Perkinston Teacher Traces History Of Community College

Did you know Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College is one day older than USM?

Have you heard what happened to the original Perkinston bulldog mascot?

History teacher Charles Sullivan answers those questions and more as he traces the 90 year history of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in a new book.

Sullivan set out to write a 200 page history of the community college. He never dreamed the finished product would be more than 600 pages long and require eight years of research and writing.

He discussed that history while giving a tour of a special archives exhibit on campus.

It started in Huff Hall. The building on the hill housed both boys and girls.

"They lived downstairs and the boys lived upstairs. And they passed notes to one another on strings.Mr. and Mrs. Huff lived in the apartment in the middle," said Sullivan, as he pointed to old photographs in his history book.

An archives exhibit invites visitors to explore Perk's past and meet its founders.

"That's Jefferson Lee Denson. He is the man who made this a junior college. That was his aim," explained Sullivan, as he traced the history of the community college.

"This is a panorama of the campus with the Class of 1924 sitting out there with Mr. Forbus who was the principal," said Sullivan, while pointing out another picture.

The dog who posed with the 1929 baseball team is Bulldog Bob. The original school mascot met an untimely end when he was mysteriously shot to death near the railroad tracks.

"And we didn't have another one until sometime in the early 1940's. I don't know why that happened either. But I could find no evidence we ever had another bulldog mascot until around 1940," Sullivan explained.

The history teacher also has rare footage of the Perkettes, the women's dance team which started in 1952. Sporting history abounds in this exhibit and the book. Perk has been home to state and national champions.

"Here's the girl's basketball team. They called them the yellow jackets. Look, they've got on bloomers," he said.

The community college history is a fascinating glimpse into something truly American.

"It's the only purely American contribution to the educational systems of the western world. Everything else began in Europe except the Junior/Community college," said Sullivan.

Charles Sullivan's history book is available at area bookstores. You can also check out the archives exhibit at the Perkinston campus.