Will Sullivan County's new high school be a homecoming of sorts?

Rick Wagner • May 28, 2018 at 3:45 PM

Everything old is new again.

That was the title of a 1974 song and, in a way, describes what is happening now in two Sullivan County high school zones.

Sullivan Central High School opened in the fall of 1968. It was a consolidation of existing county schools, Blountville and Holston high schools.

Sullivan East High, also opened in 1968, was a merger of Bluff City, Mary Hughes and Holston Valley high schools.

Then in 1980, the county school system completed two new high schools: Sullivan North in Bloomingdale and Sullivan South in Colonial Heights. North was the merger of Lynn View and Ketron , while South was a merger of all of Sullivan West and a portion of Sullivan Central.

That’s right, as reader Janet Novak recently pointed out in an email, South was formed, in part, by siphoning off students from Central and adding some from Sullivan West. Some students who had been comrades became rivals.

Here and now

Fast forward to earlier this month, and the county school system ceremoniously broke ground on West Ridge High School off Lynn Road. It will be home to the Wolves. If the plans all work out, most of those Central students will be reunited in the fall of 2020 with the South zone and the North zone.

“I believe you missed a great opportunity to discuss school history. With the groundbreaking of West Ridge High School and the uproar in the community, I see this as a great opportunity to educate the community to the story behind Sullivan South High School and its heritage,” Novak wrote in an email the day after a May 8 Tuesday Trivia story was published about Sullivan/Sullivan West High.

Novak graduated from Central in 1985, and her sister was in the first South graduating class in 1981. Her son will be a junior in 2020, when West Ridge is to open.

“So many in the community are in such distress over how the South community will be torn apart and their beloved alma mater will be made into a middle school, which by the way, is much needed for that community,” Novak wrote.

South is to become a middle school and be the combination of Colonial Heights Middle and the old Sullivan West High, both in poor condition.

“I am shocked to actually hear so many that have no idea that Sullivan South opened with their first graduating class of 1981 and prior to that those students attended Sullivan Central High School. These students drove the interstate daily and survived just fine,” Novak wrote.

“The outrage that this community has for tearing their community apart is actually the joining of these two schools once again. If any community should understand this more than any other it would be the Central community who actually had to live through this in 1980 when students that had gone to school together were then divided and became rivals,” Novak said. “I see an opportunity for the Kingsport Times News to actually turn this story into a positive as a community isn’t being ripped apart but reunited with its actual heritage.”

With all of the controversy about the new school, and more recently construction of a road to provide better access to it, Novak says folks forget that Central was and is adjacent to an interstate and that what once was split is about to be reunited some 50 years later.