History of Collierville High School
Collierville High School was established in 1905. The original building was located at the corner of Highway 57, Walnut Street, and College Street. A deed was recorded on June 30, 1899, in the Shelby County Register’s Office between the 10th Civil District’s school commissioners and B. L. Branch. The sum of $50 was paid for a parcel of land (Bellevue College) that became the location of Collierville High School. A second deed was negotiated in 1899 for the sale of Bellevue’s Boarding Home.
A newspaper article in 1938 stated that Miss Anna Holden kept her school until about 1893 when she sold it to the county, which continued to use it as a public school for boys. The county decided that they could not afford two public schools for the town and sold the land back to the Holden family. The boys were then sent to Bellevue Boarding Home located on the Bellevue College Campus. The public school for boys at the Holden place that had been sold to the County and Bellevue Female College were joined in 1905, all boys and girls then attended the same school.
The Shelby County Board of Education constructed a square-shaped school building using columns from Bellevue College. This was the nucleus of the first Collierville High School building.
The first modification to the earlier building was made in 1911, and a second addition was built in 1924. Records from September 1924 show that Collierville High School was a member of the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges and was one of only three schools accepted in Tennessee. In 1928 a strip of land was purchased to the west of the school for the construction of a principal’s residence.
In 1914, Collierville High school upgraded its classes to include the 12th grade. Only one student received a diploma at the graduation exercise on May 27th.
In 1926, what was called the finest gymnasium in Shelby County was erected just south of Highway 57 and east of the street that was cut through the school grounds in August 1929. The street ran north from College in front of the Vance Carrington, Sr. home to Highway 57.
In May 1929, the school enrollment for grades one through twelve was approximately 400 students. In order to keep Collierville High School from being closed, the Collierville PTA provided clothes, shoes and transportation for students in the post-depression years.
Collierville High School has always had feeder schools. George R. James School in Fisherville sent their students to Collierville upon completion of the 8th grade. For many years the adjacent Marshall County, Mississippi and Fayette County, Tennessee paid tuition to Shelby County Board of Education so that their students could attend Collierville High School. The practice continued until the latter part of the 1960’s.
In the early part of the 1933 school year, it was discovered that the west wall of the building’s south wing, which had been constructed in 1887, was in poor and unstable condition. After a hurried call to the Board of Education and Shelby County Building Engineers, braces were immediately erected, architects employed and plans were made to replace the building.
Collierville High School needed a new building and that coincided with the government plan to offer much needed employment to both the skilled and unskilled laborers. CHS was one of the first buildings built by the Civilian Work Administration, which later became the WPA. The original plan had a school auditorium located where the study hall was located in 1930-70 period. The school plans were elaborate and after many sessions of changing the plans, the auditorium was moved to the south side of the building with an elaborately landscaped sunken garden. The school auditorium was by far the most elaborate in the Shelby County School System. Balcony seats and lighting system equal to any in Memphis. The maroon velvet stage curtains were purchased by the school and the PTA, as were the projectors, screens, and sound equipment. etc. The town did not have a picture show or theater, so the school auditorium was used for the theater as well as for many civic affairs. The new school plan also included a modern library that covered the entire side of the north wing that was erected in 1922 and razed in the 1970.
When the old building was razed in about 1929, the large school bell that had rung since 1897 bringing students to school in the morning and releasing them in the afternoon was moved to the left side of the school building. It remained there until construction began on the new school in the mid 1930’s. After the school was completed, the cornerstone was taken from the old building and used as a base for the bell. This bell is now located in the downstairs lobby of the present location of CHS at 1101 New Byhalia Road.
In 1941, an additional three acres were purchased on College Street where the old football field was located. The field was dedicated to the 12 young CHS men who lost their lives in WWII. This brought the campus to a total of eleven acres.
In 1959, the Shelby County Board of Education purchased 37.61 acres on Peterson Lake Road. With the acquisition of this tract, Collierville Elementary School was built and CHS was able to complete a new athletic field. This field was also dedicated to the 12 young CHS men who lost their lives in WWII.
Then in the fall of 1971 a new addition was added to CHS, which included a new cafeteria and library. The old gym and study hall were removed to make room for the new additions. During the period between the 70s and 1997 when the school was moved from the original campus to the Byhalia Road locations, many additions were added to the school where the old athletic field had been located along Poplar (Hwy 57).
In the fall of 1997, Collierville High School was relocated to 1101 New Byhalia Road, formally Collierville Middle School, and Collierville Middle School moved the the old Collierville High School location. A large expansion was added to the original Collierville Middle School built in 1976, which included a gymnasium and auditorium. Since 1997 a sports complex has been added providing baseball, softball and soccer fields.
In 2005, Collierville High School celebrated 100 years of educational excellence. The average class sizes ranged between 500 and 600+ students with a total of nearly 2300 students.
The CHS Alumni Association’s book “Collierville High School, 100 Years of History and Memories 1905-2005″ contains many pictures and stories about the early days of CHS.
After 109 years as part of the Shelby County Schools, Collierville High School (CHS) became as of July 1st, part of the newly formed Collierville School System.
While spending one year (2013-2014 school year) in the newly formed Unified Shelby County School system, as a result of Memphis City School System surrendering their charter, Shelby County Schools became the fourth largest school system in the US. The citizens of Collierville elected to start their own municipal school system.
The Collierville Schools was formed in 2013 after a lengthy legislative process granting our town the privilege of educating the students of the Town of Collierville. Mayor Stan Joyner, CHS Class of 1968, along with other municipal mayors from Bartlett, Arlington, Germantown, and Millington worked together to each form their own municipal school system.
Collierville Schools consists of eight schools; Collierville Elementary School, Crosswind Elementary School, Tara Oaks Elementary School, Bailey Station Elementary School, Sycamore Elementary School, Collierville Middle School, Schilling Farms Middle School, and Collierville High School.
A five member board was elected on November 7th, 2013. The first board members are Chairman Mark Hansen, Kevin Vaughn, Wanda Chism, Cathy Messerly, and Wright Cox.
In December the newly formed Collierville Schools’ board appointed John Aitkens as the first superintendent. Once a teacher/basketball coach at CHS, Mr. Aitkens moved to Houston High School as assistant principal and later became principal. Mr. Aitkens worked in the Shelby County School System for over 30 years and served as superintendent from 2008 to 2013.
In the fall of 2014, Collierville High School began the first year of operation under the newly formed school system.
On August 24th, 2015 the Collierville Board of Mayor and Aldermen passed a resolution authorizing Town staff to issue but not exceed $95,000,000 in general obligation bonds for the purpose of construction of a new high school. The Collierville Schools Board of Education conducted a search and study for available tracts of land in Collierville and settled on the site located at the corner of Sycamore Road and East Shelby Drive, south of Interstate 385.
The new high school was designed to accommodate a 3,000 student population. Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2016 with the first classes being held in the new facility in the fall of 2018.