Junior High School Became Two Distinct Schools on March 12, 1961
The welcomed announcement came from C. Howard McCorkle, superintendent of schools and directed to several hundred parents at a special meeting the previous night. The two schools were to be independent of the other, plus have separate athletic programs that would be in competition with one another.
Speaking before the Junior High Parent-Teacher Association, Supt. McCorkle expressed his hope that all ninth grade students from both schools would eventually be part of the big new $2.5 million Science Hill High School just completed.
However, by the following fall, it would be necessary to operate two junior highs, North Junior High and South Junior High, as the names they would soon acquire. The boundary line was defined as the Southern Railway and Market Street. Those on the north and east sides would attend North Junior High while those on the other side would go to South Junior High. Exception was made for any eighth and ninth grade boys studying industrial arts because South Junior High would not provide this training.
"Otherwise, South Junior High would offer as complete a program as the present North Junior High, "This program of dividing what was a student body of more than 100 students in the present Junior high was being significantly relieved by the restructuring. It had been so overcrowded that there was insufficient room to work, not to mention inadequate space to allow for growth," McCorkle commented.
One stipulation was added - When the city much later found it feasible to abandon the present North Junior High building, it was to be "turned back to the city" for whatever use it could provide. That became a reality in 1974.
When a parent questioned the condition of the old Science Hill High School, without hesitation the superintendent described the facility as being one of the soundest buildings in town from a structural point of view. However, the superintendent properly noted one defect in the old high school that was not in the main building but in the gymnasium behind the school. It had been built on shale and had moved slightly. However, he stated that the problem was already in the process of being remedied.
South Junior High would have a complete music department, their own library, a home economics department and other pluses. Much of this was left over from the high school and was perfect for South Junior High School's needs.
Mr. McCorkle further promised that the new school would have its own sports programs, such that its teams would be in competition with those from the existing Junior High School. The present one would then have around 700 students and 600 more would be attending classes in the new school. A big plus for the change was that teachers would go with the students, which meant there was no need for an increased teaching staff.
However, beyond having selected Paul Slonaker to head South Junior High, he indicated that other personnel had not been assigned to a specific building. Mr. Slonaker, at the time, headed the industrial arts program at Science Hill. McCorkle promised all teachers that they would keep their own home room, meaning there would be no more "floating teachers," which came as welcomed news.
The North Junior High guidance program continued under the direction of Jack McCorkle, who would divide his time between the two junior high schools.
McCorkle assured his well-attended audience that besides providing better overall benefits to students, the program was at once be aimed at providing more benefits for less money. PTA meetings would continue to be held in the massive Junior High auditorium with Mrs. Carl A. Jones presiding.