Newport News High School
3100 Huntington Avenue, Newport News, VA 23607


1929 Beacon (yearbook)



Courtesy of Dave Spriggs of VA - 07/15/03
Thanks, Dave!
Courtesy of Dave Spriggs of VA - 08/20/04
WOWZERS!!!  Thanks, Dave!
Courtesy of Dave Spriggs of VA - 05/14/03
Thanks, Dave!

"In 1922, Charles M. Robinson, a Richmond architect, was awarded the contract to design a new high school to be built in the heart of Newport News.  The resulting three-story structure, erected on the site of the former turn-of-the-century livery stables and later a U.S. Army Camp, was completed in 1923 and named Newport News High School.  The contracting firm of Harwood and Moss performed the construction.  Two-story pilasters and Corinthian columns rising from the first floor give the impression of two stories built above a raised basement.  The original structure contained 57 rooms and could accommodate 990 students.  Seven years later, two wings were added on the north and south, as were additional classrooms on the building's east side.  The additions were more modest but in keeping with the style of the original construction.  In 1935, the Joseph H. Saunders Stadium was dedicated on the adjacent easterly property.  Williams, Coile, and Pipino, the designers of the stadium which included classroom space beneath, later designed further additions to the school building itself.  A fire in (1954) caused nearly one-half million dollars in damage to the structure.  As a result, the auditorium was redesigned and the cafeteria moved to a new wing.  1963 saw the addition of a new gymnasium across 30th Street from the school.  In 1971, citywide changes in the distribution of students and the addition of newer facilities elsewhere in the City brought about the change of Newport News High School to Newport News Intermediate School, serving only 8th and 9th grade students.  On June 12, 1980, the school was officially closed.  The structure remains today as a reminder of the 57 years it served as one the area's finest public schools and as a tribute to its thousands of graduates, many of whom have become prominent citizens of Newport News."

- Department of Planning and Development, 1996

This information contained on the numbered lithographs commissioned in 1996,
courtesy of Jimmy Parker ('62) of VA - 10/27/00
Thanks, Jimmy!  (added 05/20/04 - better late than never!)

1955 Anchor, p.3 1955 Anchor, p. 50 1955 Anchor, p. 51 1955 Anchor, p. 76 1955 Anchor, p.62
05/20/04 05/20/04 05/20/04 05/20/04 05/20/04
1957 Anchor, p.4 1958 Anchor, p.4 1962 Anchor 1963 Anchor, p. 86 1964 Anchor, p. 11
05/20/04 05/20/04 11/19/03 05/20/04 05/20/04
Probably Thursday, June 3, 1965   1969 1970
Image by Chip Clark ('65) of Northern VA
Thanks, Chip!
  Courtesy of Tim Parsons ('73) of VA - 10/17/04
Thanks, Tim!


Huntington Hall

Saturday, October 28, 2000

Now used by the U.S. Navy and renamed Huntington Hall,
the old school now serves as a Bachelors Enlisted Quarters. 
It also houses a USO:

- Carol Buckley Harty of NC - 05/06/03

Saturday, October 28, 2000

Julie Conn Gym
  My father took me to most of the games of the state
championship season in 1964
. We were at the Deep Creek
game that Newport News won 126-35 in the Julie Conn Gym.
I played in the old YMCA church league and we practiced
in the gym in the basement of the Y. What a great gym and
it had a distinctive odor of it's own. We would practice there
on Saturdays and then get Krispy Kreme donuts at the drive
thru in Hilton after practice. I remember at our league banquet when Chris Ellis ('64) and Jimmy Rama ('64) spoke and later gave autographs. Coach Mitchell was also there and that team was the toast of the town. Dad would take us to the Turkey Day game every year and I guess we went to just about every game from 1961 to the final game, which I have on a home movie.
  - Tim Parsons ('73) of VA - 10/17/04
Thanks, Tim!

Images taken
Mother's Day, Sunday, May 12, 2003:

Julie Conn Gym:  A sad sight, isn't it?  As I was setting up the shot, a thunderstorm was blowing up. Winds were gusting, dark clouds were rolling. And then it occurred to me that this was Julie, seeing that someone still remembered, someone still cared ... rumbling behind me much like he did in life.  For a moment, I could feel him standing behind me, temper rising,
that white spittle forming at the corners of his mouth when he became angry. I could hear that combination gravelly, yet
almost whiney, voice screaming, "C'mon, Spriggs, you slacker,
take the damn picture before you get struck by lightning!!" 
And, with that same motivation I felt so many years ago,
I snapped it and raced back to my car. 

It never did rain; just like Julie: lots of noise, but he would
never really hurt you.
Julie Conn Gym

Your stock shot
of the front facade.

Old Gym 

No real comments here;
It just seemed like a necessary shot to show the old gym and
the cafeteria.
We spent a lot of time outside those doors just "hanging".


Just a nostalgia shot
of our once-glorious
Saunders Stadium.


Stadium Ticket Gate: 

Another place where we spent some time, either entering on crisp Fall Friday nights for football games or just going in to class each morning.

Images by Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 05/13/03
Thanks, Dave!

Friday, September 26, 2003

Friday, November 14, 2003 Friday, November 14, 2003
Image by Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 09/26/03
Thanks, Dave!
Image by Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 11/04/03
Thanks, Dave!
Image by Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 11/14/03
Thanks, Dave!
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Images by Chip Clark ('65) of Northern VA - 11/02/05
Thanks, Chip!

Saunders Stadium
These four incredible images,
taken Sunday, August 8, 2004,
are courtesy
of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA
and his Wonder Camera - 08/08/04
WOWZERS!!!  Thank you so much, Dave!
These are so real they brought tears to my eye!
... there was a link to NNHS.
Well, that one did it, Carol. Thatís where I stopped. Having attended many high school graduations as an
assistant principal, I recognized the introduction to Pomp and Circumstance right away. I sat and listened
while I looked at the images of our old high school. As the introduction gave way to the familiar strains

at which the graduates begin their procession, I was awash in memories. I went back years in my mind and
saw the Class of
Ď59 lined up in the hall outside the auditorium. And there was Dorothy Crane, the drama
making sure that we were all in step. She stood in the hall by the entrance to the auditorium,
sweeping her hand in a huge arc
to keep us in step as she called out, left, right, left, right her voice
emphasizing the word left,
to make sure we all stepped forward at the same time on the correct foot. The effect
was that as the line moved up the ramp into the auditorium and down the incline to our seats, every single
tassel swayed in the same direction at the same time.
We all swayed gently to the left, then gently to the right.
Not being especially graceful nor having a good sense of rhythm, I had to watch the student in front of me. I
kept my eyes on that foot in front of me to make sure I was putting the same one forward at the same time!
When I got to my seat on the stage, I could finally
relax. From the vantage point of the stage, I could see the
rest of my classmates marching in. What an
awesome sight to behold, the line moving in perfect step and I can
tell you that it was never as magnificent, as awesome a sight at any other high school graduation that I attended,
and I attended a lot of them.
  Miss Crane also made sure that we had our graduation caps on our heads exactly
right. The front down over the forehead just so with the mortar board perfectly parallel to the ground.
And the
music, the NNHS band, with
Mr. Wilsonís baton, playing that magnificent
Pomp and Circumstance. The music
on the NNHS link brought it all back to me, as if it were yesterday. Thanks for the

- Aretie Gallins Patterson ('59) of Northern VA - 03/24/05
Thanks so much!


by Fred W. Field

NNHS Class of June 1945, June 19, 2005

        Our class fondly remembers NNHS as that huge educational complex situated on Huntington Avenue between 30th and 32nd Streets (see A Look Back in the 1992 Typhoon Tidbits).  But "our" NNHS was actually the fourth city high school edifice.  The very first public high school was established in 1896, the same year that Newport News was incorporated.  Classes were held in an upper floor of the newly-constructed First National Bank building at Twenty-eight Street and Washington Avenue.  In that first year only one student graduated.  The second graduating class consisted of six students, all girls (was Herman Levy already teaching?).  In September of 1899, classes were transferred to the second high school facility, the newly-constructed Central School on Thirty-second Street between Washington and Huntington Avenues.  The school was renamed John W. Daniel in 1908.  In June 1913 a disastrous fire nearly destroyed the school; then it was rebuilt and reopened in December 1914. 

        As World War I approached, the city's population began to increase rapidly and John W. Daniel became overloaded.  A new site was selected on Wickham Avenue between Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth Streets for the third high school facility.  The new school, named Walter Reed, received its first students in September 1918.  However, during the influenza epidemic in the winter of 1918, the school was closed and the building used as a hospital.

        In 1921, Dr. Saunders, who had extensive experience in the Richmond school system, was appointed superintendent of schools.  At about the same time, a number of Warwick Co. high school students were accepted at Walter Reed while the county facility was being constructed (this was a deal worked out as part of the payment for the city's fifth annexation, effective June 1921).

        Soon after Dr. Saunders assumed his post he began to foresee the need for an even larger high school and began a plan of development that led to the opening of the fourth high school in September 1924.  But in a few years even this huge new facility had become crowded.  In 1930 the complex was expanded to add nine new rooms.  Then in 1935 the stadium was built.  And what could it possibly be named but Saunders Stadium?  Long delayed wings containing the boy's gymnasium and the library were completed in 1939.  It was at this final state of completion that we entered Newport News High School in 1941.

        In 1952, long after we graduated, our school building suffered 1/2 million dollars in damages from a fire set by a young arsonist.  Although it was restored and improvements added, the building reached the end of its life as a high school in 1971 when several new high schools were opened.  However the structure continued to be used for education and during 1977 through June 12, 1980 housed a vocational school.  Today the building is a dormitory - a home for Navy personnel stationed at the Shipyard.

        The main source of information was Newport News' 325 Years, published by The Newport News Golden Anniversary Corporation in 1946.

- Fred Field (June '45) of CA - 08/19/05 AND 07/30/06 (added at last on 10/03/12)
Thank you so very much, Fred!

 NNHS - The Backward School

by Fred W. Field

NNHS Class of June 1945, June 19, 2005

       Our Newport News High School building sat on the east side of Huntington Avenue between 30th and 32nd Streets.  The front of the building faced west.  As we went in and out of the front doors during those four long years, we never realized that our school building was sitting backwards!  The reason for the school's 180 degree disorientation was revealed in a long-forgotten article published in the April 28, 1944 issue of The Beacon, our weekly school newspaper of the era. 

        To understand how NNHS came to face the wrong way we have to go back to the closing years of the 19th century.  It was then that the leaders of the steadily growing city realized that schools needed to be quickly built.  And many of the new families wanted their sons and daughters to get a full schooling.  Or as was often put, "to have an education that we never had a chance to get."  High school classes were hurriedly established in 1896 using temporary quarters in the newly-built First National Bank building.  Then in September 1899 the students moved into the brand-new Central School located in the 200-block on 32nd Street.  By 1908 this building was renamed John W. Daniel.  The school was badly damaged in a 1913 fire but was rapidly rebuilt and opened again the following year.  However the steady growth of the city had already brought more students than the building could accommodate.  So by 1918 the City had a new school ready exclusively for high school students.  This was the Walter Reed School, built on Wickham Avenue between 24th and 25th Streets.  But the School Board could not possibly have anticipated the explosion in population that World War I would bring.  By 1921 the visionary new Superintendent, Dr. Joseph Saunders had inspired the School Board to consider even newer and more ambitious plans.

        A tentative decision was reached to build a new super-size high school on the Casino grounds.  This was then an open recreational area between West Avenue and the James River, just north of 26th Street.  On the basis of this plan, a formal building design was rendered which would have the front facing east (toward West Avenue).  But after further consideration, the Board became concerned about instability of the shoreline, which seemed to be receding at the rate of about 3 feet a year.  Somehow, a seawall did not seem like a practical solution.  And someone complained that there was inadequate space for an athletic field.  Then the Board's attention focused on an alternative site on the east side of Huntington Avenue between 30th and 32nd Streets.  The new location was on swampy ground occupied by only a few scattered shacks.  And behind the school would be a huge space (all the way to Virginia Avenue) which would be ideal for a large athletic field.  In all the enthusiasm, no one gave any thought to the fact that the building had been designed to face the other way around!

        Work began in 1922 with the filling in of the marshes.  In early 1923 the foundations were laid and in April the cornerstone was placed.  By June, 1924 the auditorium was completed and was used in graduation ceremonies for the Walter Reed seniors.  Two members of that class later joined the NNHS faculty: Jeanette Ward in the English Department, and Elizabeth Saunders as Librarian. 

        A great surprise was that the whole town seemed to want to attend that first graduation.  The auditorium quickly filled but outside a large restless group milled around, unable to gain entrance.  When the excluded mob became unruly, Superintendent Saunders made a speech from a second floor window to try to convince them to go home.  His plea was followed by another from the Board president, and then one from the building contractor - all to no avail.  Police finally had to use force to disperse the crowd and in the melee that followed, two participants ended up in the hospital.  All this was recalled in 1944 by Lamar R. Stanley who had been one of the early high school teachers.

        In the 1944 interview, Principal Stanley blamed the reversed position of the building as the reason that the north end of the building was notoriously difficult to heat.  He said that the building's designer had placed the furnace room north of the cafeteria, so that the steam pipes to the naturally colder north rooms would be as short as possible.  But when the building was constructed in the reversed position the south end rooms got the short steam pipe run, and the folks in the north rooms were left to shiver.

        Oh well, somehow we all managed to get a superior education - even if we did go to a definitely backward high school!

Many thanks to Helen Holland Blanton, NNHS Class of June 1944 for supplying the April 28, 1944 Beacon interviewAlso to Betty Savage Palmer, Class of June 1945  (d. 22 Aug 2009)  for recalling observations of her father who was NNHS custodian for some of our high school years.

- Fred Field (June '45) of CA - 08/19/05 AND 07/30/06 (added at last on 10/04/12)
Thank you so very much, Fred!

The recent info supplied by Bob Parrish ('68 - of Northern VA) regarding an entry in Wikipedia regarding NNHS is in error as it relates to basketball state championships. Bob isn't in error, the entry is! We won at Least 12 State Championships in Basketball, 10 under the umbrella of the Virginia High School League (VHSL) and at least 2 prior to that. There is sufficient rumor by older grads that there are more than 2 additional ones. 

Wikipedia is a good "start" but is an open source reference tool that is many times wrong or in the least, misleading.
Example is that it had NNHS as runner-up by having the winning score over the champ!?
Also, in defense of football, in our day there was no play-off system and the State Champions were chosen by writers and coaches;
on paper and not on the field. Whereas, the basketball titles were won on the court. The system was unfair to football, in my opinion.

- Wayne Stokes ('65) of VA - 09/03/08
Thank you for that important clarification, Wayne!

Hey Carol,

The attached photo of NNHS can be printed for an 8X10 frame. If someone can't get it to download
they can email me at and I can send a file directly to them.

- Al Dorner ('66) of VA - 10/28/13

  WOWZERONI-RINI! Thank you so much, Al!

Hi Carol --

I ran across some interesting history when going through 
  Dadís papers recently.

NNHS served as one of the Newport News WWII draft registration offices, and Ms. Gildersleeve was the Registrar!

You may have documented this previously, but I missed it.

A copy of Dadís draft card is attached Ė dated 10/16/40, exactly 1 month after Roosevelt re-instated the draft.- Ron Miller ('59) of NC - 10/29/13

  WOWZERONI-RINI! Thanks so much, Ron!

I recently found this article among all the things of my mom's and dad's. Thought it might be of interest.

- Ed Perry ('59) of TN - 12/28/17

  WOWZERONI! What a treasure! Thank you so much, Eddie!

The NNHS Alma Mater

Words and Music by Arthur Hundley, 1937

Within these sacred walls we stand,
To praise thine honored name,
We sing to thee, dear Newport High,
Thy glories we proclaim.

Hail, hail to the Gold and Blue,
We raise thy banners high,
And ever through thine endless days,
In triumph, may they fly.

O Alma Mater, in our hearts,
We'll often turn to thee,
And echo once again the songs
Of thy dear memory.

"The NNHS Alma Mater" midi (sequenced by Al Simms - '60 - of VA) on 01/24/07, finally added to this page on 04/02/09
Thanks, Al!

"The NNHS Alma Mater" lyrics transcribed by Carol Buckley Harty ('65) of IL - 07/13/00

"The NNHS Alma Mater" sheet music (prepared by Al Simms - '60 - of VA) on 01/24/07, finally added 03/31/09
Thanks so much, Al!

Animated Anchor clip art courtesy of - 05/06/03

Image of Arthur Hundley ('37) courtesy of June Veneris Collie (Hampton HS - '62) of VA - 09/04/08
Thank you so much, June!

Back to Our Old Stomping Grounds

Return to NNHS Class of 1965