History of Anderson High School
by Andy Wolf
In many ways, the thing that has separated Anderson Township from many other parts of Greater Cincinnati has been the willingness of our residents to think boldly about the future of our children. Our history has been one of “thoughtful risk-taking.” Our township has always been willing to bet on the next generation. The results have always been “excellence.” This is how it happened . . .
In 1927, the residents of Anderson Township passed a $165,000 bond issue to consolidate eight of twelve local, rural, one-room schoolhouses and build an Anderson Township School. The last remaining of those one-room schoolhouses is today’s popular Clough Crossings restaurant. The original school board of Edwin Hawkins, Elbert Bogart, Restorer Ayer, Edward Sutter, and William Judd purchased nine acres known as the Markley Estates at the corner of Forest Road and Beechmont Avenue. The new school (K through 12), designed by Walter Norwick and built by the Howard Construction Company, opened its doors to about 525 students in 1929. Robert Wright was the first Principal. He served as principal or Superintendent until 1952. Florence Bath served as principal, then Dean of Girls from 1929 until 1942. J. Garner Srofe became principal in 1940.
The nickname for the new Anderson Township school was the Comets. The orange and black school colors were chosen because many of the students had attended Withrow H.S. and its colors were orange and black. The nickname changed to the Redskins for the 1936-37 school year; this decision was probably influenced by the faculty, many of whom were Miami University alumni. The school colors remained orange and black because the cost of adopting new colors was prohibitive in these Great Depression years. It was not until 1965, however, that the student newspaper The Lantern, was renamed the Chieftain.
In 1933 a new cafeteria was added and a library was created as the school began to face its first overcrowding crisis. Anderson Township was growing! In 1947 another bond issue was passed to add an adjoining classroom building…the Anderson Junior High School. The designers thought space heaters would be a good, cost saving, substitute for a furnace in this building, but during the winter the students had to be moved to the auditorium to keep warm. Cutting corners rarely works. Today, this building (with better heating ) serves as the district Administration Building. Many of our athletic teams financed their seasons by collecting and re-cycling used batteries from cars, trucks, and farm tractors. In 1949, a new two-story brick high school addition opened its doors to the older students.
After WWII, Richard Herron, a no-nonsense war hardened veteran, returned as assistant principal and track coach. Mr. Herron’s job was to restore discipline to the boys who had become “a bit rambunctious” during the years when all of the male teachers were away at war. Mr. Herron was very successful . . . and well respected for his efforts.
The 1950s was a decade of big changes. Mr. Wright retired as superintendent. Charles Taylor was principal for two years. In 1955, E. Wayne Titus took over as principal and stayed until 1971 (the auditorium is named after this fine man). Mr. Titus and his wife were known for dancing loops around the cafeteria while chaperoning high school dances. He kept a vigilant eye on everyone! One look from Mr. Titus and any young couple would immediately separate by an arm’s length…at least until he and Mrs. Titus danced out of sight. During the 50s a gym, locker rooms, shop classes, and many classrooms were added; the cafeteria was also enlarged. The biggest change came when it was decided that one, big central school just was not enough. Wilson Elementary was added in 1959-60.
Anderson Township was booming. The old school was just not big enough. In 1959 the residents passed a $1.8 million dollar bond issue to build an entirely new high school on Forest Road. The first phase of the building consisted of the classrooms, offices, cafeteria, and library. The second phase brought forth the gym, auditorium, swimming pool, locker rooms, and maintenance areas. The new high school (the current Anderson High School) opened its doors in the fall of 1961.
At the lower grades, enrollment was changing as well. During the late 1960s and early 1970s four more elementary schools were built. In 1970 the junior high became Anderson Middle School. Overcrowding at the middle school and high school was again becoming a big concern. Also in 1970, a new, 16 classroom addition was added to the north end of Anderson High School. Chris Stefan became principal in 1971. The graduating classes became too large for ceremonies at the school so in 1972 graduation was moved to Music Hall. The opening of the Great Oaks Vocational Schools helped alleviate the over-crowding to a small degree. Anderson saw its largest graduating class in 1977. The opening of Turpin Middle School and Turpin High School solved the overcrowding problem in 1977. The population growth continued as people sought out homes in Anderson Township because of the good schools. Once again, overcrowding led to the construction of Nagel Middle School, which opened in the fall of 1999. After Nagel opened, Anderson High School went from being a 7 through 12 to a 9 through 12 building.
The original Anderson Township school building (on Beechmont) celebrated its 50th year in 1979. This spawned the idea to hold a huge reunion of all 50 classes. That event, in June of 1980, was a huge success. The all-school reunion happened again for the 60th and 65th anniversaries as well. The Anderson Middle School was closed in 1982 and became the H.D. West Community center. Mr. West was our well-respected Superintendent for many years. Bill Harris became the AHS principal in 1985. In 1986 the H.D. West Building was sold to private investors, was ultimately torn down and became a Kroger’s store. In 1988 Kroger was a great corporate neighbor and made a very generous donation to get the all-weather track project started at Anderson High School. The biggest fund raising effort in school history completed the project.
This was a good era for our athletes. David Wilson (AHS ’80 ) set four national high school records and went on to win a silver and a gold in swimming at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Rich Dotson (AHS ’77) was 4th in the voting for the 1983 American League Cy Young Award. Shawn Proffitt won a national championship on the track in the steeplechase in 1988.
Anderson High School was thrust into the national spotlight as a leader in the fight against drug and alcohol abuse. Mike Hall, who became principal in 1986, developed a very straightforward and successful program for facing these tough issues. His program was adopted for national use by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Agency. In 1991, President George Bush honored Mr. Hall and Anderson High School for his leadership on this important issue.
Anderson High School has continued its success in recent years. In 2004, Diana Carter became principal. On the athletic fields, Chelsea Homan (cross country) and Anita Beck (swimming) captured state championships and All-American honors. Jensen Lewis won the Ohio Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year Award in 2002 and now pitches for the Cleveland Indians. The football team, under Coach Jeff Giesting, captured the State Championship in 2007. The school is just as vibrant in the fine arts. The music and drama departments continue to offer excellent performances throughout each school year. The Forest Hills School District has a string of eleven consecutive years with the State of Ohio’s highest academic rating.
In 2012, Mike Broadwater became principal and the Anderson Alumni Association was formed, when Mr. Broadwater became assistant superintendent for the Forest Hills School District in 2015, Mike Overbey became principal and in the fall of 2017, Rob Fellows took the helm.
The continuance of excellence in the future, as always, remains in the hands of an eager student body, a highly motivated faculty and administration, and a supportive community.