BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL)— It has been the home of the Cougars for more than 50 years. After this final semester, Sullivan Central High School will close its doors on decades of memories.
The building will become Sullivan Central Middle School after the 2021 spring semester ends.
For the students and teachers who have walked these halls since 1968, tradition is rooted deep. It’s the end of an era for a school built on family legacy.
“I have had the experience of students saying to me, ‘you taught my momma’ or ‘you taught my dad,'” said Robin Bagnall, Central teacher for more than 30 years.
“You coach them and then years later you are coaching their kids, it’s something special,” said Gary Surcey, retiring 30-year Central teacher and coach.
But it is the family built within these halls, that is just as important.
“They say ‘once a Cougar always a Cougar’ and I definitely believe that. I will brag about how I went to Central for years to come,” said Emalyne Hubbard, a rising West Ridge senior.
“I love my kids, love my students. It is so exciting to see where all they have gone and what all they have done. That’s the whole thing, it’s family,” said Bagnall.
You can only imagine the memories made in these halls since 1968, but it’s one from 2018 that makes every Cougar proud.
A losing snap, a Cougar Chant for a win. The Sullivan Central football team broke their 36-game losing streak that fall, a winless dry spell of 1,435 days. Central beat rival Sullivan East in a thrilling game, 51 to 42.
“Something I will always remember? Definitely the win we had after our three year losing streak. It was really cool to storm the field after that game,” said Central senior Spencer Moody.
Some of the school’s greatest athletic legacy is on the court.
“When you walk through the door, it’s a special feeling,” said former boy’s basketball coach Dickie Warren.
The iconic “Dickie Warren Dome” is named after the man who led the men’s basketball team to 922 wins from 1968 to 2000.
“It was a team. You had some individual stars, but it was a team, I think that’s one reason we were very successful,” said Warren.
It was the consolidation of Blountville and Holston high schools that created Sullivan Central — a fierce rivalry of students that came together in the halls and on the court.
“They came in here saying they can’t get along, they can’t. They did,” said Warren.
As for one of the country’s most winning boy’s basketball coaches, his message to his players was simple.
“Win. And play hard. That will get it,” said Warren.
The doors will close on Sullivan Central High School on Thursday, May 20, as an unforgettable era ends.
“It’s an honor to be the last graduating class here. It definitely is a little sad to be the closing chapter to that,” said Moody.
“You spend a great part of your life here. The memories, the relationships. It will be very emotional for me,” said Surcey.
It is the traditions, the homecomings, the friendships, and the family that mean the Cougars will always bleed orange.
“It’s the end of a big part of my life,” said Coach Warren. “We’re all together. All the Cougars.”
Sullivan Central, Sullivan North and Sullivan South students will consolidate in the fall of 2021 at the new West Ridge High School.