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South Side set to celebrate 100 years

Brandon Paykamian • Updated Sep 10, 2019 at 12:26 PM

As one of the city’s oldest schools, South Side Elementary School has remained a fixture in Johnson City’s Tree Streets district for generations. 

On Saturday, the school will commemorate its centennial, celebrating 100 years of educating the South Side neighborhood’s students. 

“Everybody feels connected to their elementary school, but because we’re still here, it goes way back,” former Principal Anne Littleford said. “The fact that we’re still in existence, and it’s still a strong school and has always been (in) a strong community, I think, says a lot for Johnson City and for this area not to outgrow that ‘neighborhood feel.’”

The program will start at 10 a.m. with speakers including Johnson City Schools Superintendent Steve Barnett, Johnson City Mayor Jenny Brock, City Manager and former student Pete Peterson, former Principal John Boyd and Littleford.

Ahead of tours and a showing of photos and memorabilia from the school’s past and present, former East Tennessee State University professor and local historian Hal Hunter will lead a presentation on a “walk through the years” at South Side, which was first constructed in 1919 before the new school was established in 1996. 

“We hope those who attended South Side will want to be part of the event by visiting that day,” Barnett said. “It will be a time to recapture memories.”

For many, Littleford said, “South Side (Elementary School) is a part of them and their history,” and added that it was the neighborhood’s residents and their sense of community surrounding the school that helped stop the school from being closed in the early 1990s. 

“Because of them, they actually were able to keep it,” she said of their organizing efforts. 

When former Principal Amy Stover recently announced the milestone on Facebook, Littleford noticed that connection to the school remains the same. 

“There were so many comments on there from people saying, ‘My father went there, my grandfather went there and then our children went there.’ It was at a time when there weren’t so many schools. Now there’s so many,” she said. 

For more information on this and other Johnson City Schools events, visit www.jcschools.org

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