KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — Since 1980, the Sullivan North Raiders have been known for the black and gold. The building will eventually house Kingsport City students as it becomes John Sevier Middle School.
But even after its final day on Thursday, May 20, the Raider spirit will live on.
“Being a senior, graduating and being the last class from Sullivan North, it’s very surreal,” said senior and class president Landrey McGlothlin.
As the final group of graduates reminisce, alumni from the school’s second class also look back and remember.
“I’ve been coming here since before I could drive. As a student, then all these years teaching,” said teacher Thomas Gilbert, Sullivan North class of 1982.
“I still remember this distinctly, at orientation coming and walking through the building and just being in awe that we were going to get to go to school here,” said teacher Chris Salley, class of 1982.
The merger of Lynn View and Ketron high schools created Sullivan North in the fall of 1980. Gilbert and Salley were bright-eyed juniors when they came to the new school.
“We came together really, really well. By that second year we were definitely Raiders. We were proud of our school, our community, proud to be part of this. We still are,” said Gilbert.
It is an atmosphere described as family by students and teachers alike.
“I’ve been in my classroom for 22 years. It’s my little home, my home away from home,” said teacher Sonya Owens, also a member of the class of 1982.
Owens says she will never forget a former principal who has passed, Richard Carroll, and his impact.
“Every single morning he started the day out with, ‘It can be a great day for you if you want it to be.’ Students who went here, that’s one thing they remember,” said Owens.
North traditions have lasted the years from students past to present at Thunder Valley.
“Homecoming definitely is a great tradition here at Sullivan North,” said Salley.
“We definitely love to put on a show here. We are very high energy, intense, our crowd gets into it, we enjoy everything,” said Christopher Watkins, rising West Ridge senior.
Even back to day one, you could still see familiar faces at North on its last day.
“I’ve been here from the day it opened, actually I worked here during the summer before it opened and helped set this library up,” said secretary Sandra Davis.
That is more than 40 years. Davis has seen every student, every teacher to walk North’s halls.
“It’s kind of like you are in a time warp, really. I’ve seen probably going on the fourth generation now,” Davis said.
It is how North will go down in history: a school, a cornerstone of its community.
“I think that will be a legacy. A legacy of once a Raider, always a Raider. We will always take care of each other, because we are that kind of school I think,” said Owens.
As Davis retires, she leaves her time at Sullivan North in the past. But, she will carry the Raider pride with her forever. She encourages all North students past and present to do the same.
“A lot of people hate to see it go. But I think it will be a legacy of strength and something they will always remember. They will never forget it,” said Davis.
Sullivan North, Sullivan Central and Sullivan South students will consolidate in the fall of 2021 at the new West Ridge High School.