Tuesday, May 15, 2001

Southgate school marks 100th year

By Ray Schaefer
Enquirer Contributor

        SOUTHGATE — Harold Smith remembers when Southgate Independent Schools consisted of a single building.

The original Southgate School.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
| ZOOM |
        Mr. Smith, 92, will be among the oldest graduates at Saturday's 100th anniversary celebration. He is a 1922 alumnus who still comes to the school to vote, and he notices the changes.

        “The town has grown and so has the school,” Mr. Smith said. “It was not like it is now.”

        Southgate Independent — home to 200 students in preschool through eighth grade — is still the smallest school district in Kentucky. Graduates have their choice of five public high schools: Highlands, Newport, Campbell County, Bellevue or Dayton.

        Southgate alumni include Mr. Smith's son, Pikeville College President Hal Smith.

        “It was a wonderful start,” said the younger Mr. Smith, 59. “The smallness and the personal attention, it was a tremendous foundation.”

  What: Southgate Independent Schools 100th Anniversary Reunion
  When: 4 p.m. Saturday
  Where: Southgate School, corner of William Blatt and Evergreen avenues.
  Cost: $10 for adults, $5 for students.
  What you should know: Proceeds benefit the Southgate Educational Foundation, which helps fund school programs.
  Information: (859) 441-0743.
        The first classes opened in 1901 in a one-room frame structure on the southwest corner of William Blatt and Evergreen avenues. The first brick building replaced it in 1903; another was added in 1930 and the third in 1995.

        All three buildings are connected now. Mr. Smith's daughter, Margaret Doyle, who graduated from Southgate in 1958, remembers when the first two were not.

        “If you were in the first three grades, you had to put on your coat and walk outside to the lunchroom, which was in the big building,” said Mrs. Doyle, 56, of West Chester Township. “Classrooms were small.”

        There are nine classrooms now, and Superintendent Curtis Hall said the student-teacher ratio is about 17 to 1.

        “The kids that come here typically stay here,” said Mr. Hall, whose father, Angelo, was a former superintendent. “Being so small, we truly are a community school.”

        And small size and individual attention have helped in the classroom.

        “Teachers were all very nice,” Mr. Smith said.

        Mr. Hall said Southgate received state money in 1994 and 1996 for meeting state achievement goals.

        Pauline Venneman, a 1951 Southgate graduate, is treasurer of the Southgate Educational Foundation, the year-old organization sponsoring the reunion. She said proceeds from the reunion and accompanying spaghetti dinner will help buy computers and software.

        And the elder Mr. Smith thinks the school will last at least another 100 years.

        “I see no reason why it wouldn't keep going,” Mr. Smith said. “There are no plans to close the city.”


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