High School A Century of History - 1891-1992
Contributors: Mrs. Margaret Beam, Cherryville Jr/Sr High School Secretary Mr. Ronald Kiser, Sports Editor of the Cherryville Eagle Mrs. Vera Hoyle, Cherryville Jr/Sr High School retired English teacher - 44 years Mrs. Von Eva Allran, Cherryville East Elementary retired teacher - 38 years Mrs. Barbara Allran Herman, Lenior Rhyne College English Department Grad Mr. Howell Stroupe, President Cherryville Historical Museum Mrs. Andrea McKee Beam, Newspaper Editor and Columnist (All are graduates of Cherryville Jr/Sr High School)
When it began, it was merely a renovated "corn house where a handful of students were taught four months out of the year by a teacher who collected $25 a month.
Today it is an impressive circular
structure unique to any other school in Gaston County because it houses
both junior and
But while Cherryville High School (now Cherryville Junior-Senior High School) has come a long way in 100 years, it has not come far from its roots. It rests just blocks away from that first "corn house," and its shapers and movers still keep academic improvement close to their hearts.
Still, in 1881, Cherryville had yet to come of its own. The little mill village lay then within a school district known as "'Morrison School", which was formed before Cherryville incorporated in 1881. The first school building stood a short distance northeast of the Gaston Mill on North Mountain Street. Later, another building was erected east of the Rhyne-Houser Mill on East First Street.
It was not until after 1881 that Cherryville formed its own separate school district through the efforts of County Superintendent M. L. Little. "Mr. Summit's corn house" was located near the present intersection of Main and Jacob Streets. Samuel S. Mauney was the first teacher, who presided over a four-month term at a $25-a-month salary.
Previous histories indicate other teachers that followed Mauney during the school's first decade of operation. Teachers were, from 1882-1883, J. M. Roberts; from 1882-88, Levi H. J. Houser; from 1888-1890, Mr. Royster; and from 1891-92, Lee Beam.
During that time, the Northern Methodist Church and several vacant store buildings were used as classrooms.
"Mr. L. H. J. Houser was able to extend the usual four month term to eight a year by charging tuition," early accounts read. "Mrs. W. A. Farris taught with Mr. L. H. J. Houser in one of the early schools. At that time an old store building located on North Mountain Street housed the school."
By 1892 industry and population increases brought about a need for more adequate school facilities, and the first permanent school building was erected 1892. Land was donated by W. R. Carroll and M. L. Dellinger. The school was called, simply, "The Academy". "It was a rectangular two-story frame building with one room on each f loor, and a stairway on the right to the second f loor, " early descriptions say. "The tower was surmounted with belfry and steeple."
Facing east and situated in the middle of present-day Academy Street, the building grew as the town expanded. Additions were made to the north, south and rear of the original building, followed by the attachment of porches and stairways.
The building, which was abandoned in 1915 for a new brick structure, was significant because it heralded the first graduation class of Cherryville High School two girls and four boys.
Graduates of the class of 1911 were Pantha Harrelson, Elsie Roberts, W. C. Howell, William W. Black, Louis Mauney, and Rex Eaker. The first graduation class would usher in a new era of educators for the fledgling school.
Early records listed Academy principals as John J. George, 1892-99; Capt. W. T. R. Bell, 1899-1900; Mr. Woodard, 1900-01; J. Y. Irwin, 1901-03; S. P. Wilson, 1903-1908; J. W. Strassell, 1908-11; and from 1913 until the erection of a new building, Joe R. Nixon.
Cherryville natives Mrs. John Rudisill, Miss Pearl Harrelson, David P. Dellinger, Mrs. E. E. McDowell, W. J. Allran, Sr., Mrs George Falls and Mrs. C. A. Rudisill taught in the Academy. Until 1903 there was no special tax for the support of the Cherryville School. The county funds supplied only enough money to provide instruction through the grammar grades for four months in the year. Any provisions beyond that had to he made locally.
In 1915 a new brick building was
erected, and was the first official Cherryville High School. Still,
there would be three more
That first school came only after funding could be secured from state sources. Previously, educators could count only on sparse county funds or local private monies. County funds supplied just enough money to provide instruction through the grammar grades for four months in the year. Any provision beyond that either for extending the term or teacher's salaries - had to be collected locally. For example, when Capt. Bell came to Cherryville in 1900 a special "subscription" was raised to guarantee payment of his salary. These "subscriptions" were paid largely by people who had children in school. During this period, it was not surprising that some private schools were conducted in Cherryville.
In 1902 the town voted in a special tax for the maintenance of a graded school, including the high school. Grading was achieved by S. P. Wilson and his successor, J. W. Strassell. Since that time the school has operated under the state-wide plan of public education. In 1908, the school was made a "state high school" under Strassell's administration.
A New Building
In June of 1915, the town bought a five-acre tract of land north of First Street between Pink and Depot Streets for $1450. The land was sold to the town by Joseph Black. This was where the new three-story brick school building was erected, boasting 19 classrooms and a boiler room.
But in 1919, over the Christmas holidays, the inner portion of the school burned. The walls, left standing, were included in the reconstruction of the building. Until 1925 the building was used for the high school and elementary grades.
Things were beginning to happen elsewhere, and quickly.
Joe Nixon, superintendent since 1913, was succeeded by James Rankin in 1918. In 1921 he was followed by Alfred C. Warlick from 1921-23. In 1923 Nixon returned to his post.
In 1927 the Black Rock County School district, located north of Cherryville, consolidated with the Cherryville Schools. This county school district was originally comprised of three smaller schools: Pan Handle, Grey Rock and Black School. Another. school, Hallman, also joined the consolidation.
In 1927 a modern gymnasium was completed on the school campus, just as the crest of the Great Depression brought lean times to the school. Victims were the home economics department and the public school music teacher spot, which were not regained until 1931.
Nixon left to become superintendent of nearby Lincoln County Schools and was succeeded by Hunter Huss, who has been the school s principal since 1924.
The mid 1930's saw a modest recovery. school building was completed in 1936. Yet another senior high school building was completed in 1936. The old high school building became home to the first seven grades and was called "Elementary Number 1 School". In 1956 the building was renovated again - this time to house Cherryville Junior High. A new East Elementary School Building housed the Elementary No. 1 students and faculty.
With the financial assistance of Ben Kendrick and C. A. Rudisill, the first band was organized in 1939. The first band leader was Russell Dellinger, who was followed by Sinclair Allen, Mr. Fox, Erskine W. Carson, Dale Grabill, Ravon Smith, Bill Sneed, and at present, Michael Rogers.
Superintendent Hunter Huss accepted the position of Superintendent of Gaston County Schools in 1937, clearing way for Galen J. Bennett as principal. Bennett restored the home economics department and created a commercial department. During his tenure, the local NCEA and NEA were organized and enjoyed 100 percent membership. In 1941, Foster W. Starnes of Morganton Schools was elected to the Superintendent's post. He served from 1941-1949.
Coming of Age
Significant curriculum changes advanced Cherryville High School into the 1940's. A 12th grade was added, which moved 8th grade to the elementary program, and the ninth grade became the first year of the high school program. And by 1943 the nine-month school year was incepted, increasing school days from 160 to 180.
The next 20 years brought vast structural improvements in the school. Superintendent Starnes was at the forefront of this improvement. He devoted much effort to the erection of a high school auditorium which was completed in 1949 with an impressive $125,000 price tag. In that same year, a vocational wing was added to accommodate home economics, agricultural and shop classes. The addition cost the school $50,000.
1947 marked the first graduating class having completed 12 years of school. The class of 1949 was the last class to graduate in the auditorium located in the old high school building. The class of 1950 was the first class to have commencement exercises in the new Starnes auditorium.
The early 1950's bolstered the Cherryville tradition of community involvement in and support of the school. It met requirements to become a member of the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools in 1951. The Cherryville Woman's Club made a liberal donation towards the equipment for the library. In 1952 a Parent-Teacher Association formed.
Then in 1952 new rooms were added to the school to provide space for the commercial department. The Joe R. Nixon Physical Education Building was erected in March of 1958. Although the high school building it accompanied has been demolished the Nixon Gymnasium is still in use by the current school.
In February of 1961 the high school cafeteria was completed. The Instrumental Music Building saw completion the same year.
Largely a community effort, the Rudisill Memorial Stadium was dedicated September 6, 1963. The cost of the stadium was $78,000. The Rudisill Foundation, created by Carl A. Rudisill, long time benefactor of Cherryville Schools gave a gift of funds to build a new football stadium. This was matched by the citizens in a short period of time. The stadium was named the Rudisill Memorial Stadium in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Carl Rudisill and Mr. and Mrs. Ben Rudisill.
William H. Brown was superintendent during this time. During his administration, a fifteen cent tax increase was achieved to support Cherryville Schools.
Sign of the Times
In 1966 the John Chavis School was integrated with the Cherryville High School. Cherryville High School was the first school in Gaston County to fully integrate grades 10 through 12.
Harvey Patterson was the first black student who entered Cherryville High School in 1969. In 1965, he graduated as salutatorian.
More construction came in 1957, when an outdoor student commons area was created. A vocational department for bricklaying and shop was added to the basement of the Joe R. Nixon Physical Education Building.
There were other changes in the late 1960's too. Cherryville High absolved its separate identity and became part of the Gaston County Consolidated School System in 1968. Cherryville had maintained its own school system, "Cherryville City Schools, " since 1936. Jasper Lewis served as the last superintendent of that system.
The 1960's proved catalyst for continued improvements. Principals who have perpetuated that movement in the last 30 years have been Sherrill Cranford, 1960-61; L. Berge Beam, 1962-65; C. R. Williams, 1966-68; 1. B. Goforth, 1969-73; Ed Carter 1973-75; Gary Henry, 1975-77; Robert Hager, 1977-78; Hiram Baucom, 1979-1981; Judith F. Houser, the first principal of the combined Cherryville Junior-Senior High, 1982-1987; and currently, Gary W. Evans, who began his term as principal in 1988.
A Competitive Edge
Cherryville High School's sports program receives marks as high as its academics. Since 1930 senior high teams have garnered seven state titles. Junior High teams have posted 13 conference and division crowns since 1965.
Since 1930, senior squads have won 73 percent of their baseball games and have claimed only four losing seasons. That 72 percent winning margin would most likely be enhanced had not all the records prior to 1930 been destroyed by fire.
Joe R. Nixon, after near misses in 1915 and 1916, guided Cherryville to its first North Carolina title in 1917 in baseball.
Coaches who maintained Cherryville's sports achievements were Jack Kiser, Hinse Quinn, Ovie Heavner, and Henry Jones. Jones is currently ranked 11th among active N.C. baseball coaches with 274 wins in 18 seasons. His mark includes five conference and two state crowns, one in 1980 and another in 1982. Bobby Dale Reynolds has been assisting Henry Jones since 1985.
Kiser, who handled three conference champions in 1937, 1938 and 1939, coached the 1934 football squad to the school's one and only conference title. That team finished 7-0-3 and gave local athletic teams their nickname, "Ironmen". The team only had twelve players, and no substitutes. Cherryville defeated Morganton 6 to 12 to win the Western Conference. Ironmen name continues today for high school teams.
Kiser's 1934-35 basketball team also captured the conference championship. Bill Hinson guided the Ironmen to the Southwest 3-A Conference titles in 1969, and after a near-miss in 1984, the 1985 basketball Ironmen, coached by David Watkins, captured the state championship with a 28-1 record.
Numerous Cherryville athletes have gone through collegiate careers. This spring and summer nine CHS graduates will be coaching baseball in the Carolinas.
Lester Jenkins guided the CHS golf team to the Western 1-A, 2-A championship in 1982. The local duffers won that title at Tryon and advanced to the state finals in Chapel Hill.
The Lady Ironmen, coached by Dean "Doc" Thompson copped the SD-7 softball title in 1978.
Cherryville Junior High baseball teams have suffered only one losing season since 1965. Coach Don Alexander guided the teams to 231 wins, 13 conference and division wins.
The same gymnasium where sports records were broken, Nixon Gymnasium, still serves the physical education and athletic departments of the school. Located between Rudisill Stadium and Cherryville Memorial Baseball Field, the s tadium completes one of the area's top athletic complexes.
Cherryviile High School has procurred graduates who have established professional careers as educators, ministers, doctors, dentists, lawyers, pharmacists, accountants, and government representatives at all levels. Others have distinguished themselves in various sectors of sports, the military, and business.
Hunter Huss, a 1919 graduate, Willard Bess a 1933 graduate have been honored by having schools named for them in Gaston County, the Hunter Huss High School and The Willard Bess Elementary School in Gastonia.
Vera Black Hoyle, a 1929 graduate of Cherryville High School, and later faculty member, taught English for 43 years. Upon her retirement in 1976, she was honored by the school and the community for her long years of service and dedication to the young people of Cherryville. Mrs. Hoyle, who lives in her historic ancestral home, reflected on her teaching career. "Those forty four years were the happiest years of my life. I loved each day and the boys and girls I taught."
Max Crowder, a 1947 graduate, has worked with the Duke University basketball staff for 30 years. He worked 899 basketball games as trainer until surgery last spring. This year he will be inducted into the Duke University Hall of Fame.
A 1958 graduate, Guy Eaker, is considered one of the top bass fishermen in the nation, currently ranking 7th among the top 100 fishermen in the United States.
Bringing it All Together
In 1982, Cherryville senior and Junior Highs merged to form Cherryville Junior-Senior High School.
The high school was added to the already existing junior high building on Ridge Avenue. To complement the existing architecture, the high school was constructed in the same circular fashion as the junior high building, giving the whole school a look of a reel-to-reel projector sprawled across 15.3 acres.
Administration considers the
school one unit, although programs such as sports, student councils and
bands, remain separate.
The school is composed of more than 700 students with a 50member staff. No class, with the exception of band, exceeds 31 students.
The school is also staffed by a principal, Gary Evans; an assistant principal, Eric Crosby; two guidance counselors, a vocational counselor, two secretaries, a specialist, and two full time teachers for the exceptional children.
The school offers 102 courses with an ample offering in vocational programming for those students who plan to enter the work field immediately upon graduation. Courses geared primarily toward the college-bound and advanced placement student are available, too.
According to statistics compiled in the 1990-1991 school year, the dropout rate bottomed out at 1.33 percent.
A Stable Student Body
A recent school survey indicated a vital but stable student population attends Cherryville Senior High.
Eight-grade and eleventh-grade students completed the survey questionnaires, after faculty determined that these classes - the two largest in the school - would represent a cross-section of the students.
Sixty-three percent of the students have been in the Cherryville schools all of their lives, and have never moved from the area. Thirty-seven percent have attended other schools.
While the national divorce rate continues to climb, the survey indicated that 65 percent of students still live with both parents. Four percent live in homes where the father or mother is deceased. Other students live with one parent and/or a stepparent.
The highest per capita income of Gaston County is earned in Cherryville. The survey showed that 58 percent of students' families earned income in the $30,000 to $50,000 bracket.
Eighty-seven percent of homes receive magazines, and 66 percent subscribe to newspapers. Ninety-seven percent have reference books or encyclopedias available in the home.
Fifty-six percent of the parents have graduated from high school; 24 percent have education past high school and 11 percent of the parents have education levels below high school.
Eighty-two percent of the current senior class plan to further their education beyond high school.
students make up only five percent of the student body, but there is an
intermingling and good rapport between the black and white populations.
Black students are active in all activities and are involved in
academics, music and sports.
Outside the school walls, students participate in scouting, church and civic organizations. A large percentage of high school students hold full-or part-time jobs. Many of these work positions are a result of the school's strong vocational program.
Cherryville Junior-Senior continues to expand as an educational resource for its students and the community.
The School Improvement Team was developed as an outgrowth of the state's Senate Bill II. As instructed by the State Department of Public Instruction and Gaston County Board of Education, Cherryville Junior-Senior High School moved more toward cite-based management when seven people were elected to represent the faculty of this school in creating the School Improvement Plan and assisting the principal in decision and policy-making. The first School Improvement Team was elected in the spring of 1991 to serve for the following school year. Mrs. Janie Peak is chairperson.
the school will implement a data management system that will bring the
convenience of reference tools to each classroom at the
fingertips of the instructor. Teachers have already begun training for
the program. The entire program is
In Gaston County Schools latest report card showing how students scored on the standardized tests, Cherryville Jr.-Sr. High School students for the year 1990-1991 were first in SAT scores in the county. For the past several years they have placed second. The students placed first in reading competency 97.4 and in math competency 96.52. Also placing well above state standard of 50 percent, Algebra II was 61.6, ranking first in the county; biology, chemistry, English I, N.C. history and science placed, above the state 50 percentile in scores. The total battery of the California Achievement test was 64 percent. The school has had an excellent record of school attendance, winning the empty seat award in Gaston County. The dropout rate is one of the lowest in the county 1.33 percent. The schools Quiz bowl teams annually finish high. Students are accepted in major universities and colleges of their choice upon high school graduation. A large percentage of these graduate with honors, and many are successful in their chosen careers.
The community has a large number of individuals and organizations that are civic minded and provide a network of support to the programs of our schools. Civic organizations, individuals, churches, and businesses offer college scholarships, medals and awards at commencement time.
Three community organizations' sole object is to support the school, the Ironmen Boosters Club, the Band Boosters Club, and the Legislative council. The latter is composed of the school principals, teachers, parents, and students.
The Cherryville Memorial Stadium, the Rudisill Stadium, and the complete restoration of Starnes Auditorium indicate the voluntary contributions of this community. These gifts are exemplary of the manner and spirit in which the community supports the school, and the tremendous amount of community pride in Cherryville Jr-Sr. High School.
During the past 100 years the school has been fortunate have had dedicated school board members, administrators, teachers to guide the education of the youth of the community. D. R. Mauney, Jr., class of 1932, has served more terms on Cherryville City School Board than any other citizen, 18 years. He later served on the consolidated board. Mr. Mauney is a grandson of Mr. S. S. Mauney, the first teacher in 1881. Mr. Mauney's wife, Mary Frances served as High School Guidance Counselor from 1965 to 1977. Mr. Mauney also served in the state legislature and on the Gaston College Board of Trustees for 24 years. With his leadership, he achieved his goal of providing our schools with good administrators and teachers, with the best education for the boys and girls of Cherryville.
A history of Cherryville High School would be incomplete without mentioning the story of consolidation. The citizens voted 9 to 1 against consolidating the school with Gaston County. This was exemplary of the thinking of the citizens who believed in local control of their schools. The elected representative on the Gaston County School board was Howell Stroup, class of 1936, who led the struggle to keep the high school in Cherryville. He had also served on the Cherryville School board prior to his election to the Consolidated board. His father, the late Attorney Matthew Stroup was chairman of the Gaston County School Board for 30 years. Mr. Ronnie Hovis is the present representative on the school board.
The Cherryville schools have grown
remarkably since the days of the academy, the first school in 1881. The