South Hagerstown High School



Written on the eve of the 50th Anniversary of the opening of South Hagerstown High School in the Fall of 1956


PREFACE: This is a "brief' history of South Hagerstown High School. The purpose is to hit the high points of the past 50 years of the school. I will apologize in advance for any omissions that readers and alumni may feel should be a part of this piece. Except for the recent renovation of the building, the real history of a school is about the people who called that school their own: from the students, faculty, staff, and coaches to the administrators. It is a story of the accomplishments of the individuals, organizations and teams that are all part of the fabric of school life that defines a school and provides lasting memories. Those memories are the real history of a school. From that point of view we offer this brief history of South Hagerstown High School.


In the beginning there was a building. And, oh what a building! In a county where all the high schools had been built in the teens and 20's and the buildings were brick boxes of two stories where the only / variable seemed to be the size of the boxes, along comes a school that is mostly on one floor and mostly glass and steel with some stone and brick thrown in mostly for effect. At a time when heating oil was 7 cents a gallon not much thought was give to energy efficiency so huge single panes of glass were the order of the day. When the school opened in the Fall of 1956 the parking lots were not paved and there were no tennis courts. The gymnasium had its unique and signature round roof line. The track was covered in cinders. There library and six classrooms were situated in "B" Building. To get to "B" Building you had to go outside. You could go by way of a covered walkway called breezeways. In winter they became known as "freeze ways". There were two large shop areas that were also in detached buildings. All the vocational shops and classrooms were situated in those buildings. One unique feature of those buildings was a five bay auto shop
complete with hydraulic lifts.

Two other "special" features of the school were the ramps and the outside courtyard. The ramp in "A Building" seemed to be a signature feature of the school. There was a ramp to "C Building" and a ramp to the gymnasium. For most students who came to this school this was the first time they experienced ramps in a school. The courtyard was a grassy area that had a flagstone patio off the cafeteria and gently sloped up to another patio outside the library. This area was the scene of a variety of school activities and gave a sort of "homey" quality to each lunch time in the cafeteria. In what other school could you look out on a grassy courtyard with a patio?


The school was built on property that had been a working farm that had been donated to the county for the purpose of locating schools and a park. This was a large tract of land that allowed for the design of a building that was spread out and there was plenty ohoom for athletic fields. At the same time that South High was on the drawing board there were plans to build another high school in the city on the other end of town. The location that they found was on a somewhat small tract of land and there were some restrictions regarding outside evening activities because of the close proximity of a home for the elderly. For that reason it was determined that the stadium at South High would have the capacity to seat up to 8,000 people with standing room for many more. The auditorium at South High was designed and built to only seat.800. At the time this was less than half of the student population. Meanwhile, at the other side of town they got only a practice fiE;!ld for football and soccer; but they got an auditorium designed to seat 2,200. The thinking at the time was that all the outside evening sporting events would be played at South High at what became known as "School Stadium" and South High was told that they could use the large auditorium at the school across town for concerts, plays and other indoor performances. For all these 50 years School Stadium has been shared by both schools. Never in all those 50 years has South High ever used the auditorium at the school across town.

While South High still has an auditorium that will seat 750, the school across town will soon have their own outdoor stadium that they can call home and South High will have their own stadium.