In School, 1911-1918
After R. B. finished primary school in 1911, the Russells faced the question of where to send him for his secondary education. There was a high school in Winder, but Judge Russell did not consider it adequate for his eldest son. He wanted R. B. to attend an institution with stronger academic credentials. The school that met this requirement was Gordon Military Institute in Barnesville, Georgia. Many Georgians considered Gordon Institute to be one of the best preparatory schools in the South.
The curriculum at Gordon matched that of some of the best schools in the country. The institute offered courses in algebra, geometry, and trigonometry; in science there were classes in botany, chemistry, physics, geography, and geology. Foreign languages included Latin, Greek, French, and German. Work was also offered in history, English, literature, and other subjects. It was from among these solid academic courses that students fulfilled the requirements for the so-called classical course. 1
Gordon Military Institute also had a strong faculty. In 1912 Edward T. Holmes became president. A native of Augusta, Georgia, Holmes had graduated from Gordon in 1888 and later attended Mercer University, Harvard University, and the University of Chicago. He taught Latin at Mercer for seventeen years before assuming the Gordon presidency. The vice president, L. D. Watson, was also a native Georgian who had solid academic training. After graduating from the University of Georgia with a major in mathematics in 1897, Watson pursued advanced studies at Harvard and the University of Chicago. Other members of the faculty also had strong academic backgrounds, many holding master's degrees. The institute offered an impressive group of teachers who demanded high standards and hard work from the boys and girls, most of whom came from the state's best families.
The quality of the faculty and the rigorous academic program were