Our History

    In 1965 the voters of Cleveland County made a commitment to their children.  County residents voted 3,420 to 1,615 to authorize $3,250,000 in construction bonds for two new high schools.  One was to be built in the southern end of the county and the other in the north.  The southern campus was to be called CREST, which was an acronym for Cleveland Rural Education Stands Together.

     Crest High School opened in the fall of 1967 as Cleveland County consolidated four older schools.  These four included Camp High and Green Bethel, which were turn of the century style wooden structures.  Also, Township #3 High School and Boiling Springs High School (called Old Crest) were closed as these students became the first Chargers.

     Edward B. Clayton, who had served as principal at Boiling Springs High School since 1957, was named principal of the new school along with Assistant Principal Gail Bridges.  The community got its first look inside the brand new fully air conditioned school at open house on November 12, 1967.  Visitors were impressed with folding partitions between rooms and a gymnasium that could be isolated from the rest of the building for community activities.  The new schools was 129,244 sq. ft. on a campus of 82.2 acres.

     Crest High School's reputation for academic excellence quickly grew with the addition of an exceptional teaching staff.  Probably the best known in the school's first years was English teacher Frances Kiser.  On November 1, 1973 Dallas Herring, chairman of the North Carolina Board of Education, recognized Mrs. Kiser as the state teacher of the year.  Mrs. Kiser was selected from fourteen regional finalists for the state's highest educational recognition.

     Probably the best known student athlete to ever graduate from Crest High School was David Thompson.  Under Coach Ed Peeler's leadership and David Thompson's skill, the Chargers won the SW Conference in 1971 with a record of 20-0.  David went on to play for the NC State Wolfpack after his graduation from Crest in 1971.  While playing for the Chargers, David broke almost all high school records.  He was all-state in 1970 and 1971, all-conference 69, 70, and 71.  David Thompson was the NC player of the year in 1971 and held the all-time leading scorer record at Crest.  (The record was finally broken by women's basketball player LaQuandra Dawkins in 1994 with a career 1,868 points.)  Not only did Crest honor David Thompson by retiring his jersey, but NC State University and the Denver Nuggets did the same thing years later.  But Crest isn't just a basketball school. Other Chargers have excelled in football over the years.  Tim Ramseur, Chris Coleman, and Shamar Finney also saw their jerseys retired years later.

     Crest High School also has a rich tradition in academics and boasts scores of Advanced Placement and Honors sections.  Lynn Lavender, Class of 1985, and Chris Miller, Class of 1989, were selected by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as Morehead Scholars.  Victoria Strokanova, Crest Class of 2001, was a Reynolds Scholar at Wake Forest University.  In 1993, David McSwain was recognized by President Bill Clinton as one of only 100 Presidential Scholars in the nation.  David traveled with his family to Washington to meet with the President and US Secretary of Education in  a ceremony on the White House east lawn.  And in 2000, Donnie Thurman was elected as Beta Club national vice president.  In 1986 Crest High Principal Dr. George Litton led a delegation to the White House to meet with President Ronald Reagan.  The President named Crest High School as one of the US Department of Education's Schools of Excellence.

     Crest High School is currently known throughout the state for excellence in football.  The Chargers won state championships in 1994, 1996, 2003, and 2004.  In addition, the Chargers have won a score of conference championships as well as the Western Regional Championship in 2001.

     Chargers have excelled in numerous sports over the school's history.  Lee Gragg won a state wrestling championship in 1986.  The 1982 women's basketball team was the state AAA runner-up.  The volleyball team was the 1993 AAAA Western Champion.  And, in 1985 the men's golf team was state runner-up.  And, as recently as 2005, the men's basketball team was the Western Regional Champion.

     Other areas of Crest High School have seen changes over the years.  Crest Junior High School opened a short distance from Crest High School in the fall of 1976.  The ninth grade was moved from the high school at that time and only three grades remained.  Crest High had much more room and the name of the school then included the name "Senior" to distinguish it from the junior high.

     The population and physical needs of Crest Senior High School continued to grow during the 1980's and new construction was needed when a decision was made to send the ninth grade back to the high school in 1990.  Major renovation and new construction took place prior to the opening of the 1990-91 school year.  The addition of a new math and business wing to the school, as well as a new modern chorus room and art classroom made space available in the rest of the school.  The vocational wing of Crest also received major renovation at the time.  The addition of the ninth grade resulted in the name of the school changing back to Crest High School from Crest Senior High School.  Later construction saw the addition of a modern athletic training building and a new field house in 2004.  Exterior walls were moved to significantly expand the size of the library.  And, interior walls were removed to double the capacity of the cafeteria.  Unattractive but functional mobile classrooms now surround the school.  

      The curriculum at Crest High has seen impressive and remarkable growth over the last years.  Air Force Junior ROTC has been added to the school, the first such program in Cleveland County.  Wireless internet and laptop computers are in use in every academic area.  The fine arts department has been expanded to include the county's largest string orchestra.  In 2004 the federal government awarded Crest High School a grant of just under $1 million as the social studies department directed a program to improve teaching of US history at other area high schools.

     Crest has been blessed with strong leadership and stability in the principal's office.  E.B. Clayton served as the school's first principal for sixteen years until he retired in 1983.  Dr. George Litton, who had been assistant principal, served the school as principal for an additional twelve years, followed by Roger McSwain who served as Crest principal from 1995 until 2002.  Roger Harris, who began his teaching career at Crest High in 1977, succeeded Mr. McSwain from 2002 until 2012.   Stephen Fisher provided leadership in an interim capacity until Mr. Gary Blake came to Crest in 2011.  Mr. Blake retired in 2012, followed by Mr. Rodney Graves who came to Crest in 2013, and now the current principal, Holly Robinson.

     In recent years the school has had a strong commitment to community service and building student character.  The school routinely wins awards from the United Way, the Red Cross, the American Cancer Society, Relay for Life and churches for the leadership in community service displayed by Crest students.  The Chargers have raised thousands of dollars in recent years for those in our community and around the world who are in need.  Crest High has become a beacon of shining light in the community for helping others.

     Academic rigor, service to others, athletic championships, and a caring community all define Crest High School in the new century.  Crest Chargers hold themselves to the highest standards. 

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