- February 15, 2023
Before West Orange High School offered educational opportunities to local students starting in 1976, the school bell rang at two other Winter Garden high schools: Lakeview and Drew.
Lakeview High was on the west side of the city, and Charles R. Drew High was located in the predominantly black east side of Winter Garden.
An exhibition at the Winter Garden Heritage Museum showcases photographs, artifacts and other memorabilia saved from those school days, dating back from their inception to the days of segregation to the day when all students in Winter Garden could attend classes together.
“While the history of Lakeview High School has always been featured prominently at the Winter Garden Heritage Museum, thanks to items shared recently by members of the African-American community, we are able to highlight aspects of life at Drew High School,” Jim Crescitelli, WGHF director, said. “Rhonda Massey Steib recently shared photos and archived items that we are able to present in the exhibit.”
Education in east Winter Garden was scarce and underfunded in the early part of the 20th century. It improved vastly once William and Juanita Maxey arrived from Jacksonville and committed themselves to providing quality education to the city’s black children.
Both schools boasted successful football teams through the years.
Orange County Public Schools fully integrated its white and black student bodies in the 1969-70 school year when all Drew students transferred to Lakeview High in Winter Garden and the neighboring Ocoee High School. Five years later, the local high schools would merge again when West Orange High was built in Winter Garden.