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South marking 25th anniversary
Gala scheduled Saturday night
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Forsyth County News

Flooding closes Post Road

By: Jim Dean

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When Troy Brumbelow entered his senior year, he had to leave many friends behind as he was redistricted to the new South Forsyth High School.

“It was a different school, but it was a lot of the same faces,” Brumbelow said. “There were some I went to school with since kindergarten, but then you also become friends with some you didn’t even know.”

These days, redistricting is a regular occurrence for Forsyth’s high schools. But when it happened to Brumbelow and his friends in 1989, it was a first for the school district. South opened that year, relieving a crowded Forsyth County High School that has since become Forsyth Central.

“I wouldn’t have traded it for anything,” Brumbelow said. “Not that there was anything wrong with Central, but I have nothing but fond memories of going to South that first year.”

Not only was Brumbelow a member of South’s first graduating class in 1990, he was senior class president and valedictorian. Giving the inaugural valedictorian speech at graduation was historical, he said.

“I spent several weeks working on that one,” he said. “I was pretty nervous.”

Brumbelow will be giving another speech Saturday, when the school holds its 25-year anniversary gala at 7 p.m. in the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center.

Though the class of 1990 has gathered for previous reunions, Brumbelow said they’ve always been combined with Central’s. The gala will be the first time the class will reunite just as the graduates of South.

“I know a lot of people that are going and I’m hoping to see a lot of others that I haven’t seen in a long time,” he said.

The event is also open to anyone currently or formerly affiliated with South, including alumni and family of any class, as well as former teachers, administrators and staff. Current students, parents and staff are also welcome.

Jeff Cheney, current principal at South, said the school opened in 1981 as a junior high before high school students began attending in 1989.

“As a result of the tremendous population growth within the county, our school reached a peak enrollment of 2,804 students in 2006,” he said. “Since then, Forsyth County Schools opened two new sister high schools, leading to our current enrollment of 2,500 students.

“Throughout the years, South Forsyth High School has established a tradition of excellence.”

During the past quarter century, the school has added an International Baccalaureate program, Advanced Placement course offerings and much technology. South also has been recognized as one of the nation’s best high schools by Newsweek magazine and the Washington Post.

“We also take tremendous pride in the academic rigor offered at our school,” Cheney said. “Our Advanced Studies program maintains an open-door policy and over 25 AP course offerings, while our IB diploma program is one of only 26 in the state.

“We feel that offering varied opportunities for student involvement ultimately leads to student success.”

Brumbelow said he’s also noticed a difference, not just at South, but in the county’s education over the years.

“We’ve made a lot of progress in the last 25 years,” said Brumbelow, who now roots for Central again, as his freshman son is on the school’s junior varsity football team.

Because growth was comparatively slow and steady when Brumbelow was in high school, South had enough room to house the new high school students, as well as the middle-schoolers who were there. He said the two levels were kept separate but shared a campus.

Now, new schools are nearly at capacity the year they open.  The growth has also changed the makeup of Brumbelow’s native Forsyth.

“I’ve been a builder for 20 years so I’ve seen all the growth,” he said. “South was kind of the beginning of the explosive growth in the county and it’s just changed tremendously in the last 25 years.  The south end of the county then was still rural. It wasn’t anything like it is now.”