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  About The School  

School History

GRAHAM HIGH SCHOOL:  A STORIED HISTORY

 

Graham High School, Bluefield, Virginia serves grades nine through twelve and is a part of the Tazewell County School District. The school has a storied history which began on what many refer to as the “Hill of Learning” located on the eventual Greever Avenue in Graham, Virginia.  A school known as Wartburg Lutheran Seminary was established by Joseph B. Greever in 1887, and often  remembered as Greever Academy. The school was sold several times and later renamed Graham College after the Town of Graham which was named in honor of Thomas Graham from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Mr. Graham was a surveyor and engineer for the Norfolk and Western Railway Company and laid out the streets of the new town, Graham.

 

Established as a secondary school, the cornerstone for the first Graham High School building was laid on May 26, 1914 on “The Hill.”  The first principal was J.O. Faulkner, and the finished school had an enrollment of 611 students from the primary grades through high school and could accommodate 750 students. The high school department enrolled 107. According to newspaper accounts of the dedication, the building at the time was the largest building of any kind in the county and was constructed at the then-extravagant cost of $45,000. A new gymnasium was added in 1934. The first Graham Annual or Yearbook called the Graham Cracker was published by the Senior Class of 1940 and reflected the spirit of the school and its anticipated success. 

 

While the Town of Graham was renamed Bluefield in a ceremony with its “sister-city” Bluefield, West Virginia, the school retained its name and adopted the moniker of “Graham Men” or “G-Men.”  The origin of the moniker dates back to ca. 1936 and Bluefield Daily Telegraph reporter Stubby Currence.  He often said in reference to the football team, “just as the FBI ‘G’overnment Men always get their man,” so do the “Graham Men” or “G-Men” get their man.  Athletes were also referred to as “G-Men” when they received a letter in sports. 

 

The original school colors were maroon and orange.  Later the colors for both academics and athletics were changed to maroon and gray.  Along with the school colors came the school Fight Song borrowing its tune from the University of Illinois’s  “Illinois Loyalty” and the Alma Mater which is set to Cornell University’s “Cayuga’s Waters.” A school seal, designed by Elmer J. Burton, Jr., Class of 1953, was adopted in 1952, with the motto, “The future belongs to those prepared for it.”  Thus, a tradition of excellence was reflected.

 

As enrollment increased, the projection was made ca. 1952 that a new facility for grades eight through eleven would be built across the railroad from the ”Hill” school. The “Hill” school was to become Graham intermediate School. However in 1955, rather than building across the railroad, the decision was made to build the new high school in the Double Gates area of Bluefield, Virginia, and the cornerstone was laid.  Louis N. Dalton was the principal when the new school was completed in 1956.  Sadly, the original Graham High School on the hill, excepting the gymnasium, was destroyed by fire on New Year’s Eve 1957.  Then GIS principal M.L. Louthan climbed through a window to remove vital records.

 

Ensuing years saw many physical changes. A greenhouse and a shop were added in 1968 and 1971, later to be removed and replaced with a new business department and classrooms to accommodate the expanding computer technology of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. An expanded band room and music suite was completed in 1974.  In 1989, the library and science department were completely renovated and expanded.  Graham has witnessed several structural additions to accommodate and enhance academics, the arts, and technology. Graham has also expanded its athletic and recreational facilities with new additions in 2010.

 

As a rural, small-town public high school, Graham High reflects cultural diversity. The Graham High School student body and faculty grew when it merged in the 1960s with what was originally Graham Colored High School and later renamed Tazewell County High School. Expanded cultural diversity remains a characteristic of the school in contemporary society as well.

 

Graham High School has a history that boasts of success in academic, the arts, and athletics. Since the inception of the school and its desire for educational excellence along with the introduction of the Virginia Standards of Learning, Graham High School has been consistently fully accredited in all departments for the Commonwealth of Virginia.  GHS proudly displays trophies and plaques recognizing State Championship Titles in theater, forensics, band, and creative writing.  Athletics has fostered excellence as well with state championships in football, basketball, golf, tennis, and wrestling.  Complimenting the academic seal is the “G-Star” logo designed by Coach Glynn Carlock, William “Pig” Pruett, and Ray Brooks in the 1970s. Alongside the school colors of maroon and gray, athletic colors of cardinal red and gold were also introduced.

 

In addition to its first principal, Mr. Faulkner, Graham High School has grown and maintained its standard of excellence under the leadership of principals that include J.J. Lincoln, Z. T. Kyle, R.B. Wilson, T. Marcus Gillespie, Louis Dalton, Clark Brown, Dwight Speeks, James L. Brewster, Billy R. Stone, Sam K. Crockett, Charles C. Grindstaff, Gary O. Williams, John M. O’Neal, and Cynthia L. Beavers.

 

The GHS family endeavors to promote pride in its students, the school, and the community. P.R.I.D.E. encourages Patience, Respect, Integrity, Dedication, and Excellence and is an integral part of the “tradition of excellence” which enables GHS to consistently compete well in academics, the arts, and athletics.  The school seal and motto adopted in 1952, are mirrored in the Graham High School Mission Statement which recognizes “[The school’s] mission is to provide optimal learning experiences that will develop all students into life-long learners, who are prepared to continue their education and enter the workplace.”  This statement thus reflects the school’s continued commitment to its students and to the community as a whole.  The seeds planted on the “Hill of Learning” in 1914, continue to bring growth and success in the valley of Double Gates in the 21st Century.

 

Compiled by:

Peggy W. Scott, Retired Teacher

Graham High School, Tazewell County

 

Credits:

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

Rebecca Combs Richardson

Anthony K. Stephens

Tazewell County Public High School History

Debra Waugh