Underground 1959 Training School Newspaper Surfaces

John Anderson, a former student at Training School (now called University High), mailed me a copy of The Trumpet, a 1959 underground publication that he and other students produced. Although the short-lived 4-page periodical received a strong endorsement from “The Student Union,” the newspaper caused John and two other students to be expelled from school:

John indicated that they graduated in 1960, which was before the student protest era, but we indeed did lead a protest over the name, Training School. As noted by The Trumpet: “Why are all schools in this area mentioned in ‘High School, USA’ and Training School isn’t? Science Hill and Elizabethton are mentioned in the first verse! If they put our name in the song, people would think that they were singing about a reform school. Support the movement to change the name of Training School.”

The reference to “High School, USA” was a popular song in 1959 with separate versions featuring high schools all over the country. It peaked at #28 on the Billboard chart. The periodical’s style of nearly a half-century ago was low tech with the main front-page title stenciled, subtitles hand printed and the text banged out on a manual typewriter.

The newspaper paid homage to Mr. George Finchum, a tall flattop haircut teacher who was described as being an excellent educator and who understood the problems of teenagers. He was always ready to lend a helping hand to school “inmates.”

The publication then became divisive over news that school officials had cancelled the senior class’s trip to Washington: “Was the collecting of dues for the Washington trip and a few smaller projects fair if the Washington trip was to be taken away? We do not believe so!” The newspaper language became even stronger: “Did the “high and mighty” faculty (and I use that term loosely) have the total authority to forbid this trip? We do not believe so!” Students strongly disagreed with the stated reason for the trip’s cancellation being that a week spent in class would have more educational value.

On a more positive note, Training School trounced Washington College 76 to 43 in its first encounter of the season. The “B” Team won 41 to 21. The Trumpet put in a plug for attendance at area basketball games: “Training School has its first home game tonight, Nov. 13 against Sulphur Springs. Nov. 17, 20 and 24 finds the Jr. Bucs going to Erwin, Loudon and Holston, respectively. The defending District II champs return home again on the 27thplaying Hancock. Most all other schools have already started their season with the exception of Science Hill who is still getting over its football loss to Kingsport.”

The Trumpet repeated a “humorous, although not so factual story” from an earlier school newspaper, “Frosted Freshman” written by Mary Crumley. The training facility was allegedly taken over by students following a protest for their being given so many pop quizzes. Student Lee Smith summarily replaced Mr. John Arrants.

“After we were expelled,” said John, “our dads appealed to President Dossett of ETSC to let us back in school. Our punishment was that we had to go before the entire Training School student body and apologize.” The protesters got their wish in 1963 when ETSC acquired university status and changed the name of the high school to University High School. The ill-fated Trumpet had prevailed.