Local, Schools, Simpsonville

Memories of Simpsonville High School

When the Greenville County school board decided to merge Simpsonville, Mauldin, and Fountain Inn High Schools into one school, the project created some interesting challenges and experiences. Each school had a character of its own and now they were asked to blend together as one. In our February edition we relayed some of the examples of Fountain Inn High School experiences and traditions that were changed forever. The Fountain Inn article was presented with the perspective of two students recalling the last graduating class of Fountain Inn High School. The story was in addition to the front-page story that documented the plans to build the new Fountain Inn High School planned to open in the fall of 2021. The articles were a hit, both in the paper with our readers and with our online version, www.sentinelinternet.com The website garnered over 5000 views and several thousand Facebook shares. Realizing the popularity of recalling special events in the schools led us to consider sharing experiences from both Simpsonville and Mauldin High Schools as well.

Miss Sybil Martin Photo from 1957 Yearbook
Connie and Bob Gecy with Sybil Martin Todd – We had a delicious dinner and a wonderful visit with Mrs. Sybil Martin Todd at Tucker’s in Anderson! She shared so many good memories with us for our Simpsonville High/ Hillcrest High story!

Our article about Simpsonville High School shares information from another perspective. We asked two former teachers to document life at the old Simpsonville High School and the first years at the new building at the crest of the hill: Hillcrest High School. Miss Sybil Martin Todd and Mr. Bill Moody graciously accepted the challenge to share with us their thoughts and experiences.

Sybil Martin who began teaching at Simpsonville High School in 1950 said, “Before consolidation of Simpsonville, Mauldin, and Fountain Inn High each school had an array of interesting events transpiring at their schools.”

Mrs. Sybil Martin Todd continued, “As a first-year teacher at Simpsonville High School, during the first faculty meeting prior to school starting, I was handed my schedule requiring me to teach five different courses. That necessitated my going to fourth grade building to teach seventh grade arithmetic, then to the third floor of the high school building for an algebra class, then second floor for a senior chemistry class, etc. this was a good start for a teaching career!”

Mrs. Sybil recalls her experiences as follows; “The student body was fairly small, most of the students knew each other. I remember there were 48 students in the graduating class of 1957.”
“There were many conscientious students who did well, went on to college and pursued professional careers. There were also some reluctant learners some who struggled. Most of those I knew about became good citizens and backbones of the community and churches.”

Each week there was an assembly for all students, grades one through 12. Classroom teachers were responsible for a Chapel program one time during the year. Also, seniors enacted a play each year under the leadership of Miss Lois Abbott, Senior advisor. These were outstanding performances!”, Mrs. Todd commented.

“Seniors also had the privilege of going on a trip to Washington DC. Sometimes these trips were by commercial bus and others by train. They were quite educational and adventuresome!”
“There was an outstanding sports program with great coaches, cheerleaders, and band. Some games were won some were lost and some were rained out! Mauldin High School, I remember was the strongest competition in basketball and Fountain Inn was our rival in football.”

“Simpsonville High School operated under a strong curriculum with outstanding faculty and administration. There were other interesting factors. The First Baptist Church parking lot was the playground for the elementary school students and a parking lot for teachers. If there was a funeral at the church, school had to be dismissed early to make the parking lot available. Also, there was a power pole for electric wires and a transformer near one side of the building. When there were very strong winds, there was a danger of the pole being blown over onto the building. This too necessitated early dismissal.”

“One day each week, an activity time was designated during which clubs met. There was a Beta Club, Future Teachers Club, FFA, JHA and others.”

Administration Mr., J. E. Herndon, Asst. Supt. Area 4, Mr. M. O. Alexander, Supervising Prin. and Mr. C. G. Ballew, Asst. Prin. of High School

“The establishment of the lower Greenville County Fair under the auspices of vocational agricultural teacher, MO Alexander, took place on the grounds of Simpsonville High School. This was the beginning of a popular ongoing community event. Many volunteers have contributed time, money and effort to this event through the years.”

“While Hillcrest High School was on the drawing board, many decisions needed to be made, many questions had arisen, several committees had been formed. Would present facility members and administrators continue in the new school? What would the mascot be? What would be the school colors? And most important what would the name of the school be?”

“When the time came, all Simpsonville High School faculty who desired to continue were given a contract renewal and transferred to the new school. It was determined that the colors would be red and white; the mascot would be the RAM; alma mater was written by Pam Kuhn and Mr. Hickman both members of the faculty at Hillcrest high school.”

“During the last year at Simpsonville High School, MO Alexander was the supervising principal for grades one through 12, no kindergartens in schools at that time. Rather than continue in administration, he chose to return to vocational agricultural with co-teacher Mr. Hugh Chastain from Mauldin.”

“When Hillcrest High School opened, the road at the back of the school was not paved. MO would drive by to pick up several other teachers and we would slosh through the muddy road to get to school. On occasion, a school bus would be stuck in the driveway.” Mrs. Sybil remembered.

“At times during the first winter, the heating system did not work! Sometimes people would refer to the building as the ‘million-dollar icebox’.”

Mrs. Todd proudly stated, “Teaching at Simpsonville High School was a great experience! The faculty and staff worked diligently to provide a worthwhile education for each student. That dedication and accomplishment continued at the new blended Hillcrest High School. Through the years we have seen the fruits of our efforts.”

The foregoing information is as I recall it! If there are errors, my apologies.

Mr. Bill Moody,
Teacher, Coach
Athletic Director

Mr. Bill Moody

Bill Moody grew up in the Greenville area and has always been involved in sports. He excelled both in baseball and in basketball. He was a college basketball player at Wofford College and a minor league ballplayer for the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies. After a tour in the Navy during World War II he came home to Greenville, played a few more years of baseball for a local mill team where he was hired as the assistant athletic director. In 1955 he was hired by Greenville County schools to be the athletic director at Simpsonville High School.

“When I was hired at Simpsonville High School, they told me I’d be the athletic director, then they asked me if I would be a coach also.” commented Moody. “I agreed and my assignment grew into the head coach of football, baseball, basketball both girls and boys and track with no assistants. I realized quickly in a small school staff had to wear a lot of hats!”

“My duties at Simpsonville High was to teach Phys Ed and be the coach.” Moody remarked, “As you can probably tell I enjoyed every aspect of it. Simpsonville High School was a small school in a Class B division and our schedule had us in a district of similar size schools. In football, Mauldin did not have a team, but we did have to play Fountain Inn which was one of our rivals. In my first two years we had some good football teams. We played teams like Taylors, Slater, Westminster Paris, Travelers rest, Palmetto, Ford, Liberty, Boiling Springs and always a tough game against Woodruff. In one of those early years we went to the playoff finals and lost to Foothills 51-39, we couldn’t stop them, and they couldn’t stop us. What a game!”

“Coaching all the sports and Simpsonville high school kept me busy. It was truly a labor of love!”

“When it was decided that Simpsonville, Mauldin and Fountain Inn were to merge into one school several challenges arose. How are we going to blend three rival schools into one? Classroom assignments were one challenge, but my interest was how we were going to merge sports teams.” Moody said with concern.

“My assignment at Hillcrest High School was to be the Physical Education teacher, athletic director and football and baseball coach. We had good participation in most of the sports first couple years. I remember it was difficult to recruit students to play football. We would encourage current players to recruit students to join our team. With our student population we were pushed into a higher bracket AA and faced a lot of competition. Needless to say, we had some tough seasons in football.”, recalled Moody. “In my first year at Hillcrest, the girls’ basketball team won the state tournament under coach Jean Ludlum in their inaugural season!”

“The just completed new school had its own challenges. I remember the road into the school from Main Street was not paved. School buses used to get stuck in the mud on rainy days and students had to be excused for tardiness. When we moved in that first semester, the new school wasn’t finished. The gym floor wasn’t in and it was challenging to teach Physical Education around the construction.”, Moody said with a grin.

“All in all, the faculty and staff overcame the challenges they faced, and students from different parts of the county merged into one fantastic high school. Hillcrest High School celebrates over 60 years of excellence. I was proud to be a part of its heritage!” Moody proclaimed.

By: Sybil Todd & Bill Moody

Editor’s note:

I think we succeeded in our goal to recognize the old Simpsonville High School and a few moments of the transition to the new Hillcrest High School. These two great educators went on to share their talents with many students and athletes at Hillcrest High School.

It was a pleasure and an honor to have learned so much of their careers and to become their friends. Connie was a student of Miss Sybil Martin at Hillcrest and always spoke highly of her as a special and caring teacher. Bill became a friend after we did an article about him having his ninth hole in one at the age of 90 and we played golf together! It was a great experience! He still regularly plays golf and shoots in the 70s.

This article and some past archived articles can be found @ https://www.sentinelinternet.com. Enjoy!

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