Ike Sims Jr. of Austell was in the first group of students to integrate when he was in the sixth grade.
He recalled that the first day of school all of the white students ran from the nine, Sims said.
“I was not intimidated,” he said.
During the first month some of the students would call him names and pick on him, but by the second month all of the students started becoming friends, Sims said.
“Nobody ever touched me,” he said.
Sims said he believes his confidence, which his parents instilled in him, was the reason other children befriended him so quickly.
Sims and retired teacher and counselor Joan Battle agreed Paulding County had a smooth transition with integration of its schools. Neither one saw any protests, or needed any security.
In 1969 Dallas High School, Hiram High School and Matthews Consolidated High School merged to form Paulding County High School. The schools were brought together in the winter, which was the middle of the school year, Battle said.
Battle taught social studies at Matthews before the schools merged, and then became one of the first black teachers at Paulding County High. She worked for the school district for 40 years.
“The year we first merged I don’t know if we accomplished much,” she said.
Battle said she believes students were not happy because they all still felt like they came from separate schools.
“When we started in the fall everybody became comfortable,” she said.
She never had any trouble with students other than one class which liked to play a few harmless jokes, Battle said.
“It didn’t have anything to do with race — they were just kids,” she said.
She also never saw any fights between students, and was never called anything negative herself, Battle recalled.
Sims said the worst thing he experienced was being on the high school’s first football team.
The coaches made it known he would not be allowed to play in the games because he was black.
Since he stayed on the team when all other black students quit, his leadership made it possible for everyone to have a chance to play the next year, he said.