Cary’s Heritage

Cary’s Heritage: Green Hope High School has deep roots

June 16, 2014 

Seniors toss their caps in the air after the Green Hope High School graduation ceremony in the Raleigh Convention Center on June 7. The original Green Hope school was built in the 1920s and burned down in 1963.

CASEY TOTH — newsobserver.com Buy Photo

Today, Green Hope High School is one of several local schools that enrolls Cary students. Green Hope High opened in 1999 in western Cary, but its roots date back nearly a century.

The original Green Hope High School was built in the 1920s in the Carpenter/Green Level area. The school burned down in the summer of 1963. Here, two alumni recall the school.

Michael Edwards: I started school in the first grade at the old Green Hope Elementary School. It was a typical two-story brick structure: radiators, coal-fire furnace, cafeteria in the basement, big auditorium, a gym, baseball field, football field, and (agriculture) building – a very nice facility.

When it was built, ours was a pretty vibrant farming community. The second floor had been the high school. As the farming populations decreased by the early ’50s, the county decided to send the high school students to Apex High. So we elementary kids were only on the first floor of the big school, with the second floor empty and the football field, gym and ag building unused.

The school was for just farm kids from the immediate community. We were very isolated.

Then there were rumors that the county wanted to close Green Hope Elementary School. The community was up in arms. There was still a lot of pride with that school. They had a trophy case that was full of trophies.

So most of the classrooms were consolidated into two different grades. In the first grade I had Mrs. Pendergraph. Mrs. Adams from Cary taught both second and part of the third grade in the same classroom. The other part of third grade and fourth grade were taught by Cora Hilliard. The fifth grade was taught by my aunt, Blanche Edwards. She was also the principal. The sixth and half of the seventh grade were taught by Mrs. Yates. Part of the seventh and the eighth grade were taught by Mrs. Eatman.

Of course it was all white kids, no African-American kids. They all went to the Apex Consolidated School on the other side of Apex. I went to Green Hope Elementary School from 1955 to 1963.

I was getting ready to go to Apex High School in the fall, with city kids for the first time – wow. That summer, we saw a big fire off in the distance. It was the Green Hope School burning down, in August of 1963.

Raymond Johnson: I attended the old Green Hope High School, from first through the 11th grade and graduated in 1945. The next year all the high schools in North Carolina went through the 12th grade.

It was just a country school, and there were not enough people in the area to support a school, so shortly after I graduated they carried all the high school students to Apex High, and Green Hope became just an elementary school.

My widowed mother used to board the teachers that taught at that school. They paid her and she fed them their meals.

Years later, Omer Ferrell sold land to the county for the new Green Hope High and Elementary School with the understanding that they would name the schools Green Hope after the old school that he had attended. Every year the alumni of the old school get together at the new high school for a reunion.

Cary’s Heritage is taken from the book “Just a Horse-Stopping Place, an Oral History of Cary, North Carolina,” first published in August 2006. The book is a collection of oral history interviews conducted between local citizens and Friends of the Page-Walker Hotel.

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