Grimsley High School - History


Established in 1899, Grimsley is the oldest institution of public secondary education in Greensboro and and one of the oldest high schools in the state. (Asheville High School, High Point Central High School, and New Hanover High School in Wilmington are all older.)

GHS was founded in 1899 as Greensboro High School; it became Greensboro Central High School in 1911 and Greensboro Senior High School in 1929 (when it moved to its current campus, after previously having had two locations in downtown Greensboro). In 1962, against the wishes of the school, it was renamed Grimsley Senior High School in honor of George Adonijah Grimsley, the superintendent of Greensboro's schools (1890–1902) who fostered the creation of GHS in 1899.

Upon its creation in the fall of 1899, Greensboro High School was located on North Forbis Street in a former Catholic Church building, on part of the site of the current Greensboro Public Library, behind the Greensboro Historical Museum. By 1910, this building was outgrown, so for one year (1910–1911) GHS was moved next door to the Lindsay Street Grammar School. In the fall of 1911, the school moved to the site of today's Weaver Academy, where it became Greensboro Central High School, and where it remained until 1929. In the fall of 1929, GHS moved to its current Westover Terrace location, when it became Greensboro Senior High School. See "facilities" section below for a description of the current campus.

In 1934, as part of the New Deal's Civil Works Administration (CWA), two large murals were painted in the GHS auditorium by Raleigh artist James A. McLean: "Energy" and "Education."

The school's original colors were purple and gold (circa 1909–10). Because of increasing difficulty in finding matching shades of purple for athletic and band uniforms, the colors were changed—by vote of the student body in March 1951—to navy blue and white.

The mascot was originally the "Purple Whirlwind," adopted in 1921. Local papers, in an attempt to have variety when referring to GHS's teams (and to save space in headlines) came up with the name "Whirlies" in 1941. (Other variations of "Purple Whirlwinds" had been used back to the 1930s.) The name "Whirlies" caught on quickly and was used interchangeably with "Purple Whirlwinds" until the color change in 1951, leaving the original mascot name as "Whirlwinds." Since the late 1950s, "Whirlies" has been used almost exclusively.

While the whirlwind was the mascot beginning in 1921, in 1956—and originating as the theme of the Whirligig yearbook that year—the Whirlibird mascot appeared, becoming instantly popular. It became the main mascot for the school, lasting until the early 1980s, when the whirlwind re-emerged as GHS's mascot.

Grimsley's alma mater was composed and written by Herbert Hazelman in 1949. Mr. Hazelman was the Greensboro Senior High Band Director for 40 years. The music building is now named in his honor.

In 1958, Josephine Boyd became the first black student to graduate from Greensboro Senior High School. GHS was the first formerly all-white high school in the state of North Carolina to have an African-American to graduate.

Advanced Placement (AP) classes were first offered at Grimsley in 1966. In the fall of 1995, Grimsley became the first school in Guilford County and only the fourth school in North Carolina to offer the prestigious International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme.

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