Bessemer High School — Greensboro, North Carolina

Reunion Apparel for Bessemer High School
Bessemer High School
E. Bessemer Ave.
Greensboro, NC

mascot: Whippets
colors: Maroon & Gray
Opened: 1911
Closed: 1963
A one-room log schoolhouse was opened in Bessemer, NC on Bessemer Ave. in 1900 with Walter Jones as its first principal. That original Bessemer School only housed the elementary grades. In 1911, a larger school was built on the same site and the number of grades were expanded to include all 12 grades. This was the beginning of Bessemer High School. It is likely that some of the dozens of one-room schoolhouses in Guilford County closed when Bessemer High School opened. Grades 1-3 were housed in one building, grades 4-8 in another, while grades 9-12 had their own building. At some point, grades 1-3 were moved into a new building on Huffine Mill Rd. and named Bessemer Primary School.

During the entire 52 year life of Bessemer High School, it only had three Principals. Professor W. E. Younts, a Guilford College graduate, was the first Principal and he served for 36 years until his retirement in 1947. William H. Cude was selected as the next Principal and he served until his death in 1962. (When Bessemer Primary School was opened, Mr. Cude’s wife was selected as its Principal.) Upon Mr. Cude’s death, Assistant Principal Robert L. Clendenin, a 1950 BHS grad, took over and served until the high school closed in 1963. (Here’s an excellent Interview with Bob Clendenin.) After the Bessemer High School students were merged with Page High School in 1963, Mr. Clendenin stayed on as Principal of Bessemer Junior High School, then later became the Principal at Page.

In 1957, the towns of Bessemer and Hamilton Lakes had successfully petitioned to be annexed into Greensboro. Even though Bessemer was then part of Greensboro, Bessemer schools continued to operate under the Guilford County school system. In 1963, the citizenry voted to move the school system from the Guilford County school system to Greensboro City Schools. This led to the merging of Bessemer High School into Page High School. (Greensboro City Schools then merged with Guilford County Schools in 1993.) Apparently, Bessemer continued as a Junior High until 1967 when it was merged into Aycock Junior High School. (If this is wrong, somebody please leave a comment below to correct me.)

Much of the above history came from Mr. Clendenin’s interview and this Bessemer School History.

At some point soon after the closing of Bessemer School, all of the buildings except the Gym were demolished and Erwin Elementary School (now Erwin Montessori) was built on the site. Here’s a Google Street View of what I believe may be the Bessemer High School gym. (Again, somebody please correct me if I’m wrong.)

The Bessemer High School sports teams were known as the Whippets. Whippets are sleek but muscular hunting dogs prized for their speed, power and agility.

Bessemer football players certainly lived up to the image. They were a powerhouse in 6-man football in the 1940’s, then continued the tradition after switching to an 11-player team in 1945. They were the North Carolina State Champions in 6-man football in 1941. In the 1950’s & 60’s, they made four trips to the State Finals game, but a second football State Championship eluded them. Still, being four time State Runners-Up is an accomplishment of which any school can be proud.
   1941 – 6-man State Champions   1953 – State Runner-up (lost to Massey Hill, 20-0)
   1954 – State Runner-up (lost to Edenton, 41-20)
   1958 – State Runner-up (lost to Williamston, 26-20)
   1962 – State Runner-Up (lost to Brevard, 19-13)

The Bessemer baseball team gave the school a going away present in 1963. The Whippets won the State Championship by defeating Chapel Hill, 5-2.

———————- Update added June 1, 2013 —————-
[The News-Times, Hendersonville, N.C., Saturday, June 1, 1963]
Hendersonville has been awarded the Western North Carolina 3-A high school baseball play-offs.
According to Hugh Lockaby, principal of Hendersonville High School, the Hendersonville Bearcats will meet Bessemer High School of Greensboro at Berkeley Park Wednesday afternoon for the Western North Carolina championship.
The winner of the Hendersonville-Bessemer game will meet the Eastern North Carolina winner in a two-out-of-three series for the State 3-A championship.
Bessemer defeated East Forsyth Thursday night 4 to 1 to earn the right to play Hendersonville which drew a first round bye.
The win Thursday night gave Bessemer a season record of 15 wins and one loss. The Greensboro team, being consolidated after this year, won a string of 32 consecutive games before losing to Madison-Mayodan this year.
During the stretch of the consecutive wins, Bessemer won three district championships and lost another in a play-off.
The pride and joy of the Bessemer team is pitcher Wayne Nunn whose three-year record reads 21-1. The 160-pound junior has a record of 10-1 this year. Standing 5′ 11″ tall, the right-hander is also one of the team’s leading hitters with a .450 plus average. He also leads the team in home runs with a total of five.
Other pitchers listed on the Bessemer squad are left-hander Wally Pegram and right-hander Buck Bain.
In addition to Nunn, other .450 plus hitters are catcher Elwood Baker and third baseman Roland Deaton.
East Forsyth went into Thursday’s night game with a record of 17-1.
Hendersonville fans may recall that Bessemer lost in the Western North Carolina football finals last fall to Brevard 19 to 13.
Bearcat Coach Jim Pardue scouted Bessemer in the Thursday night game played at East Forsyth.
“I have never seen a finer high school defensive baseball club than Bessemer,” Coach Pardue stated.
In discussing the Thursday night game, the Bearcat Coach said he thought Nunn pitched a fine game but he believed his boys can hit him.
“Bessemer is a team that just doesn’t make mistakes,” said the Bearcat coach as he continued to discuss the merits of his opposition.
The Bearcats will be without the service of one first string player. Greg Pittillo will not participate in the play-off game because of a summer job. Freshman Tommy Blankenship has been promoted from the freshman squad and will open in left field. Blankenship played one game with the varsity this season and acquitted himself well.
Harold Robertson, in a slump when the regular season ended, is now hitting the ball well. He is expected to give the Cats a big lift in the game Wednesday.
It took an all-day of dickering to get the game played in Hendersonville. Finally it was necessary for a coin to be flipped in the office of L. J. “Hap” Perry, NCHSAA executive secretary, to determine the site of the game.
A substantial guarantee is being paid to get the game here for local fans to witness. Tickets will be placed on sale at various uptown locations to be announced later,
Bessemer will arrive in Hendersonville Tuesday and work out at Berkeley Park. The team will be quartered on the Brevard College campus during its stay in this area.
The Bearcats finished in a three-way tie for second place in the Blue Ridge Conference with an over-all record of 9-and-5. Most observers agree the Bearcats were equally as good a team as any in the conference.
The Cats earned the right to advance when Brevard, conference winner, elected not to compete, and Enka and Waynesville, tied with the Cats for second, also chose not to play.
——————- [end of article] ——————-

——— Odds and Ends ———–

State Representative Joseph T. Carruthers, Jr. graduated from Bessemer High School in 1925.

Bessemer High School graduated 50 seniors in 1950, 62 in 1953.

Here’s a link to the Bessemer High School Alumni group on Facebook.

There’s a Bessemer Jr. High group on Facebook, but I saw some BHS folks on there, too.

There are over 200 Bessemer High School alumni on

Until it expires, you can read this interesting article about Bessemer: Humble Bessemer lives on in memories of school’s alumni.

If you grew up in Guilford County, you might find this post interesting: Old School: HS names from Guilford County’s past.

If you have memories of Bessemer High School, or you can add anything to this post, please leave a comment below.

43 thoughts on “Bessemer High School — Greensboro, North Carolina

  1. I was at Bessemer HS from from 1947 to 1957 ..Mr Cude was the Principal and Mrs Cude was my 3rd grade teacher….She always had English last and I was glad when she ran out of time and did not do english…I hated english….We lived on Sykes ave. I I walked to school everyday…Once in the 6th grade it was pouring rain and I was soaked by the time I got to school….my teacher Ms Brewer was going to send me home to change clothes even then I know I would be wet again when I got back…..I loved Bessemer….we move when I was in the 8th grade…So I had to go to Proximity for the 9th grade Then Page for High School …..I often wonder what happen to some of my childhood friends…especially some of my sweet hearts….

    1. Hi Mr. Vaughn, I have a class ring from Bessemer High School that I found as a little girl. I’ve tried to find the owner several times. The county schools will not give out any info… The owner may not be around but maybe some of her family are. It is a ladies ring, looks like the year is 1943, and the initials are C A R . Can anyone help? THanks

    2. Mr Vaughn, I’m trying to find some one that was a Bessemer from 1940,41,42,43 Can you help me? I have a class ring that I’m trying to track down the owner.

  2. I didn’t have the opportunity to go to Bessemer High, but was in elementary school when the high school merged. But I had 2 older sisters — one of which was a cheerleader (she had to go to Page for her senior year). My mom made her cheer outfit and made me a cheer outfit from the scraps of material left over. My family went to all the ball games — home and away — and I always wore my cheerleading outfit. What fun memories!

  3. Hi, Bobby, Great job with this website. i love the article you wrote about the history of Bessemer. So many of us have wonderful connections with the Bessemer community and are so happy to share our common roots. Thank you for a wonderful post. I hope you will also consider joining Facebook or if you are already on Facebook, please join our alumni facebook. Eddie Bigham has created a “Bessemer High School/Greensboro, NC/Whippets” Facebook Group. Please join us if you are an alumni, former principal, teacher and staff or child of these folks. Please search for friends by writing the search bar, “BESSEMER HIGH SCHOOL/GREENSBORO, NC/WHIPPETS.” Notices of alumni events are posted there, too. God Bless You All, especially BOBBY! Gloria

  4. I graduated in the last class of 1963. The only buildings that survive today are the gym and the cafeteria. I remember we washed our hands as we entered the cafeteria in a large sink that was operated by a foot pedal. I think it was arc shaped. Good school and good memories. Thanks for posting this.

  5. There is a reunion for Bessemer October 23rd 2010. You can contact Eddie Bigham at 1-336-674-1624. Cost is $18. time 12-4 at Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church

  6. You have some things in the history of Bessemer that are wrong. The first principal was Professor W. E. Younts. He served until 1947. Don’t know the one you are talking about. Mr Cude was Wendel Holmes Cude. He served until his death January 17, 1962. I graduated in 1962. I was very fond of Mr. Cude. Bob Clendenin became principal under Mrs. Cude’s supervision. I was the Secretary/Treasurer of Bessemer Elementary School (formerly Bessemer Primary) until my retirement in January 2008. I have proudly worn my class ring for the last 48 years. I got it in the 10th or 11th grade and have never taken it off. It is worn, just like me but I will forever be a Bessemer Alumni.

    1. Thanks for straightening me out, Barbara. I got the info about the principals from the Bessemer Elementary history page that I reference in the post, but I misread it. Mr. Jones was the original principal of the Bessemer School, which pre-dated Bessemer High School. We would appreciate any other facts and memories you’d care to share.

    2. Another error on your post is that Bessemer High School did not convert to 12 grades. My mother graduated from Bessemer and there were only 11 grades at that time (mid 1930’s). Of course, none of the high schools went beyond the 11th grade at that time.

  7. Please delete BessemerHighSchool/GreensboroNC/Whippets. People cannot access our fb because of it.
    Thanks, Gloria

    1. Hi, Gloria. Good to hear from you again. Thanks for the nice comments you left about our site earlier.
      The link from this page sends people directly to your Bessemer alumni FB page. I wish I knew how to interfere with people accessing FB; I could sell the idea & be rich! 🙂
      If people are having trouble reaching your group, it may be because there is a second Bessemer group that comes up in the FB search results if someone searches for BESSEMER HIGH SCHOOL/GREENSBORO, NC/WHIPPETS. Perhaps they are going to that page instead of yours?

  8. It was neat to read about BHS. My Class of 1961 is likely to have its 50th reunion this year. I was able to attend BHS all 12 years of public schooling and it was a terrific experience. The Cudes put up a basketball goal on the back of their garage and I spent considerable time wearing down the grass. My brother – Ray -attended through junior high and finished at Page which was an archrival. Mr. Bob Clendenin was a special person who helped me get my first teaching job out of college. To Gloria , I hope you are well and give my regards to Robert.

    1. Walter I remember you, you lived behind the baptist church, I also knew your dad at the supermarket he worked at on N. Elm street….I do not remember the street name but it was perpendicular to Holt ave, just past where the Cudes lived.

        1. I just came across the site and just can’t leave it! I went to Bessemer Jr. high in the early 60’s and then had to go to Page for HS. I loved that old school. I Remember Couch Steal (spelling) I had him for math and gym class. And another teacher we called ol man Latty? (no offense intended) Art class with Ms. Porter and My first real 15 year old love affair. Remember the old fire escapes on the back of the building? Like three stories and you could wiggle them, and the dungeon and having to go in the auditorium early to give Mr. latty your note to get out of school early. The covered walkways with “the Class of 47” painted on top of them. Heel taps in the long hall between the Office and the library, trying not to make too much noise. Smoking areas. But what made me write this is my first job was at the U-Save-it food store and I remember Mr. Pulliam very well. The store was owned by Mr. Mitchell. Small world! One Dollar an hour, But hey gas was a quarter. I’m sorry for rambling on here, I could write a book. Very Very fond memories. Thanks, Ron

    2. I went to Bessemer for 12 years…really enjoyed going to school with the teachers I had. Mr. Clendenin was my 8th grade teacher when he was drafted. Really hated to see him leave. Was so glad he came back to Bessemer. Hope all is well with you Walt.

      1. Stella,

        Yes – I finished in 1966 and went on to teach/coach awhile, did UNC grad school, and retired from the Va. Department of Corrections in 2009. We live in Richmond.

        It is good to hear from you and I hope you are doing well.



      1. In response to Alvin, I would note that the 1959 team which lost in the state finals to Williamston featured Peaches Brewer, Sammy Donnell, John Cleary, Winfred Jenkins, Ronald Harris, Clyde Simpson, Cliff Moore, and Jim McKenna among others. The 1963 team featured Larry McMasters, Gwen Brooks, Ron Kepley, Elwood Baker, Roland Deaton, Claude Bailey, and Jack Underwood among others. Both were fine teams.

  9. I really enjoyed the info about Bessemer High School. I was also lucky enough to attend for 12 years and graduate in 1962. Bessemer has several sites on facebook. First you have to on facebook and search Bessemer High School, NC. Several classes have their own sites. Everone that went to Bessemer should look up these sites. Try it, you might meet up with an old friend you haven’t heard from in years. There are also a lot of good pictures. You might be in some of them, also. You might have some info and pictures to add to the group. The site that says Whippetts, is for anyone that went to Bessemer, at any time. Go on the facebook site and ask to join and see what happens. I lived really close to the school, and I remember watching them build the gym. We were so proud of that gym. We all had to take off our shoes in order to walk on the gym floor. I also remember all the sockhops there.

  10. The BHS Class of 1961 held its 50th reunion on 9/17/11. It was a great event attended by about 1/2 of the classmates who are still living. We shared many fond memories. Many of us have siblings who also attended BHS. Regrettably, we have lost 13 from our original group and several are now struggling with health issues which inhibited their attendance.

  11. Bonnie’s son should try to reach Edd and Linda Bigham. They coordinate an All Class BHS reunion each year , usually in October. They should be commended for their efforts.

  12. I graduated from East Forsyth in 1963. We (East Forsyth) played Bessemer in the state 3 A baseball playoffs. I remember well that Bessemer had an outstanding pitcher. What was his name? I think that he had an Asian background.

  13. Hello!
    My mom, Mary Frances Winn, attended Bessemer High School in the last half of the 50’s. Her yearbooks were lost and I am trying to find her high school photo. Can anyone help???
    Thank you so much!

  14. My dad, Dave Nance attended Bessemer High School in the later 40’s. He played baseball, football and basketball. I can remember him telling me a lot of stories about him and his brothers who also attended Bessemer High. His brothers names were Bill and Tommy Nance.

  15. I attended Aycock from 1967-1970 and Bob Clendenin was principal then. Aycock was for grades 1-9; the mascot remained the Whippets and colors were grey and burgandy, Later, when Aycock became strictly a junior high school, Clendenin became Principal at Page. Aycock then changed their mascot and colors.

  16. I attended Bessemer grades 1-12, graduating in 1957. I have lived in Texas since 1963. My father graduated from Bessemer in 1930. I had the same first grade teacher he had (Mrs. Fryrear (sp.?)). I still remember most of my teachers, all favorably. Our graduating class was only about 55. When contacted about a reunion several years ago, I learned that 18 or so has passed away — a large percentage for such a small class. Considering today’s environment I feel growing up in that era was really a blessing.

  17. Hello – My late mother Theba Ann WARD graduated from Bessemer High. She was born in 1924 and I would like to confirm the year of her graduation if high school records from that time still exist. I believe she was her class valedictorian. Can you help or advise me as to some sources that I may inquire into possibly for this subject. Thank you for your time. Sarah

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *