SWJCS: A History


Chris Smith

Lauren Ross, Writer




Southwestern High School has been around for a long time and is almost older than dirt. It’s had numerous principals over the years who we’ve come to love, such as our current, Mr. Matt Owens. The most well-known principal is Delbert O’ King, who attended Hanover High School. All who had the pleasure of meeting Mr. King will tell you that he was one of the most caring, compassionate people they’ve ever known. Fun fact: as a tribute, our gymnasium has been named the Delbert O’ King Gymnasium to honor his commitment to our school.



Before Southwestern became a consolidated school, Hanover High School and Saluda High School were two separate schools on opposite sides of town. Saluda High School was represented by the Lions, while Hanover Schools were represented by the Bulldogs. 


At the time, Saluda had a very strong athletic program as well as an exceptional academic one. Part of this has to do with their smaller class sizes and the funding they had. At one point, the school didn’t even have an indoor gymnasium! Hanover College opened its doors to Saluda High School and allowed them to use their gymnasium for basketball practices. Because of cultural norms at the time, they had a stricter dress code than we do today. Girls were required to wear dresses, while the boys wore overalls or a dress shirt and slacks. If you would like more information on the history of Saluda High School, please visit http://saludaalumni.com/.


Eight minutes away from Saluda High School were Hanover Schools. Founded sometime in the early 1920s, it has one of the most unknown histories of all the local schools. Originally, students attended school at the Little Red Schoolhouse, which is now the present-day fire station on Main Street. (Murray 82). Originally, one building served students in grades first through eighth while another building, located on the Hanover College campus, served as the high school. A gymnasium was built in 1952 with a new elementary school in 1961. Hanover High School offered its students a couple of extracurricular activities, such as membership in the Hanover Junior Orchestra


Interestingly enough, according to William McKee Dunn who attended it in the 1820s, Hanover’s first school was “a rough cabin built of split logs slid edgewise [with] an immense chimney at each end.” (Murray 77). Unfortunately, no images of the first school have been preserved.



Many people were furious that the two schools would become one. Several citizens of the Saluda township expressed their anger by protesting. They felt that the new school district was trying to erase history. Even though some protested, the two schools consolidated in 1959 to form Southwestern.

If you would like to see a collection of historic photographs of the schools mentioned, please click here.