Greenville, South Carolina Historical Schools List


Golden Tornado

Greenville, SC

History Of Parker High School

    ". . . . in a former mill community, mill owners led by Thomas Parker conceived a plan to create a school district that would include a new high school to address unmet needs.  They received a charter from the state and combined seven mill villages in the Parker Unified School District.  It was funded by taxes the mills leveraged against themselves.
    Before long it was the best funded school district in the state.  The owners recruited L.P. "Pete" Hollis, a local YMCA director, to be the school district's first superintendent.  Hollis, who was known for his innovative nature, latched onto the philosophy of American education guru John Dewey that emphasized learning by doing.
    Soon, what had begun as a simple vocational school for mill kids grew into a national laboratory for testing Dewey's theories about education.  Parker was written up in national publications and classes were often interrupted by visitors from around the world who came there to observe.  A.V. Huff, Greenville historian, says Parker was one of the first schools to sponsor science fairs and field trips that have become the norm in American education.
     Leo Hill, a 1944 Parker graduate and former president of the student body, recalls that the student government was modeled after the three branches of the federal government.  In addition to a president, there was a senate, house and court system.  Students made the rules and enforced them.  It was a grand way of teaching civics." (Gary Hyndman, The Greenville Journal, September 10-16, 2004)

Dr. L.P."Pete" Hollis worked diligently with the owners of textile plants located in Greenville, South Carolina's west side.  During the 1920's, textile plants like: Dunean, Woodside, F.W. Poe, Union Bleachery, Brandon, Poinsett, American Spinning, Judson and Monaghan, employed over 5,000 people who lived (mostly) on each mill's respective "Mill Village".  Since each mill village had their own elementary schools, clinics, company stores and recreation facilities, a need for a high school was vitally important.

The school was named after Thomas F. Parker, the first President of Monaghan Mills.  When the school opened it's doors, 454 children were enrolled in the first classes of Parker High School in 1923.  From 1924 till 1933, only 256 students actually graduated from the 11th grade.  In the fall of 1948, a 12th grade was added to all high schools in South Carolina.  There was not a graduating class in 1949.

During the 64 years that Parker was a high school, more than 34,500 students graduated from this location.  Dr. L.P. Hollis was the driving force that brought the idea of a high school in Greenville's textile district to reality. .

Alma Mater
Midst the hum of her industries,
As the beacon's beaming light,
To her Children's best endeavors
Parker High School lends her might.
In honor, truth, and wisdom
She her highest ideals hold,
And makes us ever loyal
To the Purple and the Gold.

When duty calls us onward,
Achievement's goal to find,
Parker ties will ne'er be broken,
Still her sheltering arms entwine.
And across the distant spaces
Tales of fame and prowess bold,
Will reflect the Parker Spirit
And the Purple and the Gold.

Dr. L.P. Hollis was responsible for the
successful beginning of Parker High and
was a part of this institution for 48+ years.
He began his career in the Parker School
District in 1923 as Superintendent.  He was
a far-seeing man with those sterling qualities
that made him an inspiration to those with
whom he came in contact.  He set many a
student on the road to success.  His untiring
devotion to the people of his community made
life easier and more enjoyable for them.

When Parker was founded, industrial arts played an important part in both the vocational and college programs.  The Textile Department brought many graduates to the textile plants of Greenville.  The cosmetology courses at Parker opened the doors for many young women and men in that vocation.  The electrical and woodworking departments trained students for architecture and electrical engineering classes in college.  The machine shop grads worked in local and military jobs and were ready for engineering classes at college.

.Click Here
"The Parker High School Band was a winner of numerous national, state and local awards.
The band won an overall state competition and won our division numerous times.  We
played EXPO 67 in Montreal, the 1969 New York World's Fair, played for President Nixon
(who gave Mr. Senn a letter of appreciation and a flag that had flown over the White House),
and we won almost every Christmas parade entered." - Jim Boling (email 1/18/2005)
Click Photo for direct link to the Parker High Band Web Page.  If you have an
Internet "popup" blocker hold the "ctl" key down to access the Band Web Page.

    In 1971, Parker High School became racially integrated.  Many projects, surveys, and special elections were organized to form bi-racial committees to discuss problems and solutions.  Due to genuine concern, communication channels were opened with determination to have community racial harmony.
    Parker High School received the honor of being placed in the Top Ten High Schools Scholastically in America in 1955, 1957, 1960, 1966 and 1971 by the National Education Association.  To date, Parker High School is the only South Carolina high school to have achieved this status five times.
The Parker High School Auditorium is a 7,500 square foot structure constructed in 1938 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) . It cost $50,000 to build and was part of a $285,000 building project for the school. On October 9, 2000 it was placed on the National Register of Historic places.

An alumni sponsored Parker High web site can be found at:

and Parker High School information can also be found at "Our Upstate Ancestory"

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