Science Hill Class of ’66 to honor first black coach during reunion

Science Hill High School

JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – In 1965 Science Hill became the first high school in the Tri-Cities to fully integrate its schools.

This Friday, the Science Hill Class of 1966 (the first integrated class to graduate from the high school) will gather for their 50th anniversary.

During  the celebration, current students and alumni will unveil a memorial to honor Science Hill’s first black coach, Paul Christman.

“The column is being built with bricks from Langston (High School) and it will have a limestone cap stone and a football helmet on top,” said Science Hill High School Class of ’66 Graduate Joni Perkins Cannon.

The ceremony will take place right before Science Hill’s home football game Friday September 23, 2016 at 7:15 pm.

Members of the ’66 class plan on meeting several hours before, to reflect on their first year, and first day together.

“For us it was just starting the year and it was our senior year. And I think a lot of us were pretty naïve about what was going on with our new classmates especially,” said Cannon

A few blocks down the road, at Langston High School, the black school, students had a much different experience that very first day.

“We actually reported to Langston for the first day of school and saw several yellow school buses in front of the school and were told by a principal that we were going to be bused to Science Hill,” said Science Hill High School class of ’66 Graduate Dorothy Conley Dobbins.

Another graduate, Eugene Gillespie, an athlete who went to Langston High School  from 7th to 11th grade, remembers the big role that sports played in his transition to his new school.

“We came in 1965, and that first football team went undefeated for the first time in 33 years,” said Gillespie.

Gillespie said Coach Christman helped coach that undefeated team.

The reunion will end with a tour of the school on Saturday September 24th.


Copyright 2016 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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