North Carolina State Representative Michael Wray Wednesday introduced a resolution honoring the 100th anniversary of Roanoke Rapids High School from the house floor.
Roanoke Rapids Graded School District Interim Superintendent Julie Thompson, Felicia Booker, executive director of CTE, accountability, and testing, RRHS Administrative Assistant Cindy Boone, and RRHS alumnus Cameron Wells, who also serves as an intern for Wray, were in Raleigh for the reading.
The resolution gives a history of the city and the school system, stating that 10 years after the 1897 incorporation of the city it still had no established school system.
On February 26 of 1907, a special school district charter was prepared, introduced into the North Carolina General Assembly, read three times, and ratified.
On May 11 of 1907 the first election was held in the new school district. The ballot and the choice were simple: For Schools or Against Schools. “The voters spoke clearly with 89 percent voting ‘For Schools,’” the resolution says.
By 1915, Roanoke Rapids had three schools to educate all grades, but crowded conditions in the fast-growing Roanoke Rapids necessitated the construction of a junior-senior high school building.
“At the request of the school board, the General Assembly authorized bond elections in 1917, 1919, and 1920 to raise over $500,000 for the expansion of the school facilities in Roanoke Rapids, including the junior-senior high school with voters overwhelmingly approving each bond issue.”
The board of school trustees appointed a committee of five to secure a site and plans for the building. In June of 1919, the board purchased 16 lots on Hamilton and Washington streets, including land on both sides of Eighth Street.
The committee hired a prominent New York architect, Hobart B. Upjohn, who presented plans for the new junior-senior high school to the board in January of 1920.
“ … The Roanoke Rapids High School building was central to Samuel Patterson's vision of Roanoke Rapids as a model ‘New South’ town. It was a true article of faith, a symbolic offering to the power of education and the future of this small community.”
The resolution says the community pledged its support to education and the new high school at the ground-breaking ceremony on March 15, 1920.
Upjohn's design for the building was a modern adaptation of the Elizabethan Gothic or Tudor Revival style, a reference to the great universities at Oxford and Cambridge.
The plans called for a three-story junior-senior high school containing 24 classrooms, including a manual training room, domestic science facilities, a chemistry and biology laboratory, and a music room.
The huge auditorium would seat 2,000 patrons. The basement area below the auditorium would feature a gymnasium with track area, swimming pool, and showers.
“People traveled from great distances to view the majestic sight of this stately and impressive ‘castle’ costing a half-million dollars being built in the middle of a field on a dirt road in a small community of 3,500 people.”
The high school opened on September 19, 1921, with 58 teachers and 1,457 students. “It stood out as one of the largest, costliest, and best designed schools in North Carolina and ...
citizens embraced the new facility as a monumental testimony to their commitment to education. The new school was expected to be the center of community life.”
Today, the resolution says, “ … The senior high building continues to serve as an active school, and it remains unchallenged as the architectural centerpiece of the town. In 1988, the senior high building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and recently a North Carolina preservation expert called it ‘the best high school building in the State.’”
“ … The senior high building is part of Sam Patterson's legacy, but so too is Roanoke Rapids High School's tradition of educational excellence. The history of the school and the school district are a tribute to the progressive leadership begun by Patterson and sustained by countless others.”
As envisioned, the Roanoke Rapids High School “has continued to serve as a centerpiece of the city, a historic landmark for both our community and state, and a place to house students and classes. Upjohn perfectly brought to life Industrialist Samuel Patterson’s vision for the school to be the ‘symbolism of power of education.’ This historic school has seen a century of memories and continues to produce graduates who embody Patterson’s dream of the power of education.”
The resolution closes by saying, “ … As the community celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Roanoke Rapids High School, its pride for the school remains as strong now as it did one-hundred years ago … Therefore, it is fitting to observe the 100th anniversary of Roanoke Rapids High School, the oldest high school building still in use in North Carolina, and to commend the citizens of Roanoke Rapids for their contributions in preserving this historic building.”
8 p.m. — Annual RRHS Homecoming Powder Puff Football Game at Hoyle Field
3:30 p.m. — Homecoming Parade down Hamilton Street
4 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. — RRHS Sports Club Tailgate Party at Girl Scout Hut. Boston Butts were pre-sold and plates will be available prior to the game.
6 p.m. — Pre-game festivities begin
6:05 p.m. — Introduction of former homecoming queens and JROTC presentation of colors accompanied by Captain Bill Robinson and other guests from Fort Bragg.
6:30 p.m. — Homecoming football game kick-off at Hoyle Field
Halftime — Homecoming 2021
9 p.m. — Fireworks from Patterson property. The school system recommends viewing from the RRHS softball field.
9:30 p.m. — Students only annual homecoming dance
10 a.m. — Community Centennial Parade down Hamilton Street
10:30 a.m. — RRHS Cornerstone Time Capsule Opening and Rededication Ceremony on the front lawn of RRHS.
Noon — Vendor Fair and lunch on the grounds
Robinson will hold a book signing in the Media Center. An RRHS alumni, Robinson is the longest-held POW in United States history.
RRHS clubs and other community organizations will have booths/tents in the courtyard selling memorabilia and souvenirs. There will be lunch from food trucks and Second Street Lunch and DIRT along with the student council will be selling drinks
12:30 p.m. — School tours of RRHS begins (masks required)
2 p.m. — Alumni Band performance in RRHS Auditorium (masks required)
4 p.m. — Alumni Chorus performance in RRHS Auditorium (masks required)
7 p.m. to 11 p.m. — Centennial Gala and All Class Reunion at Kirkwood Adams. (Tickets must be purchased in advance via EventBrite. Attire is dress casual.)