In March 1961, my fellow Science Hill High School students and I began an orderly transfer to a new spacious modern school building located on John Exum Parkway. With the excitement of moving to the new facility, we hardly glanced back to the top of Roan Hill where students, dating back to 1864, had received an education.
On June 2, we seniors flipped the tassels on our hats and were blissfully added to the learning institute’s long list of graduates. We hold the distinction of having attended the last classes at the old downtown 88-step building and having graduated from the new one. On Nov. 21 that year, SHHS celebrated its first basketball game in the new gym with a “Dedication Game.” According to an event program, the contest pitted the “Hilltoppers” against the visiting Training School’s “Jr. Bucs.”
Special guests included C. Howard McCorkle, School Superintendent; George Greenwell, Principal; Carl Jones, President of the Chamber of Commerce; and Jack Chinouth, President of the Sports Club. City Commissions were invited as well: Mae Ross McDowell, Mayor; Carroll Long, V. Mayor; David Walker; Ben Crumley; Ross Spears, Jr.; David Burkhalter, City Manager; and Carl Johnson. School Board members included E.T. Brading, Chairman; Viola Mathes; Nat T. Sizemore; Richard T, Haemsch, Jr.; William S. Sells; John F. Lawson; John Seward; George Speed; John C. Howren; Forrest K. Morris and Gerald Goode.
The game was preceded with a 15-minute dedication service at 8:00 pm. Rev. Weldon Estes, pastor of Clark Street Baptist Church, offered the dedicatory prayer, followed by the presentation of colors from the ROTC Color Guard consisting of Hartman Gurley, Jack Onks, Kyle Bulla, Martin Crawford and Tommy Thompson.
Warren Weddle, the Hilltoppers’ colorful band director, guided the musicians as they played the National Anthem. John Seward, chairman of the Athletic Council, offered greetings and concluded the service.
It was then time to sit back and enjoy an exciting sporting event. Coach Elvin Little and Assistant Coach Paul Brewster directed the Toppers; Coach Bob Paynter andAssistant Coach Joe Shipley managed the Jr. Bucs. Players on the Topper squad were Bobby Jones, Lonnie Lowe, Carroll Vance, Steve Spurrier, Al Ferguson, Jimmy Evans, Richard Goode, Donny Bates, Tommy Hager, Choo Tipton, Bill Wilson and Ted Roberts. The Buc roster included Nick Owens, Mack Edmisten, Jerry Morris, Joe Pence, Ron Rodgers, Don Shearin, Wilbur Bond, Howell Sherrod, John Wilson, Wayne Miller, Sonny Treadway, Don York and Nick McCurry.
Not to leave out a key ingredient of any basketball game, the home team cheerleaders, consisting of Sheila Bolding, Mary Alice Gordon, Nancy McCorkle, Ann Meredith, Patti Pitts, Kathleen Wiley and Judy Yeiser, kept the crowd lively. The visiting team’s yells were orchestrated by Nancy Gordon, Janice Volrath, Barbara Vaughn, Carole Mullins and Margaret Taylor.
Under the leadership of Commanding Officer Martin Wright, the ROTC Sponsors entertained at halftime with a precision drill maneuver from Barbara Mann, Diane Cross, Sally Muse, Raylene Arwood, Madelyn Langdon, Jane Montgomery, Sheila McDaniel, Jill Hanselman, Claire Thacker, Marcy Edmonds and Ruth Gobel.
According to Larry Reaves, the basketball contest concluded with a 49-33 win for the Toppers. If you participated in the transfer in 1961 from the old to the new “hill,” drop me a note and share your special remembrances.