The renaming of the activity center at Wetumpka Elementary School was approved Tuesday night by the Elmore County Board of Education.
The center will now be known as the W.B. Doby Activity Center in honor of a prominent black educator in the community. Welton Blanton Doby was revered in the county as an advocate for the education of black children.
He was the Principal of Elmore County Training School from 1930 until his death in 1957. Doby, backed by a team of dedicated teachers, made it possible for the school to be among the first to be accredited by the Alabama State Department of Education. He was also the first president of the Elmore County Teacher’s Association.
In 1963, a newly built high school for black students was named in his honor. The school existed from 1963 until 1969 when schools integrated and students began attending Wetumpka High School.
Doby High had only two principals, Robert A. Geeter from 1963 to 1967 and Theodore L. Jackson, Sr. from 1968 to 1969.
The school became Wetumpka Junior High School for a short period of time before becoming Wetumpka Elementary.
In 2015, the Alabama Historical Commission approved a historical marker for the site, and a committee raised $5,700 to purchase the marker. An unveiling ceremony took place in April 2016.
Wetumpka natives Winfred Wise, Bobby Pierson and Andre Jackson submitted the proposal for the name change to the school board.
“It was important to us that this be done because Mr. Doby’s legacy is extremely important in the black community of Wetumpka,” Wise said.
Elmore County superintendent Richard Dennis said Doby made an impact on the lives of several people during his tenure.
“We are proud to recognize Mr. Doby’s achievements by renaming the activity center in his honor,” Dennis said. “He influenced a lot of people over the years and those people turned around and helped more people.”
In fact, Dennis said Doby High’s second principal, Theodore L. Jackson, Sr., was responsible for hiring him and his mother into the school district years ago.
Wise and Dennis plan to meet in the coming days to arrange a day and time to properly celebrate the renaming of the activity center. Details about the celebration are forthcoming.