Rock Hill schools celebrate 125 years of public education

rsouthmayd@heraldonline.comNovember 19, 2013 

  • Rock Hill schools history

    1888: Rock Hill Graded School opens with 124 students in grades 1-10. Teachers are paid $25 a month.

    1891: First commencement exercises are held. Eight students graduate.

    1910: York County is home to 43 school districts. Rock Hill is known as York 12 and is three miles wide.

    1914: Rock Hill High school opens on East White Street, between Spruce and Gladstone streets, with the proceeds from a $75,000 bond referendum.

    1916: All black students are allowed to attend school for free through fifth grade.

    1920: Emmett Scott School opens, serving black students through tenth grade. There were 11 members of the first graduating class of 1923.

    1932: Superintendent R.C. Burts reports the student population at 4,721.

    1943: Catawba Indians are allowed to attend white schools.

    1953: District consolidation makes just four districts in York County, as it is today, and Rock Hill becomes York 3.

    1954: Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kan., Supreme Court case makes it illegal for states to keep separate schools for white and black students.

    1965: The district’s longest-serving superintendent, Walter Caswell Sullivan, leaves his position after almost 30 years. Sullivan Middle School is named for him.

    1970: Schools are fully integrated, more than 15 years after Brown v. Board.

    1981: District sells the District Stadium, built in 1941, to the city. The district bought it back three years later.

    2009: A financial crisis hits the district. For the first time ever, district employees are furloughed.

    2012: Rock Hill schools prepare to fully launch iRock, putting an iPad in the hands of thousands of students across the district.

    2013: Rock Hill school district celebrates 125 years of public education in Rock Hill. The district has more than 30 schools and programs across the city and serves more than 17,000 students.

The Rock Hill school district will mark 125 years of public education in the city with a day of celebration on Wednesday.

Across the district, each employee and student will get to celebrate the quasquicentennial with a slice of birthday cake. There also will be a celebratory balloon launch in front of each school at 2 p.m.

The district chose this week to mark the occasion because it’s International Education Week, said district spokeswoman Elaine Baker. The last time the district had a celebration like this was 25 years ago, when Rock Hill schools marked 100 years.

“The school system is something we all can remember and attach our personal lives to it,” Baker said. “We’ve all been to school.”

The celebratory activities should appeal to even the youngest Rock Hill students, she said.

“They will comprehend birthday cake,” Baker said of children who probably can’t understand just how long 125 years is. “They will understand that somebody or something is celebrating a birthday, and that’s always good.”

Wednesday evening, there will be a celebration at the Flexible Learning Center, where people who were instrumental in the history of the district will gather. On the walls of that building is a painted timeline of the district’s history, first created by longtime district employee Harriet Bucy and continued after her death by Independence Elementary art teacher Jimmie Matthews.

It features paintings, historical photographs, articles and explanations of major events.

Rachel Southmayd •  803-329-4072

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