P.D. Jackson-Olin High School opened as Western High School in September 1952 under the leadership of its first principal, Pierre Denson Jackson. At the time there were 490 ninth and tenth graders and 22 faculty members. The eleventh and twelfth grades were added over the next two years. By September 1954, there were more than 1060 students.
When the two-story, 22-room brick school opened it had a library, cafeteria and a detached building that was temporarily used as a place for physical education? A vocational building was added later.
Students used the school's tools and teachers to help them excel in band, the classroom and on the sports field. Students soon earned a reputation as being dedicated community servants with outstanding educational backgrounds.
The school's Western High Mustangs football team played its first game during the 1954-55 school year. The team went on to win the city and Jefferson County football championship in 1955. The track team also set enviable records during 1955, winning first place among city high schools. During the 1955-56 school year, students received various awards in math, music and physics during the State academic Meet. Also, the school received state accreditation in 1954; and earned accreditation from the Southern Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges in 1957.
The school saw its first name change during the 1953-54 school year when the F.W. Olin Foundation gave $600,000 grant for the construction of a vocational high school. The school was soon re-named Western-Olin High School. The school experienced another name change upon the May 1973 retirement of Dr. Jackson. In honor of Dr. Jackson, Western Olin High School was renamed P.D. Jackson-Olin High School. Six more principals would follow his lead. Dr. Andrew L. Jones served from 1973-1977; Charles Townsend served from 1977-1992; Doris Willis served from 1992-1997; and Linda Parson served from 1997- 2008. Anthony Gardner assumed the post in 2008-2010. Janice S. Drake was appointed principal in January 2011 to present.
In 1998, declining enrollment and deteriorating buildings at P.D. Jackson -Olin and Ensley High schools prompted the Birmingham Board of Education to approve consolidating student enrollment and constructing a new building for both student bodies. In 2001, with the help of the Ensley Community, the school board agreed to name the combined student bodies P.D. Jackson-Olin High School. In 2003, the Birmingham City School board members approved a capital plan to build a $37 million dollar new facility on an expanded site of the existing area. The new address is 1300 avenue F. Ensley.
In Fall 2006, Jackson-Olin moved to a new $30.8 million, 300,000 square foot building and merged its student body with the former Ensley High School. The new school has a capacity of 1,800 students in 83 classrooms on 2 floors. There is a 450 seat cafeteria, 1,800 seat gymnasium, 750 seat auditorium, a practice gym and a football stadium at the new campus. A career wing houses classrooms for auto repair, welding, and culinary arts as well as science labs.
The new campus offers the latest in high technology equipment and labs; educational centers; and state-of-the-art sports facilities. Some of the other amenities include: a 4,500-seat stadium with a 6-lane running track and football field; two career tech centers; a greenhouse; an ROTC firing range; a multi-purpose science lab; and an area in the consumer sciences department for a Young Mothers' Program. A statue of Dr. P.D. Jackson has been installed in the school's front courtyard, which will decorate a paved area for more than 1,000 commemorative bricks that will be available for purchase.
Jackson-Olin remains rich in educational history, producing successful graduates who have gone on to become lawyers, doctors, politicians, professional sports figures, singer, Olympic gold medalist, scientists, entrepreneurs, educators and more. At Jackson-Olin, teachers and support staff are always ready to give directions and leadership to students on the road to better education, better life skills and a better career.
Jackson-Olin High School is the largest Birmingham City public high school and is located in the western section of Birmingham. The students of Jackson-Olin High School are residents of an urban community with an approximate population of 34,000. The average income is $24,675. The racial composition of the community is predominantly African American. The community has a mix of retail businesses, medical facilities, service industries, and manufacturing. Steel mills were the primary industry until the 1970s. The total enrollment of Jackson-Olin High School is 1439 (671 male & 768 female).