Pickens High School (South Carolina)

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Pickens High School
4314 Moorefield Memorial Highway

Coordinates34°54′22″N 82°42′59″W / 34.9062°N 82.7163°W / 34.9062; -82.7163Coordinates: 34°54′22″N 82°42′59″W / 34.9062°N 82.7163°W / 34.9062; -82.7163
Enrollment1,385 (2016-17)[1]
Team nameBlue Flame

Pickens High School is a high school in Pickens, South Carolina. It is the second largest high school in the Pickens County School District in South Carolina, next to Easley High School


Pickens High School was founded in 1870 as Pickens Institute. It has been serving Pickens County longer than the local university, Clemson University.

Professor James H. Carlisle was one of the first to direct the school. James P. Carey, who became principal around 1881, fought endlessly for much needed improvements in the school system. Along with Professor Dreher of Liberty, Carey pushed for a graded school system used by various schools throughout the state. His plan, which would divide the students into separate classes or grades, each taught by a different teacher, was abandoned after many unsuccessful attempts. The original Pickens academy In use from 1871 through 1881.

Carey resigned from his position in October 1881 and soon after, a plan to leave the dilapidated building was made. The start of 1882 brought Professor W. Miller McCaslan to the new Main Street Pickens High School. McCaslan brought many new and exciting changes to the school. Two equal sessions divided the school year that was now to run for 10 months. The school began to flourish, boasting a rising student population, which brought higher tuition and more State money to be used towards the school. In mid-October, attendance was reduced; students were forced to leave school to pick cotton. During the previous interim of 1883, Pickens High School had informally adopted the name “Pickens Institute,” or “Piedmont Institute.” Dedication Day was April 20, 1883 and honored the opening of the new Victorian-style school building. Many classes offered to students included Latin, Greek and Mental and Moral Sciences, topographical and mechanical drawing, mathematics, military training, and music, along with the traditional courses. During 1884, the enrollment reached 137 pupils. The rules and regulations impended on the students by McCaslan were still in effect, including a rule preventing female students from going out during the week.

Before the second term of 1887, the McCaslan family left the Piedmont Institute. The retired Dr. Riley and Dr. Neil W. McCauley took over operations of the school. The debt on the school left by McCaslan was still under mortgage and up to Riley and McCauley to deal with. The stockholders decided to put the school and its property up for sale in September 1887. Efforts to raise money to keep the school were unsuccessful. Former principal James P. Carey bought the property at the auction. He and his family moved in shortly after. The school was conducted at an unknown location by Miss Laura Ellis, followed by Miss Sallie Robinson on the bottom floor of the Masonic Lodge. This is where the Pickens Drug Store stands today. The house of former Attorney R. A. Child was soon after purchased as the new location of the Piedmont Institute. The following years brought as much exciting and new experiences as the previous. The school continued to flourish and thrive, gaining more and more students every session. Mr. Dendy was superintendent of the school from 1900 through 1905, followed by Mr. Swittenberg, serving from 1906 through 1910. Many other men who served in this position over the next years followed him.

Football became a lasting part of Pickens in 1923. In the late 1920s, Gary Hiott, Sr., editor of the Pickens Sentinel, wrote the Pickens team charged through the opposing defense "like a blue flame." It was this man that coined the team name, Pickens Blue Flame.

On Friday, September 8, 1950, the dedication of Bruce Field brought 1,500 fans to Pickens. The Blue Flame scorched Pelzer-Williamston in the stadium's debut game 21-0. The Bruce family donated the land to the school. Pickens High School moved into the new building at the current location in 1954. In 1973, the Pickens City Council, in honor of the football team, named the street in front of the high school Blue Flame Drive. The more modern PHS of the 60's

Additions and renovations throughout the 1980s and 1990s have improved the look of the school and increased the size of the facility. With the addition of 8 portable classrooms in the 2000s, the school now accommodates more than 1500 students.

Notable alumni[edit]

Alma mater[edit]

The Pickens High School Alma Mater is called "Alma Mater, Pickens High". Tradition says that students, teachers, and alumni stand at attention until the final line. At that time, they place their right hands over their hearts for the words "Alma Mater," then salute (right arm extended and raised and hold up a certain number of fingers depending on how many years of school you have left, seniors hold up one, juniors two, sophomores three, freshman four) during the words "Pickens High." The lyrics are written below.

Hail to thee our Alma Mater
Pickens High of well-known fame
Whose history's rich with proud achievement
Whose past has won a great name

Hail to thee our loving Mother
Who lives in past and future, too
Thy name shall shine in glorious splendor
Shaped by faith and ideals true

Now thy faithful sons and daughters
Loyal still as years go by
Pledge to thee our firm devotion
Alma Mater, Pickens High

Food Fight Bowl[edit]


Pickens High enjoys a very heated rivalry with Easley High School, a high school seven miles southeast of Pickens. This rivalry is widely known as one of the fiercest rivalries in South Carolina. This game was named the Food Fight Bowl by the Pickens County Meals on Wheels in 2008 when the organization became the rivalry's sponsor.

The competition starts a month before the game when the two schools start gathering money for Meals on Wheels. On game day, the festivities start at 4:00 pm in Legacy Square in Pickens or Easley High School NJROTC Drill Practice field in Easley with the Meals on Wheels Food Fight Bowl Tailgate Party. During that time, students and fans of the two rival schools enjoy food provided by local businesses. All proceeds go to Meals on Wheels. At 6:00, the attention turns to the Meals on Wheels Talent Show, with two acts from each school. Fans vote for their school (not individual acts) through donations to Meals on Wheels. A panel of judges gives a Champion's Football to the best act. During this whole time, Meals and Wheels are counting the donations from each school (combining student donations from the previous month and the voting donations from the talent show). The school that collected the most money wins the Ultimate Food Fight Trophy, which is awarded at halftime. At 6:00 pm, the marching bands and cheerleaders lead the procession down to the home team's stadium, where fans buy tickets and enter the stadium. Kickoff is always at 8:00, and the winner of the game is awarded the Food Fight Bowl Trophy.

The 2010 Food Fight Bowl was broadcast live by CSS Sports on cable television.

Although the series record stands at 35 Easley wins, 19 Pickens wins, and one draw, Pickens has won the past 3 meetings, most recently on September 10, 2010 by a score of 27-13.

Bruce Field[edit]

Bruce Field has been the home of the Pickens Blue Flame football team since September 3, 1950 when the stadium opened. The land originally belonged to the Bruce family, who decided to donate the land to Pickens High. PHS honored them by naming the stadium after them. The rated stadium capacity is six thousand. Features of the stadium include two concession stands, two field houses, two sets of restrooms, a working PA system, a souvenir shop (known as "The House of Blue"), a blue scoreboard, and a huge Bunson Burner that creates a blue flame whenever the football team scores. Attendance to Pickens football games range from 5,500 for a regular region game to 11,000 for the Food Fight Bowl. The last football game at Bruce Field was played against the D. W. Daniel High School Lions in which the Blue Flame lost 14-7. The game took place on October 29, 2010.

Pickens will open their new stadium for the 2011 football season

Football music[edit]

"Scotland the Brave", is used as the pregame entrance fanfare of the Blue Flame. The Pickens fight song is titled "When the Flame Goes Burning In", which is a variant of "When the Saints Go Marching In". When the team scores, the drumline plays a cadence called "Bananas" This cadence begins with rolls up and down the bass drums, interspersed with the student section and the rest of the band shouting "Go Blue Flame" This is followed by a solo played on the tenors, while the rest of the band adds visual effect. The drums twirl their sticks, the saxophones and bass clarinets twirls their neck straps, and the rest of the members dance. When this ends, the drumline starts up a lively cadence to which the crowd spells out Pickens. Right after the 'C', the band all scream "Yeah Boy", and the drumline plays a triplet to get everyone on beat. After Pickens is spelled out, the entire crowd yells, "Pickens, Blue Flame, fight, fight, fight!" This is followed by a short tenor solo. This solo can be many different things. Some of the most common are: The opening part of the Mario Brothers theme, either one or three times, and the first line of "Dixie"


  1. ^ "Pickens High". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved February 7, 2019.

External links[edit]