Interview with Harold Engstrom
QUESTION 20
INTERVIEWER:

IN THAT FIRST YEAR, THERE ARE REPORTS THAT THERE WAS A FAIR AMOUNT OF HARASSMENT OF THE BLACK STUDENTS IN THE SCHOOL. THE GIRLS TALK ABOUT GETTING SCALDED IN THE SHOWER, OR GETTING KICKED IN THE HALLS. WHAT DID THE ADMINISTRATION DO ABOUT THIS?

Harold Engstrom:

Well, our major role after the occupation of the 101st Airborne, and the fact that integration could technically proceed, we were in business, the students were in school, and we were doing some teaching, was to maintain order. The segregationists, frustrated by the tremendous force of the army, were frustrated in their efforts to prevent it. So their only course, that they thought would solve the problem, and get the students out of school, was to make it so miserable, or so dangerous, or so fearful, that we couldn't continue. And so they worked it from within the student population. They got students to try to make it impossible for the students to continue going to school. And they tried about everything anyone could. We had to respond to such terrible decisions as whether to shut down school with a bomb scare, and that's a hard decision. You have hundreds of students in close range of some possible bomb an you're told that the likelihood is only one in ten that it's – that it's real. Well, do you proceed, or do you take the students out? I was proud of our board, I was proud of our administration, I was proud of the people in the school - the teachers and the administrators in the school, and especially our maintenance personnel, that resolved ways to try to get as much factual information – we searched the lockers, we has as much factual information as we could. I was proud of our Board, and our superintendent, that we quite often went ahead and proceeded with school with the possibility that the bomb scare was real. It turned out we didn't have any real bombs.