"Inside the City School Houses" - A Glance of Science Hill High School in 1928
Today's column is the first of several newspaper articles dated 1928 bearing the title, "Inside the City School Houses." Several schools achieved a high score while others did not; in some cases, comments were a bit blunt. The first one is Senior High School (a.k.a Science Hill High School).
Youthful feet of countless forgotten students over the years underwent a weekday cardiovascular workout by traveling up 88 steps from N. Roan Street to Senior High School.
Science Hill High School from the Early 1920s. Note Absence of the Daniel Boone Marker
The fathers who built the original Science Hill edifice gave little thought to fire prevention construction, except for the fact that they wisely fashioned it of brick. With advancing age, the building regularly caught fire, but for the most part, inflicted little damage.
One humorous account recalled by students of that era was when a cloud of smoke became visible over the building prompting a fire drill. One eager youngster ran noisily along the street waving his hat and shouting a paean of triumph, but alas for his high hopes and expectations, dismay prevailed when the blaze was swiftly extinguished.
Architects declared that no longer would schools have cloak rooms, which were used by students and faculty. Nothing in the cloak rooms was locked prompting an occasional pilfering. Instead, the hallways would acquire attractive steel lockers with locks. The problem was that the required number of lockers exceeded the available hallway space.
Of a positive note, of all the schools in the public school system, Science Hill had more teachers endowed with PhD degrees than any other school. The faculty was obviously proud of this fact.
Also, the Senior High principal receiving a student sent from any classroom for a personal and somewhat painful interview was often forced to leave patrons in her tiny office to go into this same hallway to confer with someone else whose business with her was of a private or personal nature.
So overcrowded was the school that they acquired something that was distinctly unique; they possessed the one and only "floating teacher" is town. This individual could be found wondering about the building searching for a temporarily vacated classroom wherein she may hold her classes.
In some of the other buildings of the school class system, classes were held on stairwell landings or vacant or partially utilized rooms. The outside atmosphere was generally deemed too severe for her to use in the any of the numerous flights of steps ascending the Hill. A major concern was that this lack of classroom space would deprive the school of its most coveted honor, being a member of the Southern Association of Accredited Schools.
Inspectors from the Association inspected the facility that year and complimented them and its administrator most generously. However, when the school received a letter of findings from the Association, it firmly stated that unless provision was immediately made for housing the library and science departments, Johnson City High School would be summarily dropped from Association membership.
That same year, Senior High lost its Manual Training Department, requiring students to trudge up Roan Street to Junior High for work and instruction, which translated into wasted time. To make matters even worse, the high school did not even own the property on which it stood. Legal opinion was that the situation could result in a law suit, dragging resolution of the property title into court for a lengthy amount of time.
Perplexed and harassed citizens were urged to devote serious attention to the problems of Science Hill because 75 to 80 additional students were expected at the high school the next new school year. The problems would be fixed within four years when several new schools were built, and improvements were made to others.