Principal Jefferson Grigsby was head of the school for nearly 30 years.
The year was 1923 and no longer would blacks have to attend church schools or leave town to complete a high school education. At the beginning of the school year in 1923, teachers and students moved from Myers Street School to the new building located on the corner of Alexander and First Streets. William H. Stinson, having served as principal of Myers Street , became the first principal of the new high school. He held the position from 1923 to 1931. Jefferson E. Grigsby
who served as principal for 28 years followed him. Two other persons served as principals, Dr. Spencer E. Durante and Dr. Elbert E. Waddell. There were four assistant principals, Dr. Edward H. Brown, Dr. W. Howard Mooreland, Robert E. Woods, and Ernest H. Stanback. During the first
years, the school was a combination junior and senior high school with curriculum emphasis placed on academic and vocational courses. By the end of 1966, Second Ward High School had an enrollment of over 1500 students. The faculty increased to 125 teachers and the curriculum offerings expanded to 98 courses. Students were recognized for academic and vocational achievements and many became members of the National Honor Society. Second Ward was an accredited high school by Southern Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges. The 1969 commencement was to be the last for Second Ward High School. The school was closed and torn down as part of Charlotte’s urban renewal effort. (Information provided by Second Ward High School Foundation Post Office Box 16514 Charlotte, NC 28297 United States ph: 704-398-8333 fax: 704-398-4416)
Second Ward High School
West Charlotte High School was founded in 1938 and had a sprawling campus with different buildings soon after. During the next three decades, the school became the pride of the community and students won statewide competitions, with a strong connection between students and parents. Beginning in the late 1960s, Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education ruled that cities had to desegregate their schools through busing, which created riots at many schools in the district, including at the school, as
students from West Mecklenburg, Harding, Garinger, North Mecklenburg and Myers Park were bused to the school, starting in the fall of1970. Over time though, the school became nationally-recognized as a model for student integration, with students and teachers coming from as far as Boston to view the success of the school. For the next twenty of years, the school remained integrated until a series of court decisions stated that integration in Charlotte was a success and that busing was no longer needed.
York Road High School
The first York Road student body met in September 1955. The school plant had not been completed. Classes for York Road Junior High School were held from 12:00 noon until 4:00 pm; using facilities at Marie G. Davis Elementary School.
Early in 1956, the York Road faculty and student body were able to move into their new school, which at that time included the Administration Building, Vocational Building, two classroom buildings (B and C), and the gymnasium. The ensuing year saw York Road grow tremendously in terms of number of students, administrators, faculty, educational opportunities, and facilities. By 1959, York Road had grown from a Junior High School into a Junior-Senior High School. The school’s enrollment increased from 355 in 1955 to more than 1000 in 1965. By 1965, the faculty grew in size from 19 to 52. A new classroom building (D) and a cafeteria were also added to the campus.
York Road students have gained considerable recognition in sports, music, academic achievement, and many other fields. The school has had several championship basketball teams, outstanding track and field teams and winning baseball teams. In 1960 the first football team was organized. In 1964 the Wapiti track team became the North Carolina Athletic Association Champions. As a result of the outstanding performances of the chorus and band, the student body, faculty and Parent teacher Association joined in an all-out campaign, which resulted in the purchase of new chorus robes and band uniforms. The band and chorus have bought us considerable prestige through their outstanding performances.
We take great pride in our expanding academic program, which in 1959, resulted in York Road being accredited by the Stated Department of Education. In 1962, the school was accredited by the Southern Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges. This enabled many students to compete successfully for State and National Awards. Upon the basis of their academic achievement, York Road graduates received scholarships to some of our leading colleges and universities.
In the Spring of 1966, the decision was made to close the senior high department of the school. Mere words cannot express the feelings experienced by the students, faculty and parents. The dream of moving into a fully equipped senior high school would never be realized.
It was proper and fitting that York Road’s last year as a junior-senior high school should be its finest. In every endeavor, York Road was well represented. All departments in the school had a very successful year. All departments in the school had a very successful year. Graduating seniors received more scholarships than any other graduating class in school’s history, and many organizations and individual students were recognized for their achievements.
At the end of the 1965-66 school year, faculty members in the senior high department were reassigned to other schools in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg system. Of the original faculty, only a few remained. In the fall of 1966, York Road reverted to being an accredited Junior High School. The administration, faculty and student body vowed to continue the great traditions which had been started.
Thus our alma mater is no less stirring and the Wapiti, the victory bell, and the orange and navy blue are no less symbolic, we yielded to progress --- progress in the field of desegregation, which altered our ambition. Progress, a force which drastically changed our lives, will be our watchword for the future.
Addendum (1968): Since its inception in 1955, many citizens who live in the York Road community expressed the opinion that because of the geographical location of the school, its original name is really a misnomer and that the name of the school should be changed.
On June 25, 1968, a committee composed of the principal and other representatives of the student council, PTA, School Advisory Board, and faculty met to discuss and recommend names to the Board of Education to consider renaming York Road High School. The name was later changed to John F. Kennedy Junior High School.