The History of Northside High
Northside High School (NHS), located in the northern section of Roanoke County, Virginia, first opened in December, 1960. Since that time, the surrounding area and the student body have changed considerably. Although still somewhat rural in some areas, this section of the county has become more commercialized and industrialized. New homes, subdivisions of single-and multi-family dwellings, and apartment complexes have also been built during this time. The extensions of I-81 and most recently Peters Creek Road have made this part of the county accessible. As the area has grown, the population has become more diverse and the socioeconomic level has risen.
NHS is located near Roanoke City, Salem City and the town of Vinton. The immediate area offers numerous educational, cultural, recreational, and civic opportunities. The Roanoke Valley has six diverse colleges and an university as well as centers for bachelors and masters programs from colleges and universities throughout the state. Several acting and musical groups, amateur and professional, perform in their own theaters, and a fine arts center is located in the historic City Market of Roanoke City. Several museums in the area celebrate such diverse subjects as transportation and African-American history. The Explore Park off the Blue Ridge Parkway offers visitors a “living history” of the era during colonial times. The area’s ice hockey, football, soccer, basketball and baseball teams play in the area, and several private and public golf courses are available. Although boating and fishing on a limited basis are available at Carvins Cove and on the Roanoke River, extensive recreational opportunities exist at nearby Smith Mountain Lake. The Parkway and the Appalachian Trail also provide scenic locations for outdoor activities. An airport, several shopping centers, two regional hospital systems, and even a small zoo also serve the valley.
NHS is one of five high schools in the Roanoke County School System. William Byrd High School is located in Vinton, Glenvar High School services the area west of Salem, while Southwest County is the home to Cave Spring and Hidden Valley High Schools.
Initially, the original student body of NHS consisted of grades seven through ten with students coming from William Byrd High School and Andrew Lewis High School, now part of the Salem school system. In 1962, the student body was comprised of grades eight through twelve. The Class of 1963 had the honor of being the first graduating class of NHS. When Northside Intermediate School opened in 1970, the eighth grade remained at the intermediate school, leaving the high school with grades nine through ten. In 1973, the ninth grade remained at the intermediate school, which then became a junior high, and NHS became a senior high school. In 1977, Roanoke City annexed a portion of north county, reducing NHS’s enrollment, which has remained fairly stable at each grade level in recent years with a graduating class of 240 to 270. In 1994, the junior high became a middle school with NHS once again having grades nine through twelve. Today students from Glen Cove, Burlington, Mountain View, and Mason’s Cove Elementary Schools attend Northside Middle School prior to coming to NHS.
As the population has changed, the building has aged, and the educational needs of the student body have increased, NHS has undergone several expansions. Because of the initial rapid growth in the school population, the back wing was added in 1965-66. The auxiliary gym was completed during the 1985-86 school year, and E-Hall was added in 1994 to accommodate the conversion of the junior high into a middle school and to provide facilities for the students with special needs. Although school bus transportation is available for all students, many drive, making the addition of the senior parking lot in 1994 much needed. A gym facility for the use of both the middle and high schools was built in 1997.
In addition to course offerings at NHS, students may also take courses at the Arnold R. Burton Technology Center, the Roanoke Valley Governor’s School for Science and Technology, and other county schools, which offer courses, such as AP Art, not available at NHS. Several courses are a part of the electronic classroom program, which allows students at all five high schools to take the courses simultaneously with the same instructors. Students may also enroll in several courses offered in the high school for dual credit in conjunction with Virginia Western Community College, and some students are taking courses on the actual community college campus or on-line with the college. Students may also take advantage of special options such as attending the Roanoke County Career Center or attending adult-education night classes to obtain a GED. Students may be graduated with Standard, Modified Standard, Advanced Studies, or Individual Educational Plan (IEP) diplomas. Prior to registration, students receive a registration guide outlining all courses and prerequisites and the state requirements for the Standard and Advanced Studies diplomas.