Rockvale High School, 1927-1972

ROCKVALE HIGH SCHOOL 1927-1972 was on the same site as the former frame building.

The new brick building was constructed in an “H” shape with an auditorium, an office, and a small library forming the horizontal bar of the “H.” Three classrooms were located in each wing. There were, in addition, three basement rooms.

Friends and patrons in 1929 built a school gymnasium. In the 1930’s, as the enrollment increased, two rooms were added to the rear of the building, one on each wing. Later, two additional basement rooms were dug, one of which was used as the first lunchroom. In 1957, two classrooms, a new library, and a cafeteria were constructed. Later, a science room, a reading room, and new restrooms were added.

Mr. T. S. Givans, 1924-29, was the first principal of the new school. Others have been W. S. Donnell, W. M. Woods, Jr.

A. C. Barrett, James Campbell, Earl Barnes, Henry Nance, John S. Smith, Clifton Nichols, Howell Bush, W. R. Romine, Blue Windrow, John Hicks, John D. Greer, Clint Hanna, William E. Read, 1952-1972. A. T. Jackson, Elam Canton, David Young, and Rick Wise have been principals since 1972.

Vera Covington, a 1930 graduate of ROCKVALE HIGH SCHOOL, was the teacher of longest tenure, 1938-1975. Other teachers of long tenure have been Kathleen Harris, Mrs. J. J. Holland, Ruth Smotherman Ralston, Mrs. John Powel, Mrs. Jesse Smotherman, Mrs. W. E. Elmore, Mary Garrett, Mrs. Matt Drake, A. T. Jackson, Clifton Tucker, Mrs. Clifton Tucker, Mrs. James Williams, Mrs. Joe Troop, Mrs. George Davis, Annie Ruth Farris, Margaret Scott. Other teachers included Bob Abernathy, Bob Baskin, Thomas Holden, Miles McMillan, Helen Reed, Mrs. Lee Pate, Ronnie Eakes, Francille Whitworth, Ellis Rucker, Mrs. Frances Nance, Amanda Gordon, Mrs. Arnold Hayes, Horace Uselton, Preston Cason, Mrs. J. D. McFarlin, Mrs. R. M. Blair, Billy Snell, Clara Potts, Mrs. Thomas Hopkins, Mrs. Robert Suddarth, Whitson McLean, Red Owens, Gladys Manning Herrod, James Lokey, Pearl Lowe, Elmer Brown, and Bess Pate Williams.

The first four-year graduates in 1928 were Floyd Frazier, Zelma Jackson, Fred Nance, Louise Prater, William Steagall, Alf Taylor, Pearl Woodson, Robert Scott, Allen Miller, and Ada West.

On the opening day in September 1927, the community sponsored a picnic to buy stage curtains. The picnic was so successful that it became an annual event on July 4. Another tradition has been the “chitterling supper” which began in 1942. Also in 1942 a “teacherage” was built across from the school by the school patrons.

William Eris Read developed a highly successful 4-H and Future Farmer program. The boys’ basketball team, “The Rockets,’ went to the state tournament in 1941 under the coaching of Robert “Donkey” Taylor. Clifton Tucker’s girls’ team, “The Rockettes,” went in 1962. In 1933, the school paper The Maple Echo was first published; and in 1941, The Rocket, the school annual.

Recipients of a four-year scholarship, given from 1930-1932 in memory of their mother Ellen Ransom by Will and Ellis Ransom, were Dell Taylor, Billy Todd, and Pearl Lowe.

Hollis Read drove a school bus to ROCKVALE SCHOOL from 1940 to 1985, a period of forty-five years. No other bus driver in the state of Tennessee has ever equaled the record.

Among the alumni have been: Fannie Bell Hendnix Cheek, mother of Mrs. Buford Ellington; Whitney Stegall, state legislator; Thomas Whitworth, class of 1962, a specialist in the area of premature children and identified with “Angel One;” Elam Canton, who served as superintendent of Rutherford County Schools; and Robert Farris, class of 1950, a U. S. Army Colonel.

In 1972, the high school students were sent to the new comprehensive RIVERDALE HIGH SCHOOL and ROCKVALE became a K-8 grade school.

SOURCES: Deed Book 51, P. 562. R. Fred Nance and John W. Nance, camps., The History of Versai11es the Tenth District and Its People Rutherford County Historical Society, 1983. *Gene Sloan, “A Little Nonsense,” The Daily News Journal Accent, March 29, 1977. “Rockvale School Founding ‘Hazy, The Daily News_Journal, Nov. 13, 1963, p. 16. Interviews, Sept. 29, 1982 Herbert Garrett; Feb. 13, 1984, with Hoyt Garrett; May 24, 1984, with Bessie Jackson Buchanan, b. Jan. 24, 1894, who roomed with Effie Arendale. *Vera Covington. *Margaret Scott. *William Ens Read.

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