RJR History


Important Historical Events of R.J. Reynolds High School

Reynolds High School in the 1910′s

  • 1918: Richard J. Reynolds dies at age 68.
  • 1919: Charles Barton Keen, the architect of the Reynolda House, designs the school.

Reynolds High School in the 1920′s

  • 1922: Construction begins on the school building early in the year. Construction on the Auditorium doesn’t start until July.
  • Jan. 9, 1923, Tuesday Evening: After reopening from Christmas vacation that day, the old Winston High School (a.k.a. Cherry Street High) is gutted by a great fire.
  • Jan. 15, 1923: The news, yet uncompleted, school building holds classes for the first time.
  • June 1923: Volume 12 of the Black and Gold is printed. This time, however, the yearbook carries the R.J.Reynolds High School name instead of Winston High School.
  • May 8, 1924: The Richard J. Reynolds Memorial Auditorium is dedicated. A few weeks later, it holds its first commencement exercises.
  • May 24, 1924: Katharine Reynolds Johnston dies in a New York hospital after giving birth to a son. On May 26, a public memorial service is held-standing room only–in the Auditorium which she had built but never saw completed. Area offices, stores, and businesses are closed in memoriam.
  • Nov. 17, 1924: The first issue of the Pine Whispers newspaper is distributed.
  • Nov. 24, 1924: Harry Houdini performs in the Auditorium. (The trapdoor on the stage is still “nicknamed” in his honor.)
  • 1926: Field Hockey team wins state championship.

Reynolds High School in the 1930′s

  • Spring 1933: B.C. Dunford, Jr. ’33 composes the school song “Her Portals Tall and Wide”.

Reynolds High School in the 1940′s

  • December 8, 1941, Monday: The student body gathers in the gym to hear President Roosevelt’s Declaration of War speech.
  • 1945: Golf team wins state championship.
  • January 1948: Key Club is founded. On May 21, they host the school’s annual “Variety Show” – a predecessor to the Key Club Follies.
  • 1948-49: Senior Service Club’s (SSC) first year.
  • 1949: Basketball team wins state championship
  • Spring 1949: Tommye Ring ’49 composes the new Alma Mater “Amid the Pines”. The old song “Her Portals Tall and Wide” becomes school hymn.

Reynolds High School in the 1950′s

  • 1951: Golf team wins state championship
  • Dec. 3, 1952: Football team wins state championship
  • 1953: Track team wins state championship
  • 1955: Track team wins state championship
  • Nov. 28, 1957: The Dancing Boots give their first performance at the Piedmont Bowl in Bowman Gray Stadium.
  • 1958: Football team wins state championship
  • Dec. 6, 1959: The Band and Boots perform at the Washington Redskins game.

Reynolds High School in the 1960′s

  • 1962: Track team wins state championship
  • 1963: Winston-Salem and Forsyth County consolidate schools into one system.
  • 1964: Football team wins state championship
  • 1966: Bob Deaton becomes principal
  • Spring 1968: The nickname “Society Hill” surfaces from rival schools. The golf team wins state championship.
  • Fall 1968: New girls’ gym and history building are opened. History building is attached to cafeteria built in the late ’50′s. Girls’ gym is to the right of the old gym.

Reynolds High School in the 1970′s

  • Fall 1971: Due to a court ruling on required busing, the school system creates a two-year junior high-school, high school and senior high-school system. Reynolds becomes an 11th and 12th grade senior high school with graduating classes often numbering more than 800.
  • Spring 1973: The Black and Gold staff produces a commemorative 50th Anniversary history of Reynolds.
  • 1974-1978: Cross Country team’s reign of the state championships.
  • 1975: Basketball team wins state championship.
  • 1976: Tennis team wins state championship.

Reynolds High School in the 1980′s

  • 1981: 58th Graduating Class. Largest graduating class in NC that year --- 751 students!   And the best ever!!
  • 1982-83: Reynolds observes its 60th Anniversary with assemblies, guest alumni teachers, and a special Homecoming Parade.
  • Spring 1984: Swimming team wins state championship.
  • Fall 1984: RJR opens for the first time as a four-year high school due to school system’s restructuring. (Mount Tabor returns to being a rival school.)
  • June 1985: The boy’s gym is named for retiring athletic director Herman Bryson.
  • 1985: Girls tennis team wins state championship.

Reynolds High School in the 1990′s

  • 1991: Girls Tennis team wins state championship.
  • 1991: Principal Bob Deaton retires
  • Summer 1991: Major renovations begin on the third floor.
  • Spring 1992: The R.J. Reynolds High School Alumni & Friends, Inc. is organized.
  • Oct. 31, 1993: The main school building, after a $6.5 million renovation, is rededicated in a service that also commemorates the 70th Anniversary of the school.
  • Sept. 9, 1994: The Reynolds-Parkland stadium on Clemmonsville Road is dedicated as the Deaton-Thompson Stadium in honor of former RJR principal Bob Deaton and former Parkland football coach, Homer Thompson.
  • Spring 1997: The 75th class graduates from R.J. Reynolds High School.

Reynolds High School in the 2000′s

  • May 2000-September 2002: Reynolds Auditorium is closed for renovations. Graduation Exercises are held at the Coliseum.
  • 2000-2002: The men’s basketball teams reign as state championships. The three consecutive trophies is an N.C. record.
  • 2000: The Women’s track teams wins the state championship.
  • Sept. 14, 2001: All college and professional football games for the weekend have been postponed due to the national crisis. However, high school football is allowed to play. Reynolds plays at East Forsyth.
  • Spring 2002: RJR’s 80th class graduates in the Coliseum.
  • May 2003: Class of ’03 donates the portrait of Principal Stan Elrod.
  • December 2004: The granite obelisk monument to Katherine Smith (Reynolds) Johnston is relocated to the school campus.
  • Stan Elrod leaves Reynolds to become principal at Reagan, a newly created high school in Pfafftown. Tony Mills is named interim principal.
  • 2005: Dr. Art Paschal becomes Reynolds High School’s 6th principal.
  • October 2007: Reynolds becomes a Magnet School for Visual and Performing Arts.
  • May 2008: Reynolds inducts 12 into its inaugural Sports Hall of Fame class.

New Information from RJR website: www.RJRAlumni.org 

Reynolds High School became an Arts Magnet school is 2007.  Since then...

  • Graduation rates have increased from 63% in 2007 to 87.4% in 2019 (and it should be noted that the State changed the way graduation rates are reported.  RJR's graduation rate is above the district and state average).
  • College attendance rates have increased from 74% in 2008 to 87% in 2019!
  • Dropout rates have decreased froom 7.3% in 2008 to 1.96% in 2018!
  • Scholarships have increased from $8.5 million is 2009 to $11 million in 2019!

The words today are the same as in 1949 when they were first written:


"Amid the pines,

she proudly stands,

To her our voices rise.

We shall always love her...

Dear old Reynolds High."

"Our school

of great tradition,

Gives us all ambition.

Alma mater, Alma mater,

Hail our Alma Mater!"