Riverside High School alumni celebrate new memorial

Hamilton County Mayor Weston Wamp unveils designs for new memorial marker to honor school

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) — 1983, 40 years ago, marked the end of Riverside High School — known today as the Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences.

Riverside High was once home to Samuel L. Jackson, Dr. Richard Brown and a dominant basketball program that won three state championships.

Although the school only lived for two decades, Hamilton County Mayor Weston Wamp and school alumni unveiled a new memorial tonight that will ensure it lives on forever.

For 20 years, Riverside High School served as a beacon of academic excellence and athletic dominance.

On Tuesday night, Mayor Wamp and his team officially unveiled the official designs for a new memorial marker that will make sure the school’s legacy never dies.

“If you think about the moment when this school opened, you were just months after Martin Luther King Jr. declares his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech,” Wamp said. “Students came into these hallways and out into the world and ran a lot of teams out of that basketball gym.”

In two decades, Riverside won a trio of Tennessee state basketball championships in 1968, ’69, and ’72.

But while the school took pride in its work on the court, former student David Crutcher says student life was just as good everywhere else.

“We were just blessed to be in a school like this with the help that we got from our administrators and teachers,” Crutcher said. “It will live forever in my heart. For most people that went to Riverside, it will live in their hearts also because we had fun [and] enjoyed life. It was just a tremendous experience to be here those years.”

Former Riverside Teacher Charlaine Price also says the school was special.

She hopes when the official memorial is unveiled, that future students look at it as if “they’re standing on the shoulders of former giants” who established the building’s reputation.

“Now that we’ve captured the true title of it — the old Riverside High School — [it] makes us smile, makes Riverside continue to shine,” Price said.

Former Student Emma Cox was also quick to thank the Hamilton County Mayor, as alumni rejoiced that long after they’re gone, their legacy never will be.

“We would like to thank Mayor Wamp for being able to have this great plaque put inside of Riverside,” Cox said.”If it was not for him, we wouldn’t have it.”

“I’m just so happy that I had this experience,” Price said. “Of all the places I could have taught, I don’t think I would have taught at a better place than here.”

Price said that her first year teaching at Riverside in 1970 was also the year she graduated from Tennessee State.

When she started teaching, she says she was only four years older than many she taught and had to act more mature to earn their respect.

Surrounded by plenty of former students Tuesday night, she believes she earned not just their respect, but also their friendship.

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