In September of 1981, the new and much anticipated Benjamin Elijah Mays High School opened it's doors. After the esteemed Southwest Atlanta High School officially closed in June of 1981, Mays was on the watch-list for all of Atlanta to see. This great institution was the first Atlanta Public School named for a living African American male. Dr. Benjamin E. Mays had been held in highest regard as a nationally known humanitarian, scholar and civil rights activist. As the doors of Mays High School would officially open at 3450 Benjamin E. Mays Drive, Dr. Mays himself would witness this great moment in Atlanta history. The first principal of Mays High School was Mr. Thomas E. Wood, Jr. Known for his distinguished career in education, Mr. Wood was likely chosen for this important community role because of his commitment to molding and shaping the lives of young people. Mr. Wood served as Principal for one year and retired in 1982 as the first graduating class of Mays High School would set it's history in stone.
Upon opening, Mays High was touted as a Science and Mathematics Academy. In 1987 Mays was recognized as a National School of Excellence. Since then the academic structure has been re-framed to represent Smaller Learning Communities. Mays offers four learning communities that include the following schools; Science and Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, Business and Entrepreneurship, and the single gender based Leadership Academies; the Eagle Academy for male students and the Dorothy Height Academy for females.
In October 2011 the Mays Alumni Association established the Thomas E. Wood, Jr. scholarship in honor of his dedicated service and bold leadership. Mr. Wood spoke at the occasion and expressed eternal gratitude and his wish for all students to fulfill their destiny by rising above all obstacles. Mr. Wood continued to support this scholarship until his passing in September 2014. Other Principals that have served as distinguished leaders to the students of Mays have been Dr. Ruby McClendon (1982-1993), Mr. Ronald Brown (1993-2002), Dr. Tyronne Smith (2002-2014), Mr. Richard Fowler (2014-2019), and the current principal Dr. Mulanta Wilkins who joined the Mays family in 2019.
Mays High School has been, and remains the Pride of Southwest Atlanta. Mays has achieved numerous athletic honors and recently played in the Football State Championship. This had not been accomplished by any APS school since the 1973 Southwest High School Championship team. With it's rich history of academic successes, career, entertainment and political notables, the Image is being upheld and the Legacy continues. Join our Alumni Association efforts as we work to enhance educational opportunities for current and future students, and continue to keep the legacy of excellence to maintain the image of the best and brightest in Atlanta Public Schools.