Alvin C. York Institute

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Alvin C. York Institute
701 North Main Street
Jamestown, Tennessee 38556
School type State Public high school
Motto Prepare and Excel
Established 1926
Founder Alvin C. York
Oversight Tennessee Department of Education
Superintendent Phil Brannon
Dean Derwin Wright
Administrator Jason Tompkins
Staff ~60
Grades 9-12
Enrollment ~800
Hours in school day 7
Campus Rural
Campus size 400 acres (160 ha)
School color(s)      Purple      Gold
Slogan Home of the Dragons
Mascot Dragon
Accreditation Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
USNWR ranking #105
Newspaper Pine Needles
Yearbook Mountaineer
Dedication: To the end that my people of Pall Mall and of Fentress County and the boys and girls of this mountainous section may enjoy the liberating influences and educational advantages which were denied me, I dedicate this institution and my life to its perpetuation, and seek from the American people support in keeping with the great need.
-- Sgt. Alvin C. York
Alvin C. York Agricultural Institute Historic District
The older section of York Institute
Alvin C. York Institute is located in Tennessee
Alvin C. York Institute
Alvin C. York Institute is located in the US
Alvin C. York Institute
Coordinates 36°26′40″N 84°56′13″W / 36.44444°N 84.93694°W / 36.44444; -84.93694Coordinates: 36°26′40″N 84°56′13″W / 36.44444°N 84.93694°W / 36.44444; -84.93694
Area 8 acres (3.2 ha)
Built 1927 (1927)
Architectural style Classical Revival
MPS Fentress County MPS
NRHP reference # 91001378[1]
Added to NRHP September 20, 1991

Alvin C. York Institute, also known as Alvin C. York Agricultural Institute or York Institute, is a public high school in Jamestown, Tennessee, founded as a private agricultural school in 1926 by World War I hero Alvin York and later transferred to the state of Tennessee in 1937, which continues to operate it as a public high school. It is the only comprehensive secondary school in the United States that is financed and operated by the state government.[2]


Alvin C. York established the school that carries his name during the 1920s in the county seat of his home county of Fentress. His goal was to give rural children the chance to obtain a high school education. Beginning in 1919 he toured the United States raising funds for the school, using his status as a war hero to get public attention and raising a total of $10,000.[3][4] He also solicited and received funds from the state legislature,[5] which contributed $50,000, and from Fentress County, which pledged $50,000.[4] Classes began in 1929 and the school operated privately until 1937,[5] when financial pressures related to the Great Depression led York to transfer the school to the state of Tennessee, which continues to operate it as a public school as a living memorial to York.


The school sits on a campus of over 400 acres (1.6 km2) that is said to be the world's largest high school campus.[2] The campus is designated as a Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency wildlife management area and includes a working farm where students participate in managing a herd of Limousin cattle.[6][7] Five ponds on the campus are used for livestock watering, sport fishing, and waterfowl feeding and nesting.[7]

Campus buildings currently in use include the Main Administration Building (c. 1980), Social Sciences Building (a later addition to the original school), Science Building, Alvin C. York JROTC Building (c. 1940s), and Fentress County Vocational Training Center (c. 1970s).[citation needed]

The main administration building today, built in 1980.

The Jamestown Community Center and Jamestown Community Park are located near the school on York Institute land.[6]

Historic building[edit]

The original two-story brick administration building, built in 1928,[8] is the centerpiece of the Alvin C. York Agricultural Institute Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The school building was replaced with a new building in the 1980s and subsequently has deteriorated. In 2005 the Tennessee Preservation Trust listed it on its yearly list of the state's "most endangered" historic sites.[3]

In January 2008 the Tennessee Department of Education proposed that it be demolished, and estimated the cost of demolition at $3.6 million, while renovation would cost $3.7 million.[9] Due to safety concerns, state officials blocked off access to the old building and all areas within 50 feet (15 m) of the walls, thus preventing the use of four classrooms in the school's current main building, which is adjacent to the original building.[10] On July 15, 2008 an agreement was reached between the state building and education departments and the Sgt. York Patriotic Foundation, which agreed to oversee and fund the restoration of the historic structure. As of January 2010, the building had been stabilized and initial remediation was complete, at a total cost of about $1 million.[11]


The school enrolls students in grades 9 through 12. It operates on a block schedule, in which the fall and spring semesters are each divided into four blocks, and students take four classes each semester. York also offers vocational programs including agriculture, automotive technology, residential construction technology, metal technology, nursing, accounting, and information management systems.[7]

York Institute was one of nine Tennessee school districts to participate in the Appalachian Mathematics and Science Partnership, funded by the National Science Foundation with the goal enhancing science, mathematics and technology education in Appalachian region schools with low socioeconomic status and student achievement.[12]


Through the gracious efforts of a local foundation and through cooperation with Roane State Community College, York Institute is able to provide its students with undergraduate-level college coursework free of charge to all students. Classes offered include College Algebra, American History I & II, English Comp I & II, Psychology, Sociology, Spanish, etc. Students enrolled in these courses obtain both college and high-school credit and can earn up to two years worth of college credit.

Vocational Certification[edit]

The York Institute also provides a CNA certification program to all students free of charge. The students can apply for and obtain their CNA licensure after a semester of coursework and clinical observation is completed. The school also provides a classroom and shop area for the Tennessee Technological Center to offer Welding courses at the school site.

Community Education[edit]

The Alvin C. York Institute also operates a community education program. The program consists of various classes, events, and resources that are available to the community at no cost. The major goal of this project is to involve parents and community members in educational programs. Community education classes allow the community to become familiar with the school their children or grandchildren attend. A concerted effort is made to enhance the value placed on education. Courses offered range from basic to graduate level courses as well as many arts and crafts courses. Funding for this program is provided by Union Bank of Jamestown.[13]

Extracurricular activities and clubs[edit]

Extracurricular clubs and organizations offered at York Institute include:


  • Football
  • Boys & Girls Basketball
  • Baseball
  • Softball
  • Boys & Girls Soccer
  • Boys & Girls Track
  • Boys & Girls Bowling
  • Boys & Girls Golf
  • Cross Country

Honors and awards[edit]

In 1989 York Institute was recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.[8][14] In 1992 it was one of 140 public secondary schools recognized by Redbook magazine as "America's Best Schools."[15] It was a recipient of a Tennessee Department of Education 2006 Best Practices in Character Education Merit Award.[16]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "NPS Focus". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. Retrieved November 18, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b York Institute Student Handbook Archived 2009-04-29 at the Wayback Machine., accessed December 29, 2008
  3. ^ a b Ten in Tennessee Endangered List, Tennessee Preservation Trust website (accessed January 18, 2008)
  4. ^ a b Fentress Feud, Time magazine, May 25, 1936
  5. ^ a b History, York Institute website (accessed January 18, 2008)
  6. ^ a b Campus, York Institute website (accessed January 18, 2008)
  7. ^ a b c Promising Programs, York Institute website (accessed January 18, 2008)
  8. ^ a b Fentress County Spotlight, by Ruble Upchurch, Upper Cumberland Business Journal, October 11, 2007
  9. ^ Historic Jamestown school could be leveled, Stoney Sharp, WBIR-TV, 1/17/2008
  10. ^ Original Alvin C. York Institute to be torn down, by Liz Engel, Herald-Citizen newspaper (Cookeville, Tennessee), January 11, 2008
  11. ^ Save YAI, Sergeant York Foundation website, accessed February 8, 2010
  12. ^ Appalachian Mathematics and Science Partnership website (accessed January 18, 2008)
  13. ^ [1] website (accessed April 8, 2010)
  14. ^ Schools Recognized, 1982-1983 Through 1999-2002 Archived 2009-03-26 at the Wayback Machine., U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon Schools Program
  15. ^ a b Fentress County Schools, Fentress County Chamber of Commerce website (accessed January 18, 2008)
  16. ^ Local School Wins Character Education Merit Award, Knoxville News Sentinel, December 12, 2006. Archived on the Character Counts! website.

External links[edit]