A Brief History of the Cherryville School System
This, particularly the first part of it, was taken from a "History of
the Cherryville Graded Schools" which had been published in The Eagle
in 1933. The article then published had been written by Rev. C. A.
Prior to the incorporation of Cherryville in 1881, the little village lay within the school district of what was known as the Morrison School. The first building stood a short distance east of the Gaston Mill. Later a building was erected east of the location of the Rhyne-Houser Mill.
In the same year in which the incorporation was affected, Cherryville was made a separate school district at the instigation of Rev. M.L. Little, then County Superintendent. The first school was taught in Mr. Summitt's old "corn house" or granary; this was situated near the present intersection of Main Street and Mill Avenue. The first teacher in Cherryville School District was Mr. S.S. Mauney, the term was four months and the salary was twenty-five dollars a month.
Other teachers during the succeeding decade with approximate dates were: 1882-83, Mr. J.M. Roberts: 1883-88, Mr. L.H.J. Houser; 1888-89, Mr. James C. Elliot; 1889-90, Mr. Royster; 1880-91, Mr. Hicks; 1891-92, Mr. Lee Beam.
During the decade schools were conducted from year to year at such places as were most available. Among the places chosen were the building above referred to near what is now the Rhyne Houser Mill, Mr. Summitt's old corn house, the Northern Methodist Church and one had two vacant store buildings.
During this time, Mr. L.H.J. Houser was able to continue school for eight months a year by charging tuition for four months. Along with the building of the first cotton mill, which began operation in 1892, there came to Cherryville an increased population which demanded more adequate school facilities. The building know as the Academy was erected. It was a rectangular, two story frame building with one room on each floor and a tower in front in which was the main entrance to the first floor and a stairway on the right to the second floor. The tower was surmounted with belfry and steeple. The building faced the east and was situated almost in the middle of what is now the asphalt street by the Elementary School building. Subsequently, a two story addition was built on the rear towards the south. This was followed about two years later as the town grew with two story additions of the same type on the north.
Still later, two one story rooms were added to the rear. The southern and northern additions had porches on the first and second floors on the front with stairways leading to the second floor. This building was used until, in 1915, the first brick school was erected.
The principals of the Academy school were: 1892 Mr. J.J. George;; 1899-1900, Capt. W.R.T. Bell; 1900-01, Mr. Woodard;; 1901- 03, Mr. J.Y. Erwin; 1903-08, Mr. S.P. Wilson; 1908-11, Mr. J.W. Strassell; 1911-13, Mr. H.S. Mosbey; 1913-1915 (through the change to the new brick building) Mr. Joe R. Nixon.
Until 1903 there was no local tax for the support of the schools. The county supplied funds enough to provide instruction through the grammar grades for four months in the year. Provision beyond that, either for extension of term or for instruction in the high school, had to be made locally. As an inducement to bring Capt. W.T.R. Bell to Cherryville, a special subscription was raised to guarantee payment of his salary. These subscriptions for the larger part were made by those who had children in school, and in reality amounted to payment of tuition, except that people paid somewhat according to their means.
During this period there were some private schools conducted in town in addition to the public schools. Those schools generally did very good work.
In 1903 the forward step necessary to the development of an efficient school system was made by the town. A special tax was voted for the maintenance of a graded school, including the high school. The work of grading fell to Mr. S.P. Wilson and his successor, Mr. J.W. Strassell. Since that time the school has grown normally under the state wide plan of Public education.
On June 5, 1915, the town bought from Mr. Joseph Black and his wife Francis, for the sum of $1450.00 a tract of 5 ,72-100th acres on the north aide of First Street between Pink and Depot Avenues, on which they built during the latter part of 1915 a three story brick school building costing approximately $30,000.00. The building constructed of nineteen recitation rooms, an auditorium, offices, music rooms, etc. On the first floor there were seven class rooms, boiler room, and two toilets; on the second, eight rooms and offices and on the top floor, four class rooms and the auditorium.
During the Christmas holidays in December 1919 the inner part of this building was burned. The walls, which were left standing, were used during the following year in the construction of the building in use now. In rebuilding, the present auditorium on the main floor was added, and the space that had been used for an auditorium on the upper floor was used in part for a balcony in the new auditorium. The change in the plan dispensed with two rooms on the main floor and added three on the upper floor and two in the basement. The cost of construction was 36,783.00.
In 1925, on a lot purchased from Mr. T.C. Summers, a new building for housing the first five grades was built. This building is located on the south side of Academy Street west of Elm Avenue on part of the old Academy grounds. It contains an auditorium, boiler room, toilets, two offices and twelve class rooms. It is built of brick and complies with the specification laid down by cost for the lot $3500.00 for the State Board of Education. The building $35,000.00.
In 1929 a modern gymnasium was built and in 1932 the city's unemployed were used in grading, topsoiling and fencing an athletic field back of the Union School building and gymnasium. The athletic field and gym are among the best in Western North Carolina and were built through subscription of the various civic and . social organizations of the town.
When the first brick building was erected in 1915, Mr. J.R. Nixon was Superintendent. He had become Superintendent in 1913 and remained in that position until the spring of 1918. He was succeeded by Mr. J.D. Rankin who served from 1918 to 1921. Mr. A.C. Warlick served from 1921 to 1923. In 1923 Mr. Nixon returned and served from 1923 to June 30, 1931. In 1931 Mr. Hunter Huss succeeded Mr. Nixon.
The Cherryville High School was first made a standard high school in the session of 1908-09 under Mr.. Strassell's administration. Since that time graduates from the school have been admitted to the Freshman Class at the University of North Carolina as well as the other larger colleges and Universities without examination. From time to time the requirements for being placed on the standard list of schools have been raised. The Cherryville High School Department of Education set up new requirements for the first seven grades of the schools. Among these requirements were: libraries, supplementary readers, maps, primary chairs, tables, etc. and all teachers were to have certain preliminary education and training. Among the various advances made in the school from time, the equipment to aid in the work of the first seven grades is the greatest forward step.
Some of the principals and superintendents who have supervised the work of the schools since Mr. Hunter Huss left have been Mr. Gallon J. Bennett, Jr; Mr. D.O. Rudisill, Mr. W. Foster Starnes; Mr. E.W. Carson, Mr. Fenton L. Larson; Mr. W.H. Brown; Mr. Jasper Lewis and Mr. I.B. Goforth., Mr. Bob Hager, Mr. Perry Brown, Mrs. Judy Houser, Mr. Gary Evans, Mr. Lee Dedmon and presently
In 1949-50 the schools built the Starnes Auditorium, a beautiful auditorium which is still in use to this day. In January, 1955 the East Elementary School was completed; A large tract of land had been procured from the late John Steve Stroup. The land and building are located on East Academy Street. In 1961 a new cafeteria was built for the Jr./Sr. High school it was located just west of the Jr. High School beside Pink Street.
The town once again gathered together to fund what was to be a state of the art stadium for a town of our size. Rudisill Stadium was completed in 1963 and has remained the home of the "Ironmen".
The old High School building, which had been first used in 1915-16, was later converted to be used primarily as a Jr.High School in 1936 then in 1967 it was torn down because it had be replaced the previous year by a new and modern Jr. High School. The High School that had the longest life to date was built adjacent to the old high school/ Jr. High School. It was completed for the school year of 1936-37. This building was in use until 1980.
The Cherryville School System was consolidated with the Gaston County Schools in 1968
In 1981 the Gaston County School system expanded the facility of the Jr. High School to include the High School. From 1981 until 1997 both the Junior. and Senior High students have shared the same facility. With the start of the 1997 school year the changes will continue with grades 6-8 going to a newly remodeled John Chavis Middle School and the High School grades 9-12 will occupy the entire present day facility.