"The mission statement of the Leflore County School District is to provide a quality formal education to enable its students to achieve academic success and become productive, contributing members of society."
The History of the
Leflore County School System
The first school house was constructed in 1888 with Miss Emma Cross serving as the first teacher. Itta Bena High School was erected in 1905 in “Old Town” and was a source of pride among its residents. The course offerings were stringent in order to meet the state university requirements. By 1912, the school had more than 250 white students and 6 teachers. In the early 1900s, in the “Balance Due” section of town, about 125 black students were taught for a session of four months in a local church with J.T. Strong serving as the principal. By 1912, nearly 350 students were being taught daily for a term of six months in a year.
The “Colored High School” was built in 1915 to serve the academic needs of the growing Black population in Itta Bena. In 1920 the name was changed to the Leflore County Training School. Classes were offered to all 12 grade levels. In 1930, Luther Thurman Brazil became the principal of the school and became a positive household name as he served as a mentor, role model, leader and sometimes even a parent to nearly every black student in Itta Bena for twenty years. In 1950, Mr. Ford became the principal and served in that capacity until the school was closed a decade later. Students prided themselves on receiving the opportunity to ring the school bell which resounded across the neighborhood.
In 1960, Amanda Elzy Consolidated School for Leflore County opened in Greenwood, MS and the students from the Leflore County Training School were bused to Greenwood, MS. Over the next few years with integration and public transportation restructuring, the students eventually began attending Leflore County Middle and High Schools; and some attended Pala Alto Private School and
were taught by Professor Gentry.
The Leflore County Training School stood vacant for nearly 15 years with community residents and local civic groups occasionally holding meetings there. The community celebrated in 1975 when the property was deeded to the town of Itta Bena to serve as a community center. There was a consensus that the community center be named the L.T. Brazil Community Center in recognition for the commitment and dedication of their former principal. Principal Brazil (as he was always affectionately called even by non-students) lived to see the building name dedication. He eventually died on September 1, 1980 at the age of 87. In 1985 former students joined and created the Leflore County Training School Reunion Club which still meets every two years and has a membership roster of residents from across the United States.
The Brazil Center remained an integral component in the educational and recreational needs of the “Balance Due” community. The Itta Bena Head Start Center which started as a Pilot Program in 1965 in a local church and was formally organized in 1966 had moved its entire program to the Brazil Community Center. One of the project supporters, Hellon Smith, remained a faithful educator with the Head Start Program from its inception until the early 1990s.
Several years later, the callous actions of arsonists resulted in the community center in flames. The entire Itta Bena community experienced a saddened moment as they stood glazing at the blazes. The community residents along with city officials supported the constructing of a brand new L.T. Brazil Community Center. Today Leflore County Elementary and High Schools are the main locations for primary and secondary education. The erection of Mississippi Valley State University has served as an institution of higher education for more than 90% of Itta Bena’s college bound residents.
Luther Thurman Brazil
Sketch of orignal school
Fire consumed the school
Current Brazil Center