Gardendale High School
|Gardendale High School|
|800 Main Street
|School district||Jefferson County Board of Education|
|Student to teacher ratio||19:1|
|Color(s)||Maroon and gray|
|Athletics||AHSAA Class 6A|
|Feeder schools||Bragg Middle School|
Gardendale High School (GHS) is a public high school located in the Birmingham, Alabama suburb of Gardendale. It is currently operated by the Jefferson County Board of Education. GHS was established in 1966 as a result of population growth in the area. Until this time, local students mostly attended Mortimer Jordan High School in nearby Morris.
The school mascot/nickname is "Rockets." The name was chosen by vote of the first student body in school history and was chosen to honor the U.S. Space and Rocket program, which at the time was actively pursuing the goal of placing a man on the moon. The school colors are maroon and gray.
Enrollment in grades 9-12 for the 2013-14 school year is 1,095 students. Approximately 75% of students are white, 24% are African-American, and 1% are Hispanic. Roughly 27% of students qualify for free or reduced price lunch.
GHS has a graduation rate of 90%. Approximately 91% of its students meet or exceed state proficiency standards in mathematics, and 92% meet or exceed standards in reading. The average ACT score for GHS students is 24 and the average SAT Score is 1820.
A merger was proposed in 2007 between GHS and nearby Fultondale High School, but it was cancelled by Superintendent Phil Hammonds. In the aftermath of the scuttled merger, the district announced plans for construction of a new $46 million school building that would include separate competition and practice gyms, a 600-seat auditorium and 100-seat lecture hall, with potential future expansion to add as many as 32 additional classrooms down the road. The expansion would allow the school's 960 student enrollment to be expanded to accommodate 1,457 students. Demolition of the old school was completed in 2009.
The new high school officially opened in February 2010. Once all students had transferred to the new high school campus the Rogers campus was demolished. A new baseball stadium as well as a soccer field were built on the site of the former Rogers campus. The high school basketball teams began playing their home games in the new gymnasium in the fall of 2010.
The school's football stadium was originally called Rocket Stadium but the name was changed to Driver Stadium later to honor L.E. Driver, the man who was responsible for the stadium lighting (a former Alabama Power employee) who later became the city's parks director. During the 1970s, it was the largest capacity on-campus high school stadium in Jefferson County and second largest overall; Legion Field in Birmingham, home field of several city schools, was the largest. The stadium hosted several Dental Clinic Charity football games as well as one Crippled Children's Classic charity football game during the 1970s.
With the building of the new school facility, a new baseball park was constructed on the site of the former Rogers Building. In turn, a new softball field replaced the old baseball diamond, just across the street from Bragg Middle School. A new soccer field, which also serves as a practice field for both football and band, was built next to the new baseball park.
Gardendale High School's program was recognized by the Alabama Department of Education as recipient of the "Outstanding Program of the Year Award" in 2003 for its Family and Consumer Sciences Education Program and the integrated efforts of the school's chapter of the Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA). The Gardendale High School "Rocket" Marching Band and the Symphonic Band are known to be incredibly prestigious. The marching band holds the state record streak for continuous superior ratings at state sponsored marching contests (30 year streak). The symphonic band is also incredibly successful. The band holds the most "Superior ratings with distinction" at the State Concert Contest (37). Directors include: Mr. Rick White, Mr. Scott Thompson, Dr. Johnny Jacobs, Dr. Phil Min, Mr. Tracey Starnes, and currently, Mr. Jess Taylor.
Until the mid-1980s, the Alabama High School Athletic Association maintained a four classification system for high school athletics in Alabama. Since then, the AHSAA has maintained a six classification system, and has now moved to seven classes. Gardendale High was mostly a 3A school (but did participate at class 4A for two years) in the four-class system. Since the advent of the six-class system, most years Gardendale High was a 5A participant, but has spent time in the 6A classification. The classification system is based on enrollment grades 9-12 and is re-evaluated every two years. As of the 2015-16 school year, Gardendale is classified as a 6A school.
Track & Field
Gardendale High School has achieved the highest success in track and field. The boys' indoor track team has won the Alabama state indoor track championship, winning titles in 1978 (Class 1A/2A/3A), 1979 (Class 3A), 1980 (Class 3A), 1984 (Class 3A), 1988 (Class 4A/5A) and 1989 (Class 6A). In 1980, The Gardendale Girls Indoor Track team won the one and only state championship for girls' sports in the school's long history. The boys' cross-country team has won the state Class 3A championship five times, including four consecutive years from 1976 through 1979, and again in 1982. Gardendale has also had success in the regular outdoor season winning state championships in 1979 and 1984 for 3A. Another state title followed in 1989 for Class 6A. If teams and coaches are always measured by their success, then the Gardendale teams along with their head coach, Tom Jennings, dominated the 1970s and 1980s with an impressive 15 State Championships. While coaching at GHS, Coach Tom Jennings produced a large number of individual state champions with the two most notable being: Keith Clay (in the late-1970s) captured 8 individual state championships and Micah McAnnally (in the early-1980s) captured 7 individual state championships.
Gardendale's first state championship in any sport was in wrestling in 1974. The school has produced multiple wrestling state champions. Steve Mordecai was a four-time state champion from 1974 - 1977. Tripp Otis was named Most Outstanding Wrestler in Class 5A for 2007, and completed his senior season by winning the Class 5A state championship in the 189-pound weight class, losing only one match all season long. Fellow wrestler Chad Bearden won the 2007 Class 5A heavyweight championship, winning the Class 5A state championship for the third time in his career.
State Championship Teams
Gardendale High School has won 17 state athletics championships:
- Boys' Cross Country: 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1982
- Boys' Indoor Track: 1978, 1979, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1989
- Girls' Indoor Track: 1980
- Boys' Outdoor Track & Field: 1979, 1984, 1989
- Wrestling: 1974, 1975
- Curt Jarvis - 1983 graduate, University of Alabama football (1983–1986), Tampa Bay Buccaneers-NFL 1987
- Alan Ogg, former UAB and NBA basketball player.
- Willie Wyatt - 1986 graduate, University of Alabama football (1986–1989), Tampa Bay Buccaneers-NFL 1990.
- Pat Keedy - Former MLB player (California Angels, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians)
- Jerry Hairston, Sr. - 1971 graduate, former Major League Baseball player, most notably with the Chicago White Sox.
- Terry McAnnally - 1980 graduate, former professional baseball player, Chicago White Sox (1980–81)
- Jordan Howard - running back for UAB (2013-2014) and Indiana University football (2015), now with the Chicago Bears
- Trey Mullinax - golfer on Alabama Crimson Tide golf team that won the 2013 and 2014 NCAA Men's Golf Championships, now on the PGA Tour
- "Gardendale High School in Gardendale, AL - Niche". K-12 School Rankings and Reviews at Niche.com. Retrieved 2015-09-23.
- "2014 Graduation Rates by School and District". Alabama School Connection. Retrieved 2015-10-29.
- "Jeffco high schools won't merge", The Birmingham News, March 30, 2007
- "Superintendent previews Gardendale school features", The Birmingham News, April 18, 2007
- Alabama Department of Education Board Resolution, dated August 14, 2003, accessed April 20, 2007.
- Indoor Track - Past State Champions - Boys Archived February 10, 2006, at the Wayback Machine., Alabama High School Athletic Association, accessed April 20, 2007.
- Past State Champions (Boys) Archived September 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine., Alabama High School Athletic Association, accessed April 20, 2007.
- FOUR TIMES STATE HIGH SCHOOL WRESTLING CHAMPIONS Since 1924
- "Tripp Otis of Gardendale High School SCHOLAR-ATHLETE OF THE WEEK", The Birmingham News, April 4, 2007, accessed April 20, 2007. "He finished his senior season with a 57-1 record and won a state championship in the 189-pound weight class. He was named Most Outstanding Wrestler in Class 5A and honored for the best match in the 189-pound category at the state tournament."
- AHSAA State Wrestling Championships, The Birmingham News, February 4, 2007.
- AHSAA State Wrestling Championships Tournament, accessed April 20, 2007.
- Alan Ogg player profile, accessed April 21, 2007.
- Willie Wyatt, database Football. Accessed October 27, 2007.