History of Southside High School
Southside High School, now in its 58th year, opened in the fall of 1963 under the direction of Victor E. Stewart who remained as Principal of Southside for 19 years until his retirement at the end of the 1981-82 school year. Southside opened with 971 students in grades 7-10 and a staff of 37 teachers, 3 administrators, 1 counselor, 4 secretaries, 4 custodians, and 4 cafeteria workers.
In 1982-83 Wayne Haver became the second principal of Southside and retired following his 36th year in 2017-18 with a total of 48 years in the district. Mr. Haver held a Masters Degree in Educational Administration as well as an Educational Specialist Degree and was named the 2014 National Educational Administrator of the Year.
In the 2018-19 school year Lisa Miller became the third Principal of Southside High School. Ms. Miller came to Southside after serving as Principal at the Van Buren Freshman Academy for the past six years. She is the first secondary principal in Arkansas to earn the designation of master principal.
In the 2019-20 school year the enrollment in grades 10-12 was 1375 students, with 438 sophomores, 484 juniors, and 443 seniors. Southside presently has a staff of 116 teachers, 4 administrators, 4 counselors, 2 librarians, 1 nurse, 1 school resource officer, 9 secretaries, 10 paraprofessionals, 13 custodians, and 9 cafeteria workers, for a total of 169 staff members.
The original building of 44 classrooms was added to in 1968 with a nine room wing, in 1973 with a 12 room wing, in 1977 with a 600 seat auditorium, in 1978 with an all-weather track, in 1981 with a physical education facility, in 1988 with a new stadium, in 1992 with a 10 room business wing and a cafeteria addition. An athletic addition that includes a weight room, dressing room, training area, and office space was completed in July 1997, and a new 12 classroom science addition and library and office expansion was completed for the 1998-99 school year. A fine arts complex was completed in August 2000 that added new band and orchestra, choral, drama, and counseling facilities. An activities center was completed in June 2008. In 2011, all the windows in the building were replaced with energy efficient windows, the front of the campus was landscaped, and both parking lots were resurfaced and landscaped. Also in 2011, artificial turf was installed on the football field. With all the additions and interior renovations, there are 103 teaching stations.
In November 2019, the first phase of a $35 million, multi-phase construction project for Southside began. The construction project, which will change the look of the high school significantly, is expected to take 20 months with an expected completion date in August 2021. The SHS project will include a 12-classroom freshman center addition and a new competition gym with seating for at least 2,300 and an integrated storm shelter, along with a new standalone storm shelter, cafeteria renovation, media center renovation, new administrative office addition and possible South Gym renovation.
The first graduating class was the Class of 1966 with 282 graduates. The Class of 2018 was the largest graduating class with 516 graduates. Southside had its 10,000th graduate in the Class of 1991, its 15,000th graduate in the Class of 2003 and its 20,000th graduate in the Class of 2014.
Southside was recognized as a “School of Excellence" by the U.S. Department of Education in May, 2000, for the third time. In 1982-83 Southside received its first “School of Excellence" recognition. In 1986-87, the first year any previously selected school was eligible to be renominated, Southside was one of only four schools nationally to be selected to repeat as a “School of Excellence." Southside now proudly flies three flags for "Excellence in Education" presented by Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and Bill Clinton at ceremonies held in Washington, D.C. Southside has also been named as one of "America's Top Schools" by Newsweek magazine for 10 consecutive years. Most recently, the Southside High School Band is the 2014-15 National Winner of the National Blue Ribbon Band of Excellence by the National Band Association. On July 27, 2015, the Fort Smith School Board voted to change the Southside fight song "Dixie" immediately for the 2015-16 school year and the Rebel mascot for the 2016-17 school year. A fourteen member committee of students, faculty and alumni chose the "Wabash Cannonball" as the new fight song. A thirty member committee made up of faculty, students, alumni, and citizens, met several times during the fall of 2015 and selected the name "Mavericks" to replace "Rebels" and a new mascot logo was also selected. During the spring and summer of 2016 new uniforms for the various athletic teams and band were ordered and all Rebel signage was replaced. After 53 years of being the Southside Rebels a new legacy began in the 2016-17 school year as the Southside Mavericks.