The Early years
On September 11, 1922, South Side High School opened its doors to students for the first time. The idea of a second high school in the city of Fort Wayne became a reality in 1920 when Fort Wayne High School, later known as Central High School, became overcrowded. As a site for the new high school, the school board chose a tract of land on South Calhoun Street close to the city limits. The land on which the school was constructed had been used for gardens by the residents. The land on which the football field was constructed was rather flat. This site had previously been occupied by the Kaylor Brickyard. At the present north entrance of South Side, where Darrow Avenue once ran, there used to be a creek called Shawnee Creek, or Shawnee Run. A bridge spanned the creek close to the present north entrance to the school. After Calhoun Street was paved, the creek gradually filled up with rubbish and trash. When South Side opened, it was said to have been the largest one-story school in the country. The building itself covered three acres and the normal capacity was 1,500 students.
In the first year, classes were primarily held in the south part of the building because the north section, particularly in the area of the Gymnasium, had not as yet been completed. Desks and other furnishings had not been delivered to classrooms. As a result, students frequently had to sit on nail kegs. Half-day sessions were held for several weeks until October 30, 1922 when the first full-day session took place. To further complicate matters, the approximately 800 high school students shared the building with 510 grade school students. The South Side Grade School continued to be part of the faculty until the Autumn of 1925 when Harrison Hill School opened. Mr. Herbert Voorhees, long time South Side Chemistry teacher, commented on the early weeks of classes as saying: "Since there was no door to my room, I shouted chemical symbols above the accompaniment of a concrete mixer in the place where the gym now is."
South Side's First Principal
South Side High School's first principal was Robert C. Harris. Mr. Harris taught in several rural Indiana communities and during the 1913-1914 school year he was the principal of Central High School in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In 1917, Mr. Harris joined the faculty of Fort Wayne High School where he taught physics for five years. He was our proud leader at South Side for 4 years. For the next twenty years, he was principal at James H. Smart School, retiring in 1946. He had many outside interests. He became an expert on Johnny Appleseed. In addition, he was the writer of two math textbooks. Among his talents, Mr. Harris was an inventor. He developed an electrical pulse generator in 1937 which was transformed in 1942 into a trigger device used on bazookas and other rocket launcher guns. A magnetic firing key, a relay activator, an automatic contact maker, a vision coin counter, an alphabetizer, model railroad devices and a range finder were among Mr. Harris' the other creations. On May 1, 1957, it was announced that Mr. Harris had been named the Teacher of the Nation for the year by the National Council of the Senior League.
Pep Sessions and Green and White
Late in September of 1922, the students of South Side High School held a pep session in the partially completed gym. At that session, green and white were unanimously selected as the school colors. A song written by student Paul T. Hahn, entitled "Our School" -sometimes referred to as "To The School That Has No Equal"- was adopted as the school song.
The South Side Times
The First Issue of the School Newspaper, the South Side Times, a four-page version, was printed on October 6, 1922. Ruth Wagner was the first editor-in chief. For the next two decades, the South Side Times consistently won top honors from several scholastic press associations including "Best High School Paper in Indiana," "Best High School Paper East of the Mississippi," and "Best High School Paper in the United States."
Hood, G. Stanley, "South Side High School, The First Seventy-Five Years", Fort Wayne, Indiana, Lincoln Printing Corporation, 1996