CCHS – the journey to #100

Posted May 18, 2017 at 11:08 am

When the candidates for CCHS graduation receive their diplomas on Friday night, May 19, the 2017 class will be reaching a couple of milestones in Clinton County High School history. For one, this class will mark 100 years, or one full century, of commencement programs at CCHS and ironically, will also be the largest graduating class in school history with some 130 seniors.

In congratulating the 2017 CCHS class, and acknowledging the history being made, Clinton County Schools Superintendent Charlotte Nasief supplied the Clinton County News with a written history of the old high school, some of which is published later in this article.

Although the current class and many before are still too young to remember, the history of Clinton County High School and graduation classes go back to two prior buildings, and one–which is referred to as the “old high school” being the one with the most years of high school being taught at that location. That construction was finalized in 1923.

A lot of history has been made at the current high school as well, and has seen some 45 prior graduation classes since the first year of opening as a high school in 1972.

For some 46 years prior, however, graduation ceremonies were held at the old high school facility which was located behind where Burger King and First and Farmers Bank branch are currently located.

The first school that existed was located on “College Hill” and saw only seven students enrolled at the high school. Due to a two-year discontinuance between 1911-13, seniors did not actually receive diplomas until 1917.

To commemorate the “old high school” as it is often referred to by older residents and graduates, a “History of Old High School Building” was written by former Clinton County High School teacher and Clinton County School System administrator Clayton Brown in 1986.

To further commemorate the 100th Commencement program at Clinton County High School, following are some excerpts from that writing of the old high school:

“On September 12, 1985 Superintendent James Earl Carver recommended to the Clinton County Board of Education that bids be taken for the tearing down of the old Clinton County High School building. Since the building was in a dangerous state of repair and had not been used for classroom activities since 1971, the recommendation was accepted by the board by unanimous decision. Later, on December 2, 1985, the bid, which amounted to $9,947 would be awarded to Glynn Mann for the demolition and removal of a building that had held numerous memories, both pleasant and unpleasant, for many Clintonians.”

Following are some excerpts from the condensed history of the school as pinned by Brown.

“ The Kentucky legislature passed a law in 1908 that required each of the counties in Kentucky to have or to establish a high school within the county. Since Clinton County was small in comparison and would have very few students, there was much discussion about the decision that had been rendered. None the less, in 1910, on College Hill, just up from Hancock Mill southwest of Albany, the school was started. P.H. Hopkins was the principal and there was an enrollment of seven students. Because of a discontinuance of two years of school during 1911-13, the first graduation class would not receive diplomas until 1917. This (senior) class consisted of two people, John Peary Sloan and Mary Shelley. (Although not the same person, Mary Shelley is the name of current superintendent Nasief’s mother.)

The school that existed on College Hill proved to be unacceptable for the people of Clinton County and a movement was initiated to build a new building nearer to town. The building that is now being torn down (old high school) is the building that was constructed from 1921-23.”

The grounds on which the old high school building was erected and the campus surrounding it was bought from W.A. Dicken and his wife, Mabel, and Plato Hancock and his wife, Willie, for a total of $1,579.84. The board of education at that time included Ermon Sloan, W. A. Pierce, J. R. ork, L. A. York, and J. E. Ferguson.

“When it came time to actually construct the building, J.B. Powell of Stanford, Kentucky, was hired by the board of education to draw up the plans for the building and to supervise the workers. Powell brought two brick layers from Stanford to lay the brick.

The old high school building served Clinton County for 50 years. In 1971, the last classes were held. During these fifty years, there were thirteen different principals. They included: P.H. Hopkins, Miss Cabinis, C.E. Smith, Mr. Barton, Ad Tarter, William Watkins, Feaster Wolford, E.H. Ashbrook, Forest Hawkins, L.H. Robinson, Audrey Maupin, Nola Talbott, Frank Abston and Perry Hay. There were twelve different superintendents. They were: Abe Beck, George Booher, Thomas Guthrie, Bob Lollar, Dr. John Fielding Stailey, Lewis Piercey, Mrs. Ermon Sloan (Mrs. R.G. Koger), J.O. Cole, Leander York, R.C. Reneau, and Robert Polston.

“There have been approximately 2,251 students graduated from Clinton County High School from the old building during its existence.”

The history gave a somewhat estimated list of graduates per year, with the smallest being in 1918 with only one graduate. In the first five-year graduation history, a total of 15 graduated and only 24 through the first seven years, before the numbers finally increased slowly over the years, beginning in 1925 when 15 students graduated.

The highest number of graduates in any one year, both at the old high school and up to the current 2017 class, was in 1967 when 129 students — one short of the number graduating this year — received diplomas.

In his history, Brown shared some interesting “old school” humor and facts, including the following.

* The schools of early times had all bathrooms or toilets on the outside. Passage to the toilet was cleared by a sign that indicated “In” or “Out.” Often times these small buildings were used for reasons not directly related to their original intention, such as poker games.

* Mrs. Eula Norris shared the fact that they originally heated with large “pot bellied” stoves, one to each room. It was several years after the building was completed that a coal furnace was installed which generated the steam heat.

* In the olden days, you either brought your lunch, did without, went home, or “borrowed” from someone else. Mr. Eugene Mackey related that when lunches were brought, they were placed in the hall windows at the old school building. Now doing this provided a prime opportunity for someone to permanently “borrow” another’s lunch.

* Mrs. Bessie Kennedy, a retired school teacher of the Clinton County system, talked about how the girls were allowed to use a designated set of steps and the boys another. Kennedy added that the girls and boys each had their own respective closets. So, not only were you expected to be in the proper stairs, you must not wander into the wrong closet.

* The concrete walk that led from the World War Veterans Memorial* just off Highway 127 was made by the Clinton County Parent-Teacher Association. Some of the shade trees that were on campus were set out by relatives of the Clinton County World War Veterans. The large steel flag pole and its first flag were donated by the American Legion. *(This same memorial now stands in front of Clinton County High School.)

“It wasn’t until 1936 that a basement was excavated for the purpose of building a gymnasium for Clinton County. The building of a gym this size must have been an enormous looking thing because the basement was referred to as the “million dollar hole.” It has been reported that Mr. Hunt Mackey, local taxi driver at the time, said that there would never be enough people at a ballgame in Clinton County to near fill the gym.

“But as time and the local residents of Clinton County would have it, the gymnasium was built. The gym was approved and built by the W.P.A. Oliver Tuggle, a local contractor at the time, was placed in charge of the project and it was completed in the spring of 1939.

“In the years previously mentioned, there were many students that passed through the system. Each individual who was connected to the school in any way have their own private memories that they cherish. Through the doors of the old building (and now current high school) walked the future doctors, lawyers, teachers, preachers, and numerous other vocations, too many to mention, that were enhanced because of the exposure of the teachings within the confines of the old (and current) high school buildings.”

Brown concluded in his condensed history, “There were so many more amusing stories related and so many more facts not listed here that time will soon bring to an end the source if they aren’t recorded.”

Even though the “old high school” has been long gone, since 1972 to this current year, Clinton County High School and the students who pass through the doors will become a part of the ever continuing history and graduate ceremonies at Clinton County High School.