Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology – 1969 (reorganized 1997)

The school was founded in 1969 as the Westside Skill Center, one of three institutions ultimately built across Jacksonville to offer vocational education. It was expanded in 1978, to replace the former Technical High School. In 1997 it was reorganized as a high school, still with a heavy focus on the trades, and renamed after Frank H. Peterson, a Westside businessman and philanthropist. Peterson founded boat trailer manufacturer Gator Trailers and later Diversified Products Manufacturing Company, and served in the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce. A fervent promoter of career education, Peterson worked to introduce and fund vocational classes in Duval County of the kind offered at the school that now bears his name.

Sandalwood High School – 1971

Jacksonville’s first high school never to have been segregated, Sandalwood was built to serve the growing population in the suburban Southside and eastern Arlington. The school was named after the Sandalwood development in which it was built. The neighborhood was developed starting in spring 1960 by Pearce-Uible, a firm founded by Lawrence Pearce (who had previously developed Englewood) and Frank Uible. It is named for the sandalwood, a small tree of the genus Santalum with fragrant wood used for making oils and perfumes.

Edward H. White High School – 1971

Often known as simply “Ed White,” the school was founded to relieve overcrowding at Lee and Forest (now Westside) High Schools amid the desegregation of the school system and the continuing expansion of the Westside suburbs. It was named after astronaut Edward H. White II, who had died in a tragic fire in 1967 alongside Virgil “Gus” Grissom and Roger B. Chaffee during prelaunch training for the Apollo 1 mission. One of the second group of astronauts selected by NASA, White was copilot of the Gemini IV mission, during which he became the first American and second person ever to walk in space. His return from the mission to Mayport Naval Station was a much celebrated local event. White’s parents, retired General Edward H. White I and Mary Rosina White, attended the dedication of the school named for their son in November 1971.

A. Philip Randolph Career Academies – 1977

Originally the Northside Skills Center, the school was founded to replace the former Technical High School; it was the city’s second new career center, after what is now the Frank H. Peterson Academies. The school was later renamed for A. Philip Randolph, a leader in the early civil rights and labor movements who grew up in Jacksonville’s Eastside. Randolph founded the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first predominantly black labor union, and worked in the movement that ended hiring discrimination and segregation in the 1940s. In 1963, Randolph and Bayard Rustin organized Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington.

First Coast High School – 1990

Due to the controversy surrounding Nathan B. Forrest High and other Confederate-named schools, Duval County Public Schools increasingly avoided naming new schools after people in the 1990s (this has since been enshrined in school board policy). First Coast opened in 1990 to serve students in the outer Northside. The name “First Coast” is a popular regional identity for the Jacksonville metropolitan area. It originated in a 1983 Chamber of Commerce marketing campaign designed to create a nickname for Northeast Florida; it speaks to the area’s history as the location of some of some of the earliest contacts between native peoples and Europeans, and to the fact that it’s the “first coast” travelers reach when they enter Florida.

Mandarin High School – 1990

Founded to accommodate the growing population of Southeastern Duval County, the school takes its name from the Mandarin community it serves. First settled in the 18th century, Mandarin was named in 1830 by prominent local planter Calvin Reed after the Mandarin orange. Oranges were a prominent crop in Northeast Florida, giving their name to other communities like Orange Park and Orangedale in St. Johns County, until a series of freezes and blights in the 1880s and 1890s pushed the industry into Central Florida. Mandarin oranges are so called as they are native to China, but it isn’t precisely clear how they got their name. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it may have been because their light color matched the silk robes of the imperial officials known as mandarins, or simply because they were considered the best of the Chinese oranges.

Atlantic Coast High School – 2010

Photo by Erik Hamilton.

Atlantic Coast was founded to serve Jacksonville’s ever growing Southside and to relieve overcrowding at other area high schools, in particular Sandalwood and Mandarin. The name is a general reference to its location, being relatively close to the Atlantic Ocean.


Article by Bill Delaney. Contact Bill at