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South Side School celebrates 100 years of 'community'

Jonathan Roberts • Sep 14, 2019 at 9:00 PM

When John Boyd became the principal of South Side School in 1985, he wasn’t sure what the future would hold — for him or the school.

That’s because, when he first came to the school in January of ’85, he was told the school, as it was constructed, was not likely to be there longer than another decade. And, in the 1990s, that almost became a reality. But on Saturday, the school celebrated its centennial, thanks to a community that rallied time and again to keep South Side in the Tree Streets.

“The emotions are very hard to describe,” Boyd said. “I’m thrilled to be here and so happy to see the essence of the school — which is community — is still alive and well at South Side.”

That sense of community was alive and well inside the school’s cafeteria, where former students, faculty, staff and city officials — some of whom attended South Side — all gathered to share in the emotions of making it a hundred years.

“This is a community school, it’s been in this neighborhood for a hundred years and it’s been a gathering spot for those years,” Johnson City Mayor Jenny Brock said. “There are generations and generations who have gone here, so it’s just a part of everybody’s family.”

During his remarks to the crowd, Boyd got emotional as he discussed what the school meant, and continues, to mean for him and the generations of students, faculty, staff and parents who’ve roamed South Side’s halls at one point — especially discussing the school’s near brush with relocation.

“I felt that our role as faculty was to keep our heads down and work hard,” he said. “We didn’t get into politics, we let the community handle that — we just wanted to make sure that this was a school everyone could take pride in.”

Johnson City Schools Superintendent, Steve Barnett, said that seeing Boyd speak was “wonderful” and that he has “a lot of respect for Dr. Boyd.”

“It’s wonderful to see how proud he is of South Side — not just the building, but the community,” Barnett said.

Though Boyd left the school in 2005, his impact won’t soon be forgotten.

“I guess it sounds hokey, but (South Side) is really just that wonderful of a place,” Boyd said in front of the “Boyd Blvd.” sign hanging in the hallway outside the cafeteria below Boyd’s portrait, which reads “20 years of visionary leadership.”

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