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Forty, 50, even 60 years later, Athens High and Industrial School and Burney-Harris High School alumni still remember their school song.

More than 100 of them sang it Saturday after unveiling a plaque marking the site of Georgia’s first high school for African Americans at what’s now a vacant lot at the corner of North Pope and Reese streets.

“We can’t bring the structure back,” said Charles Stroud, a 1957 graduate and the alumni association president. “That’s gone. But we can always remember our heritage.”

The building, torn down in the 1960s, dated to 1868, when it was the Knox Institute, a private school founded to educate freed slaves. The public Reese Street School, later Athens High and Industrial, moved into the building in 1933. Leading educator Samuel Harris, who some believe was the first African American to attend the University of Georgia, was principal until he died in 1935.

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In 1957, when the city and county school districts combined, AHIS moved again to what is now the H.T. Edwards Building off Hancock Avenue and changed its name to Burney-Harris in 1964.

Burney-Harris consolidated with all-white Athens High to form Clarke Central High School when segregation ended in 1970.

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