1972 and 1973 teams went on to secure consecutive 4A titles, as well. The school was recognized nationally as a football power, even appearing in the pages of National Geographic. Future NFL quarterback Jeff Rutledge led the team into a 1974 showdown with Woodlawn High School and running back Tony Nathan at Legion Field. The crowd was estimated at 42,000.

The last graduating class of Banks High School was in 1989. Students at Banks going into the 1989–1990 school year were given the option to go to either Woodlawn or Huffman High Schools. In 1990, Banks was converted into a middle school under the direction of Superintendent Cleveland Hammonds.

After several failed requests for proposals to redevelop the Banks campus, the Birmingham City Council approved a contract to demolish it in spring 2021. Work on the site began on July 6 of that year.


Notable alumni


External links