Berea High History

Chapter 1

Berea location in South Carolina - mapThe Berea community is located about six miles northwest of the city of Greenville, South Carolina, at the foot of Paris Mountain. The first people to settle in this area came primarily through the Blue Ridge Mountains from Pennsylvania and other northern states in the early eighteenth century. They were of Scotch-Irish and German descent and were, for the most part, poor and had limited formal education.

"The Scotch-Irish fleeing from high taxes, high land costs and bias of Pennsylvania, New York and New England, filed into the Piedmont region for cheaper farms. Ray Allen Billington describes these pioneers as bold, devout, shrewd men, hating Indians and Easterners with impartial vigor and determined to 'Keep the Sabbath.'1 (W.D. Workman, Jr., This is the South, Howard, NY, 1959, p.129)

These early settlers brought with them tools for clearing land, livestock, seed and firearms. Where they chose to build their homes and plant their crops was part of the Cherokee Indian territory. The Cherokees were usually friendly, although at times they were hostile. The settlers of the Piedmont region had limited opportunities for formal education, unlike their counterpart in the low country where books, plans for schools, museums and art works came from England. The sons of wealthy settlers in the low country often went abroad to study; however, this opportunity was rare in the Piedmont region. "Due to poor roads and other conditions, there was very little exchange of ideas and communications between the up and low country settlers." 2 (Personal interview with B. M. Gibson, March 25, 1966, Community Historian) Settlers in the Greenville area desiring an education went to private academies and then to college, which necessitated traveling outside the county. Even so, by 1891 Greenville County had two colleges, three high schools and two grade schools.3 (James Alexander Stoddard, "Backgrounds of Secondary Education in the South," Bulletin of the University of South Carolina, No. 150, Nov. 4, 1924, p. 72)

Chapter 2

Early Setting and Development

Prior to 1811 there was no provision in the General Statutes of South Carolina for a free public school organization in the state. In 1811 an act was passed to establish free schools throughout South Carolina. Yet, in the 1800's most South Carolina high schools, colleges, private schools and academies existed primarily to train the student in a professional field. There were very few schools which offered training of a general nature and many of these were established from a religious point of view.

Be it enacted by honorable the Senate and the House of Representatives now met and sitting in General Assembly, and by the authority of the same, that immediately after the passing of this Act, there shall be established in each election district within the State, a number of free schools equal to the number of members which such district is entitled to send to the House of Representatives in the Legislature of the Senate.4 (Vol. V, p. 640)

This act, which is too lengthy for inclusion here, provided the organization of the free schools. It did provide three hundred dollars annually to be paid from the state treasury for the maintenance of each school and stipulated that reading, writing and arithmetic would always be taught as directed by the commissioners.

The First Constitution To Mention Education

The constitution of 1868 was the first to mention education. The following are some of its provisions:

  1. A poll tax of one dollar to be used exclusively for the public schools.
  2. All public schools to be exempt from taxation.
  3. Schools to be kept open six months of the year.
  4. Compulsory attendance for ages six to sixteen.
  5. Annual tax for schools.3 (p. 166)

The first free public school in the Berea area was built under the legislative enactments of 1811 and 1868. The school district was located in Parris Mountain Township.

The Hodges School

Mr. Tom Blakely, long time resident of the community, remembered that the first school in the Berea area was located on the Blackberry Valley Road and was known as the Hodges School.5 (Interview, Mr. Tom Blakely, March 25, 1966) The following was recorded in the 1873 deed records:

That J. M. Hodges in consideration of the sum of fifteen ($15.00) dollars paid by the trustees of the public school of Parris Mountain Township of Greenville County, trustees being J. T. Blakely, Thomas Farr, and J. B. Hawkins, a parcel of land containing two and six tenths acres on or near a small branch of Hooper's Creek back water of Saluda River with water rights along the road to the beginning of a spring be used for the purpose of a school. 6 (Deed Record, Book EE, p. 586, Greenville County Court House, Greenville, South Carolina)

As the settlers moved into the area they settled along the rich bottom land of the Saluda River. For this reason the new school was built near the backwater of the Saluda River.7 (Interview, Mrs. D. B. Hunt, April 3, 1966)

Berea SchoolFive years lapsed between the Constitution of 1868 and the time land was acquired for the building of a free school house for children of the Berea community. The building was a log structure containing one classroom. The faculty consisted of one teacher. (Artist's rendition of the Hodges school)

The Saluda School

In 1884 the school was moved as recorded in the Greenville County Court House:

That J. M. Hodge in consideration of the sum of twenty-five ($25.00) dollars paid by the trustees of the free school of Parris Mountain Township the trustees being J. J. Waters, T. J. Hunt, C. J. Hill to acres for the purpose of a school house. Also, a right of way for a wagon road from the school house to intersect with the road running by Mr. P. G. Groce.8 (Deed Record, Book RR, p. 324, Greenville County Court House, Greenville, South Carolina)

The land where the new school stood was on the current Gibson Drive and the school was known as the Saluda School. It was later moved to the intersection of Circle Drive and Hunt's Bridge Road and was still known as the Saluda School; however, many older people of the community called this school the "Davis" school because James Davis lived in the area and was Superintendent of Greenville County Schools and the land on which the school was built was part of the Davis Estate.9(Interview, Mr. B. M. Gibson, March 25, 1966)

That J. William Davis for the sum of Three ($3.00) dollars paid by the Board of Trustees of Parris Mountain Township and School District a parcel of land situated on the road leading from W. B. Hunts to Greenville one acre for the purpose of a public school house.10 (Title to Real Estate, Book TT, p. 331, Greenville Court House, Greenville, S.C., 1885)

The Saluda, or Davis School, was a one-room one-teacher building with one large stove for heat and long slab benches for seats. The school encompassed up to the seventh or eighth grade and the school day was from eight A.M. to four P.M. Classes were held during the summer when the students were not helping with the crops and did not start in the fall until after Thanksgiving. Students were taught reading, geography, spelling, and arithmetic. A book known as the Blue Back Speller was heavily used during this time. 5

Families had to give their share of the wood for the stove and many arguments developed because some did not always share this responsibility. Students had to carry water to the school from a private well of a nearby neighbor. The school was used on Sundays as a place for Sunday School. 7

Because people in the community had little formal education and spent most of their time on the farm, they had very little interest in school affairs. Most of the people did not have a job other than farming and some of the students went to school until they were seventeen or eighteen even though the school went only to the seventh or eighth grade.

This school, the Saluda or Davis school, combined with the Forestville school and was known as Armstrong, located in the Armstrong Community on Keeler's Bridge Road. Armstrong sent students to Berea High as part of the freshman class in later years. Armstrong, although moved from its location on Keeler's Bridge Road, still sends students to the Berea Middle & Senior High schools today.
Photograph was taken in November 1916, one month before the school was lost to fire.

Armstrong Elementary - November 1916 - Photo kindly provided by Randall & Patricia Wynn and prepared by Janette Ledbetter Bryant, Class of 1983, for web site use. This paper is in the original handwriting of Miss Mamie Lee Wynn, an Armstrong teacher and later a teacher at the first Berea High School.

The First School Named Berea

Both the Deed Books in the Greenville County Court House and the memory of elderly residents of Berea confirmed that the land for the first school to be named Berea was secured in 1885.

That W. P. Cunningham, J. C. Edwards and S. B. Watson inconsideration of five dollars paid by the trustees of the free public school of Parris Mountain Township the trustees being J. B. Watkins, J. T. Blakely and Thomas Hunt, all that piece of land situated on White Horse Road and adjoining land of Gabe Thompson, Thomas Thompson and E. E. Edwards containing one acre for the purpose of having and maintaining a free public school for white children. Resolving to have and maintain thereof a private school when the public school is not in operation.15 (Title to Real Estate, Book TT, p. 331, Greenville County Court House, Greenville, South Carolina)

First Two-Roomed Berea School, 1885 With addition of third room, this became the first accredited Berea High State School, 1911. This picture was taken in front of the two roomed Berea State High School in 1907. (Provided by Margie Philpot of the Class of 1939, with her father 3rd boy from the left with tie)The first Berea School consisted of two rooms and it was located on property left of the current College Park Church of God on White Horse Road. Students sat two to a desk and the boys were responsible for chopping and bringing in the wood for the stove (later this gave way to coal), and the girls had to sweep. Transportation for the students was primarily by foot, and water was carried from a near-by home. It was noted that all the students drank from the same dipper.9

Why was the school named Berea?

Berea was a city in Macedonia, 24 miles inland from the Aegean in the plain below Mt. Bermion. There apparently were springs in the area as the name means "place of many waters." During his Second Missionary Journey, Paul visited Berea (originally spelled Beroea) on his way from Thessalonica to Achaia (c.f. Acts 17:10, 13), where the people were receptive to his preaching and escorted him to Athens.43 (Dr. Douglas Vaughan, email Feb. 20, 2002)

In Acts 17:10,11 the people of Berea are described as having treated the Apostle Paul more kindly than did the people of Thessalonica. The sacred writer there states that the Bereans were more noble than the Thessalonicans and "received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things are so."16 (Berea Baptist History, 107 years of Christian Service, Watch Service, Dec. 31, 1950)

Evidently, it was from this Biblical passage that the community and church name was chosen. Since the church was formed before the first known school, it is assumed that the school simply used the name of the church and community.

By 1885 interest in education had grown in the community. Citizens demanded strict discipline in school and approved of corporal punishment . After having established the school, the people in the community left its affairs in the hands of school officials. Indeed, throughout the history of Berea School, the attitude of the people toward the institution has been one of cooperation. 9

In 1900 Berea is listed in the annual report of the State Superintendent of Education as having one teacher, sixty-eight pupils and a school session lasting twenty-four weeks. Mr. W. P. Cunningham was chairman of the Board of Trustees and the annual budget for the school was $355.72. The students studied spelling, reading, mental arithmetic, written arithmetic, geography, history, and science. The school was able to operate a little longer than the regular term (under law at this time, terms could be set by the local trustees) by the payment of tuition fees.17 (1900 Annual Report of the State Superintendent of Education, p. 101) The Berea School was under the direction of three trustees until 1951 when the schools of Greenville County consolidated into one district.

The First Berea Library

In 1906 the Berea School established her first library with one hundred forty volumes. The library was established under "An Act to encourage the establishment of libraries in public school of the rural districts" which was passed in 1904. 18 (1905 Annual Report of the State Superintendent of Education, p. 23) Under this act the patrons and friends of a free public school established a library by paying ten dollars for this purpose. The school district also paid ten dollars. After establishing the library the trustees of each district had the duty of selecting books from an approved list drawn up by the State Department of Education.

In the South Carolina constitution of 1895, a three mill tax was imposed to be applied to schools in each county. Each district could also levy a special tax to apply to its schools; however, this tax could not exceed four mills. Very few schools had levied this tax by 1906 although Berea, along with other schools, did use this special tax for financing the school in later years.

In the annual report of the State Superintendent of Education in 1906, the following taxes were used for support of free public schools in the state: the three mill tax, special tax, dispensary fund, poll and dog tax. Rural schools were extremely hard pressed for money and in later years special appropriations were made to ease this burden.17 (p. 183) .

South Carolina Education System Development

In the first few years of the 1900's there was much criticism of the South Carolina education system. Prior to this time there was very little legislation governing the policy and procedures to be used by the state schools. The legislation in 1811 and the Constitution of 1868 were of utmost importance to the field of education, but were insufficient to meet the needs of the schools of South Carolina.

A growing concern among educators of the state was that South Carolina had not organized a system of high schools as late as 1900. Some schools called themselves high schools, but were little more than the required common schools. The State Superintendent of Education in his report in 1906 brings out this point: The absence of high schools makes a weakness in the educational system of South Carolina. The time has come when this want should be supplied. One of the most phenomenal growths in any educational line is the great growth of state universities in the middle and far west. This growth is largely accounted for by the provision on the part of legislatures of those state high schools. Such university growth is impossible without good preparatory and high school facilities. It is poor education policy for a state to spend approximately a quarter of a million dollars on four colleges and then make absolutely no provision for high schools to be feeders of those colleges.3 (p.76)

The South Carolina High School Act

Following the advice of the Superintendent of Education an act was passed in 1907 to provide for the establishment of high schools of the state. Among the provisions of this act were:

  1. A county, township, and aggregation of townships, or of adjoining districts, or any incorporated town with not more than 1,000 inhabitants are authorized to establish a high school.
  2. Two mills special levy for high school purposes authorized, upon election of qualified voters.
  3. State Boards authorized to receive gifts for support and benefit of high schools, and the issuance of bonds for erection of buildings and support of high schools authorized.18 (Annual Report, p. 57, Report 1907)

However, the schools were still not meeting the needs of its students. The following criticism comes from a study submitted by Mr. W. H. Hand under the provision of the new high school act to make an appraisal of conditions of the school system of South Carolina in 1909.

Report of School Conditions by W. H. Hand

The schools in 1909 were in bad need of reorganization. Across the state of South Carolina we had very few schools worthy of the name. The remainder of the schools were only going through the process of teaching. One of the reasons why our educational system is in need of repair is money. In 1907 when the state passed the High School Act she spent $4.50 per pupil. This included expenditures on school houses, furniture, apparatus, libraries, [and] teachers' salaries. In 1906 North Carolina spent $6.90; Mississippi, $8.10; New York, $47.00. The money spent by the state comes from the three mill tax imposed by the Constitution of
1895 and is collected by the counties on its own property. Some counties do not return its taxable property justly, while other counties return it as one fourth of its real value. The second reason for a poor school system is low teacher's salaries. The average salary for teachers in 1908 was $267.00 a year, or $45.87 a month. Also, the teachers were incompetent, some having finished the course of the common school, passed an examination by the local Board of Trustees on question[s] prepared by the State Board, and taught students who, in some cases were more advanced than she. Also, a teacher's certificate was easily had, sometime passed out as a favor, and often time during the examination the room was open to discussion by all persons taking the test as to the best answer to a particular question. Many of the rural schools would attend only 110 days whereas the state required 180. The reason for this was lack of school funds, some of the rural schools had to run the school on $300.00 and when the money ran out, they had to close down. Another reason for a short school term was that money had to be held over to staff the school the following year until the tax collection time. Some of the other reasons why South Carolina had a faltering educational system were: poor schoolhouses and poor equipment; too many little half supported schools; neighborhood jealousies and quarrels; inadequate supervision; constant change of teachers; the course of study; and poor attendance.19(William Harvey Hand, "Our Schools," Bulletin of the University of South Carolina, Nov. 16, 1909)

Berea Becomes a High School

It was shortly after the High School Act in 1907 passed that Berea applied for accreditation as a high school. In 1911 Berea met the requirements as a Class "E" rural high school as stipulated under the High School Act of 1907. In the Annual Report to the Superintendent of Education, schools were classified as A, C, D, and E. An "E" classification was a school which offered a three year curriculum [and making not fewer than ten standard units of credit], had two teachers who gave all their time to high school instruction, had a recitation period of forty minutes and a school year of not less than thirty-two weeks.20 (Annual Report, p.36, Report 1912) According to Mrs. D. B. Hunt (Berea resident) students had to be asked to come and make the necessary number for a high school in order for Berea to qualify.

In 1906 South Carolina had thirty-two schools of secondary grade, either public and private, that could claim a four year program of studies, and of these thirty-two, six claimed the right to confer academic degrees. Clearly, the Berea community was devoted to having a good school district to have a high school status in only four years. Instrumental in this work were F. M. E. Martin and Mrs. Mendenhall who solicited the community for names to sign a petition for a high school.2

When Berea received accreditation as a high school another room was added to the school making a total of three classrooms of wooden structure and a supper was held in celebration of the occasion.7 At this time the school encompassed grades one through ten with grades eight (sixteen students), nine (four students), and ten (five students) being the secondary school. Mr. I. R. Barton was the first principal of the high school. English , Latin, United States history, math, and science comprised the curriculum.

No state diplomas were awarded to Berea graduates at this time. Under the 1907 High School Act only those schools offering a four year course and fourteen units of credit could grant diplomas. Berea offered a three year course and 5.9 units of credit.20 (p.101)

At this time Berea District was known as ten-C and carried this classification until August, 1951, when all the school districts of Greenville County were consolidated into one county unit. Students received their textbooks under the act of the General Assembly, Section 1184, code of Law of South Carolina, 1902. 20 (p.143)

In 1913, Berea and the Saluda or "Davis" School combined. In this consolidation, some of the students came to Berea while others went to Armstrong. This consolidation occurred under the provisions of the Nicholson Act of 1912 which encouraged consolidation of small school districts and the establishment of larger schools.

After 1913, Berea was not listed as a High School since according to the Annual Report of the State Superintendent, there were not enough pupils, enough teachers, enough interest, enough money, and not enough cooperation. In 1916, the total revenue for the school was $1,362.90 and the school property was worth $235.00.21 (Annual Report, p. 189, Report 1914)

Berea Moves to New Location (1916-1938)

Pictured from left to right are B. G. Huff, George Hawkins, and Ed Means. (Photo provided by Bruce Blakely ('81), great grandson of B. G. Huff.)In 1916 Berea moved from its location on White Horse Road to a new site at the intersection of Farr's Bridge Road and Franklin Road. this move brought the school closer to the center of the school district.22 (Personal Interview, Mr. Cecil Hodges, April 14, 1966)

"That Mary C. Cunningham in consideration for the sum of $600.00 paid by the trustees of the School District 10-C of Greenville County, trustees being M. G. Jones, F. M. E. Martin, and H. L. Huff, that parcel of land situated at the intersection of Farr's Bridge Road and Franklin Road containing three acres more or less." 22 (Title to Real Estate, Volume 38, p. 316)

The new school was a two story building with four classrooms downstairs, two upstairs and an auditorium on the second floor that could seat two hundred students. Since there were no desks, students sat on benches. Water was supplied by a well which remained in operation until 1957 when the district received city water. The school was heated by a stove in each room. "You would be blistered on one side and frozen on the other." (Mrs. Amy Redfern, Greenville News interview October 18, 1989) A school cafeteria didn't exist. The students brought lunches in sacks or tin pails. Usually this was left overs from breakfast. Sausage biscuits and baked sweet potatoes with well water were popular lunches. This school, with the addition of more land and an auditorium and gymnasium, served the school until 1940 when under the Works Progress Administration it was torn down and a new building erected.

Shortly after the school was moved, two legislative acts affected Berea in its development. In 1919, the Term Extension Act was passed which encouraged rural schools to stay open longer during the year. In 1924 the 6-0-1 Act came into being. This Act stipulated that the state would pay for six months of school if the district would pay for one additional month of instruction.

Basketball Organized

In 1924 Berea started her first basketball team. Team uniforms were brown khaki shorts and white tee shirts with single green stripe. Since that time Berea teams have worn the colors of green and white.23 (Personal Interview, Mr. Tom Jones, March 27, 1966) [Colors altered to green, gold, and white by school vote in 1983] In 1927 the girl's team was organized. Their uniform consisted of large black bloomers which extend[ed] below the knees, and white middy blouses.24 (Martha Huff, "Sports," The Berean, October 1, 1935, Vol. I, p.6.) In 1928 the school bought the first green and white basketball uniforms for both teams..

1926 Graduating Class

State Diploma Awarded

In 1924 Berea was listed as a first year high school in the Annual Report of the Superintendent of Education. Under the revised High School Law, in order to award a state high school diploma, a school was required to offer a four-year course (grades eight, nine, ten, and eleven) and sixteen units of work with a term of one hundred and eighty days. A school could not award a state diploma until four years after its acceptance as a high school. Thus Berea awarded its first high school diplomas to its 1927 graduating students. Up to this time the students were awarded a certificate. Once state diplomas were awarded Berea was renamed "Berea State High School.".

Parent Teacher Association Organized

The people in the community began to show heightened interest in the school by organizing a School Improvement Association in 1926. The association was composed of parents, teachers, and adults in the community and aimed to aid in the education of the students and to study the problems in the community which related to the school. This organization was converted into the Parent Teacher Association in 1932.25 (Mrs. Joe Martin, "The Berea Parent Teacher Association," The Berean, no date, p.3)

In the late 1920's a few students from Vineland, a school located in Pickens County, attended Berea. Vineland students continued to attend Berea until the early 1940's when they began to attend the Dacusville School (Pickens County). In 1927 Berea received students from the Armstrong School as part of the 1927 freshman class. These students were transported by a truck until 1928 when they were transported by a privately owned bus. Also in 1927, the first course in agriculture was offered under the direction of Mr. Hugh Brown. 26 (Interview, Mr. J. H. Barnett, April 18, 1966, Superintendent of Berea School District, 1928-1932) The inclusion of the course in the curriculum was a result of the Smith-Hughes Act of 1917 which allocated special funds for the teaching of vocational courses in high school. At the start of this program Mr. Brown divided his time between Berea and Dacusville.

Later, home economics was to be offered because of the Smith-Hughes Act. In 1928 the first debate team was organized. In later years this team won many awards for the school. Also, music was added to the curriculum and dramatics was made a part of the extra curricular offerings.

Berea State High School  Basketball 1935 - Record:  16-2   B League and B Loving Cup Championship  - Mr. J.M.

New Gymnasium and Auditorium Added

In 1930 a new auditorium was added to the school and in the same year a gymnasium was constructed behind the auditorium. According to Mr. Barnett, Superintendent, Berea's was the first indoor gymnasium in the schools of Greenville County. It was patterned after the gymnasium in Gray Court-Owings High School, Gray Court, South Carolina. The partition between the auditorium stage and the gymnasium was moveable and for athletic events spectators would sit on the stage of the auditorium to watch the games. 26 Bonds were floated for the construction of these two buildings.

Also in 1930 Berea's athletic teams entered the County League which was composed of schools in Greenville County. The following is recorded in The Greenville News:

Berea State High School  Basketball 1936 - Record:  12-0 (Undefeated both A and B Leagues)  A Loving Cup Champions  - Back Row:  Roctor McCrary, Guy Davis, Earl Lotz, Ray Hodgens, J.W. Looper  Front Row:  Mr. M.W. Boyd, J.W. Mathews, Harold Gibson, Mr. J.M. Lovers of basketball have paced and jammed the Berea gym often, but have never seen the local team defeated on the home court. .The record of the last four years follows: .

1936 Girls Basketball - Back Row:  Psyche Farr, Martha Jean McCarter, Sara Mae Wyatt, Frances Farr, Addie Lou Cisson, Beatrice McAdams Front Row:  Eunice Mathews, Margaret Hunt, Rachel Wood, Erma Riggins,  Sadie Daviws, Miss Chastine, Nancy Dillard, Mascot

"The team has made a real good record in the past four years, winning sixty-two games and losing only three." 27 (From the scrapbook of Mr. Wynn, student at that time of Berea)

Funding for the school came from state and local budgets. In addition a power house and a railroad which was located in the district were taxed to help finance the school.28 (Personal interview, Mr. Ed Means, member of the Board of Trustees, April 14, 1966)

In 1930, Berea was not listed in the Annual Report of the State Superintendent of Education as a high school. That year Berea offered only a three-year course and did not meet the minimum requirements of a four year course and sixteen units as outlined by the revised High School Law.29 (Annual Report, p. 9, Report 1930) In 1931 it was listed again as a high school and offered a diploma. French and trigonometry were added to the curriculum at this time.

The school often was the center for meetings of community groups at night and after school it was frequently open for recreation in the afternoons. It was not uncommon for the school to provide entertainment for the community. Plays, contests, usually of an agricultural nature, fairs, and athletics provided most of the entertainment.26 In October, 1935 the Parent Teacher Association sponsored a community fair on the school grounds. All of the grammar grades in the school [district] submitted projects, and the high school students submitted the school paper. The paper was called the Berean and was sponsored by Miss Vara Neves. In publication since that time the name was changed in 1963 to The Berea Times.

The Berea High School Alma Mater was written in 1933 by Mrs. Eleanor F. Farr, who was asked by one of her teachers to write a song and "will" it to the school as the Alma Mater. The words were written and fitted to the tune of an old hymn. The school used this as the Alma Mater until 1953 when Miss Hannah Lou Dargan, music director arranged the tune for chorus. In 1963 Mr. James McMahan, school band director, arranged the work for band.30

In 1937 the school library was located in the English room where books were placed on shelves around the walls. Most of these books were checked out of the Greenville County Library and could be kept for six weeks. During this time there was a shortage of reference materials in the library. 31 (Interview, Dr. A. H. Sanders, April 20, 1966)

This was the time, too, when the school had a "lay-by" summer school. Under this arrangement school was dismissed in early May for plowing, started back about mid-July until September, stopped for harvest of the crops, and started back the day after Thanksgiving.

Berea State High School, during this time, was classified as a "C" school in the county league and had six teachers and one hundred twenty-five students. An additional building was added to the school plant to accommodate agriculture and machine shop which were taught together.31 The curriculum, in those days included:

English--four years 
Mathematics--four years 
Agriculture--four years 
Home Economics--four years 
History--two years 
General Science & Biology

Some of the extra curricular activities were:

Palmetto Literary Society 
Declamation Contest 
First Aid Club 
Adelphien Literary Society 
Expression Contest (regulated by the High School League)
Beta Club (National Charter, 1936) 
School Paper
Glee Club
Basketball (Girls & Boys)

According to Dr. Sanders, Principal of Berea from 1936-1938, the school was doing an effective job in meeting individual needs. Ten to fifteen per cent of the students went successfully to college. Students could pursue either business, vocational, or college preparatory courses. 31 .

Third Berea School Built (1939-1961)

Berea School - Built in 1939In 1939 with labor supplied by the Works Progress Administration, the old two story building was torn down and a new building was erected in its place.

"The new $40,000 educational building of Berea High and Grammar school will be dedicated tonight at eight o'clock. Cost of the new building, which will house both high school and elementary grades, was borne jointly by the W.P.A. and the Berea School District. Active in carrying through plans to completion were the trustees, Carl F. Bynum, chairman; Harold G. Cunningham, secretary; and T. H. Moore. The old classroom building was torn down and replaced with the present structure. The new addition has fourteen classrooms, a science department, a library, and offices. Modern water and *heating facilities were installed. The new building, gives Berea one of the most modern school plants in Greenville County. 32 (Taken from the scrapbook of Mr. A. W. Hawkings, Superintendent of Schools, 1939-1946)

"I started in the old Berea Elementary School in 1938 (the year it was built). There were no floors in the building as it was not completed in the summer months when we started school. We had to walk across the floor joists down the long hall to the old first grade room." (Email note from Norma Jean (Smith) Allen, Class of 1950, May 22, 2003)

*Modern heating facilities would have referred to coal fired furnaces with radiant heat provided in each school room by hot water radiators. Water would have been provided by a dedicated well since city water was not available in the Berea community until 1954.42 (Interview, Harold Vaughn, July 6, 1999)

As a part of the 1939 building, a cannery was constructed on the school grounds and was operated as part of the community program for adults. The purpose of the cannery was to enable farm people to can their food at a reasonable price and in less time than home canning and it frequently operated well into the night. A potato house was also built to enable people of the community to cure their sweet potatoes. Both the potato house and the cannery were built with Works Progress Administration labor. By the 1960's the potato house had to be used as a classroom due to crowded conditions.

The first dining room was added in the early 1940's and was called "the soup kitchen." Food was cooked on an oil stove, and two classrooms were used as the eating area. The dining room was later moved to the basement of the school.32

Berea Goes to State

In 1940 basketball was the major sport at Berea. Berea won the Class "C" championship and went to Columbia to play for the state championship.34 (The Berea Hi-Light- 1940 Annual) In 1940 the following appeared in The Greenville News:

A wildly cheering throng of 1,500 fans jammed into Beattie Hall last night to witness the thrilling climax of the Greenville County High School District 10 basketball tourney. In class "B" ball Piedmont whipped Slater. . . . . in "C" ball Berea's hard fighting Bulldogs finally whipped a stubborn Laurel Creek 24-20 to walk away with the class "C" championship.35 (Scrapbook clipping of Jane Hawkins, student of the time and daughter of the superintendent)

The curriculum in 1940 was largely college preparatory according to A. W. Hawkins, Superintendent of the District. Trustees, teachers and residents of the community co-operated to improve the educational program. The curriculum was also enriched to meet the needs of boys and girls. Along with the usual scholastic subjects, the school offered agriculture, shop, home economics and commercial work.

The teachers, although they did not have job security, were well qualified. From a faculty of eight, four had Master's degrees. 1940 marked the first year the seniors went to Washington and also the first yearbook. That annual was called the Berea Hi-Lights. It was not published again until 1953 when the name was changed to The Beacon.

1945 ended the name of Berea State High School. The word State was dropped [in common use] and was removed from the title by A. W. Hawkins. The length of the school day was 8:30-2:00 in 1946-47 and the compulsory attendance law was in effect. The school district was in sound financial condition in 1947 and operated within its budget.32

In 1948 Berea was almost phased out as a high school. There was some consideration given to sending Berea students to Welcome High School.36 (Interview, Dr. A. N. Sanders, Professor of History, Furman University) This consideration came as a result of the Peabody Report which stated:

The continuance of high school with an enrollment of fewer than 300 students should be discouraged. Except where undue hardships would be encouraged, those high schools of fewer than 300 students should be eliminated with the students being transferred to other high school centers. The high school of fewer than 300 students does not have the base upon which a sound and broad program of education can be established.37 (A Report of the South Carolina Educational Survey Committee, Public Schools of South Carolina, Division of Survey and Field Services. George Peabody College for Teachers, Nashville, Tennessee, 1948, p. 68.)

However, people began to move into the Berea area and school enrollment increased.

Chapter 3 From 1951 to 2005

.The Berea community began to change from rural to suburban in the early 1950's. The G. I. Bill and Federal Housing Acts helped stimulate the growth in the area. The people of Berea were no longer farmers. While many of them still had a few acres for a garden, their primary jobs were found in the city of Greenville.

The attitude of the community toward the school was one of cooperation and the people had confidence in the ability of school officers.38 (Interview, Mr. Orr, Superintendent of Berea District Schools, 1949)


In 1951 Greenville County Schools were changing and growing and it was determined that the best organization of the schools would be that of a county unit system.

Feeling that the existence of a great number of school districts in the state made it extremely difficult, if not impossible to carry out the policy of equal opportunity for all children, the South Carolina General Assembly in 1951 passed the General School Law (Act Number 379). This law recognized existing County Boards of Education, established such boards where they did not exist and empowered the County Boards to consolidate school districts. On the 23rd of August 1951, the Greenville County Board of Education issued the following:

ORDER OF CONSOLIDATION State of South Carolina, County of Greenville

Pursuant to the provision of Section 7, Article III of Act 379 of the General Assembly of South Carolina for 1951, The Greenville County Board of Education, after long and careful study of the question of consolidation of the various school districts in Greenville County so as to effectively carry out the intent of said Act, has determined that it is to the best interest of education that all 82 districts within Greenville County, including Greer School District Number 285, which lies partly within Spartan burg County, Fountain Inn School District Number 65, which lies partly within Laurens County, and Piedmont School District Number 90, which lies partly within Anderson County, shall be consolidated into one school district. This district is to be known and designated as the School District of Greenville County, South Carolina, Number 520 and shall embrace the area of all the former 82 school districts of said county, including those lying partly without Greenville County as set out above, and said district shall own and have title to all of the real and personal property and assets of said districts, and shall assume all of the liabilities and obligations of same. AND IT IS SO ORDERED. 39 (The School District of Greenville County , p 5)

As a result of consolidation, the individual trustees of the Berea School District was dissolved but were used from time to time in an advisory capacity by the County Board.

Many of the people of the community did not approve of consolidation. The school had played an important part in the life of the people; it had been well organized and administered. Under the direction of three trustees, in 1940 the school was one of the most modern in Greenville County; and due to consolidation the school would be operated by a Board of Trustees that was not of the Berea Community. The people of the community were apprehensive that they would not have voice in the education of their children.

When consolidation took effect, Berea School District had $7,700.00 to spend in three days or the money would have to be turned over to the County Board. The lockers in the Berea School were built with this money. 38

In 1952 the McCrary Company installed underground pipe for steam heat to the auditorium and gym. This came after a fire had destroyed the inside of the auditorium due to a defective flu. 1953 was the year when the Beacon, the Berea annual, received its permanent name. "During the 1952-53 school year there was a school wide competition for naming the school's yearbook. The name the Beacon was the idea of 8th grader, Tommy Edwards (Class of 1957), who noticed that there were two sets of AM radio towers in the Berea community and they were beacons ." (Billie Burdine [Hogg], first Beacon editor - Interview June 7, 200245) In 1954 Berea began experiencing rapid growth in student population. In 1954, when city water was installed in the area, Berea's crowded conditions became acute. The following is reported by Engelhardt, Engelhardt, and Leggett, Consultants of New York.

The Berea School has an enrollment in 1961-62, of 978 students with a capacity of 540 students in regular rooms. Eleven make-shift and portable teaching spaces have been created which provide a temporary capacity of 870 students. The building is substantially overcrowded. The community is growing rapidly. The Elementary School enrollment has increased over 70 per cent in the last six years and the first grade enrollment of 82 is more than double the similar enrollment in 1956-57. There is an obvious urgent need for additional facilities in this area. The Board of Education has marshaled its limited financial resources in order to make it possible to construct a secondary school of one thousand students in this area. The population is becoming more diversified and represents constantly widening range of human interest. The present facilities are not adequate for an extended secondary school program. The school should be converted into an elementary school. It is decided that a new high school be built to relieve the conditions of the old school and to provide space for future growth. 40 (School Building Needs, Greenville, South Carolina Summary Report, Engelhardt, Engelhardt, and Leggett, Volume II, 1962)

Fourth Berea High School (1962- 2005)

Berea 1962The fourth Berea High School was opened in September, 1962. The school cost $1,300,000. It was located between Berea Drive and Burdine Street on thirty-three acres of land which were purchased at approximately $1,000 per acre. The school was planned for 750 students in grades seven to twelve. When opened, this modern, new school had such innovations as carpet in the library, in one corridor [100 wing hallway], and in one classroom. Also the walls, separating the corridor from the classroom [and between the individual classrooms] did not extend to the ceiling but had an eighteen inch open area. The school which separated from the elementary school for the first time in 1962 was then known as Berea Junior and Senior High School. During this year, Berea High School fielded its first football team. The stadium was later named "Bulldog" stadium by Mr. John Duckworth, civic leader of the community.41 (Interview, Coach John Liston, May 18, 1966)[*Lloyd Voyles Fuman University master's thesis end] The school name changed officially to Berea High School when the new Berea Middle School opened January 1973.

Berea StadiumAdditional expansions and renovations were conducted as the school's population swiftly grew. In 1971 seventeen classrooms were built (200 Wing) and the library expanded incorporating four classrooms in anticipation of the district wide racial integration of all schools (1972). By 1977 the old belching black-smoke coal fired furnace was retired, though the towering coal silo remained behind the school until the late 1990s. In 1983 school colors were officially updated to green, white, & gold by a student and faculty school vote. "In the 1960s gold trim was used for both our football and basketball team uniforms."(Jim Mattos, 4/18/2006) The Berea High student body once again suddenly increased with the closing of Parker High School in 1985 with most of that school's student body being divided between Berea, Carolina and Greenville High School. In 1988 with the school's population over 1100 students, came additional renovations which included school-wide air conditioning, ten new classrooms, new media center, a "commons" building, and enlarging the administrative facilities, fine arts wing, athletic facilities, and cafeteria area.

The 1990's was a time of expanding educational technologies. The Berea High Media Center's technology plan was instrumental in the school's electronic media development and was influential in the district's rapid academic technology growth. In 1989 wiring for networked computer use was completed between administrative offices and the Media Center. By January, 1990 the Berea Media Center had acquired the district's first library computer server (a "powerful" 386/33MHz CPU). In the 1992-93 school year, Berea High added the school district's first multi-media CD-ROM towers to its server to enhance electronic materials access. During the same year the Media Center's old library card catalog was electronically automated. In 1996 the school's classrooms were wired with local funding and volunteer labor provided by ITCDeltaCom for networked CD-ROM software and Internet access. Berea High joined the world wide web with its own Web pages in the 1997-1998 school year. By the 1999-2000 school year, Berea High's use of remote Internet subscription services became a model for the district and was recognized in the state for it's advanced use of educational technologies.

Berea Aerial View

On January 17, 1997, the Berea High School gymnasium was officially named the "James G. Mattos Gymnasium". "Jim" Mattos served Berea High School as an educator, yearbook advisor, and coach from 1957-1984. Coach Mattos led his teams to seven conference basketball championships, nine track, three cross country, and five back-to-back Greenville County track championships. He was named Greenville County Teacher of the Year in August 1978 and in October 1978 recognized as the South Carolina State Teacher of the Year. After retiring from public education he served our community for ten years in the South Carolina House of Representatives (1985-1994).

The plaque in the Berea High School gym reads:

Coach Mattos never asked more of those under his tutelage than he was willing to give, whether it was athletics, the classroom or an extra curricular activity. His demanding style and unlimited giving of his time typified his philosophy that high expectations bring outstanding results. Jim Mattos' influence will be felt for generation as these students become parents and follow his example of excellence.

Berea Softball Teams Win Three Consecutive State Championship Titles

.Berea High School won the Class AAA state softball championship May 16, 2003 defeating West Florence High, May 12, 2004 by defeating Brookland-Cayce High School, and May 11, 2005 again defeating Brookland-Cayce High. The following appeared in The Greenville News: .

2003 Softball Champs"It was a game that took the Berea High School players' and fans' breath away - in one case, literally - and left everyone feeling exhausted. In a victory that in some ways defied logic, Berea outlasted West Florence 2-1 in nine innings. The Bulldogs (34-4) claimed the Class AAA best-of-three series and the school's first state softball championship. Coach Lee Murphy stated that if there were ever girls that deserved the championship, it was this group." The Greenville News 05/17/03

2004 Softball Champs"The Berea High Bulldogs captured a second consecutive state AAA softball championship by defeating Brookland-Cayce (Columbia) in two straight games before hundreds of elated and excited fans. Berea (30-5) seized the championship moment and rejoiced. After being drenched by a bucket of water, Coach Lee Murphy thanked the parents and fans for their support. Her acknowledgement put the finishing touches on back-to-back championship seasons." The Greenville News 05/13/04

2005 Softball Champs"The long, winding road traveled by the Berea softball team has taken the Bulldogs to three consecutive Class AAA championships. They clinched their latest by beating B-Cayce 6-2 in nine innings. During the presentation of medals, Coach Murphy drew the loudest cheers from the Berea crowd! 'We have awesome fans,' Murphy said. It's all about these kids and the way they've come together." The Greenville News 05/12/05

Chapter 4 -  New Beginnings for the 21st Century

New Berea High School proposed 2006The Greenville County Board of Trustees proposed March, 2003 that a new Berea High School be built at the current location with an expanded 44.4 acre campus at a cost of $29.5 million (Total Project cost - $35.4 million). New construction began May 2004 with completion August 2006.

Old & New Berea High Schools together for the last few days (May 2006)

Old and New Berea High Schools together for a few days - May, 2006

On the evening of August 15, 2006, parents, students, alumni, and community members were invited to view the newly constructed Berea High School. This school's first principal, Mr. William Roach, and his administrative staff had worked feverishly during the entire summer to insure that the facilities would be ready for the occasion. Teachers were allowed into the building in early August while construction continued around them to prepare their classrooms for the opening of school. Students attended for the first time the school on August 17, 2006. New to the school was a student commons area, multiple practice gyms, an athletic weight room, Junior ROTC facilities, yearbook and newspaper staff computer lab, four portable wireless classroom computer labs, telecast production room, new athletic and band practice fields, and a state-of-the-art computer communications network serving all staff members and students.

List of Principals or Superintendents

1911-13 R. I. Barton 
1914 Miss Minnie Eubanks 
1915 W. C. Hammond 
1916 R. I. Barton 
1917-18 H. M. Hodges 
1919 E. C. Shockley 
1920 Thomas G. Goldsmith 
1921-23 John B. Compton 
1924 T. A. McLeod 
1925-27 E. C. Shockley 
1928-32 J. H. Barnett 
1933 J. M. (Mack) Dillard
1934-35 William Boyd 
1936-38 A. H. Sander
1947-49 Harry Chapman
1949-62 John Orr
1962-67 Alfred H. Kirchner
1968-73 Lloyd K. Voyles
1974 Norman Mullins, Ph.D.
1975-84 Tom Moore
1985-91 Jim Whitson
1992-96 Harold Batson
1997-02 R. Keith East, Ph.D.
2003-09 William F. Roach
2010-present Michael Noel