Virgil Grissom High School

Virgil Grissom High School

Infobox Secondary school
name = Virgil I. Grissom High School

type = Public
city = Huntsville
state = Alabama
country = USA
established = 1969
accreditation = Southern Association of Secondary Schools
principal = B. T. Drake
grades = High school (9-12)
enrollment = 2000+ (2006-2007)
mascot = Tigers (Gus)
newspaper = "The Imprint"
colors = Orange, Brown, and White
website = [ GHS official website]

Virgil I. Grissom High School is a public high school in Huntsville, Alabama with approximately 2000 students in grades 9-12 from Southeast Huntsville. Grissom is widely recognized as one of the best public high schools in the state of Alabama. In the "Newsweek" ranking of schools throughout the nation for 2008, Grissom High School was ranked fifth best in the state and 708th nationally.cite news |url= |title=The Top of the Class: The complete list of the 1,300 top U.S. high schools |work=Newsweek |accessdate=2008-07-10] Grissom was the only high school in Huntsville to make the 2008 list.


The school is located in Southeast Huntsville and serves a middle to upper-middle class neighborhood. The suburban middle schools within the area include: Mountain Gap Middle School, Challenger Middle School, and Whitesburg Middle School.


Grissom High School was founded in 1969 and is named for astronaut Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, killed in the Apollo 1 fire at Cape Kennedy on January 27, 1967. Huntsville is home to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and has strong community ties to the space program. At the same time, the Huntsville City Schools named Roger B. Chaffee Elementary and Ed White Middle School for Grissom's fallen Apollo 1 crewmates.

Academic achievement

In 2007, "Newsweek" magazine ranked Grissom among the top 5% of all high schools in the United States. The school was ranked 531 among the top 1200 high schools in the nation based on the number of Advanced Placement, Cambridge tests, and/or International Baccalaureate tests taken by all students at a school and then dividing by the number of graduating seniors.cite news |url= |work=Birmingham Business Journal |title=Irondale school among nation's best |first=Jimmy |last=DeButts |date=2007-05-21]

Grissom produced 28 National Merit Semifinalists for 2007, the highest number in the state.cite news |url= |title=Grissom puts 28 in Merit semifinals |work=Huntsville Times] Grissom's math teams and academic team have also earned national recognition. Grissom's 2007 Science Olympiad state team placed 2nd at the state competition at Samford University. They participated in the National Science Olympiad competition in Kansas in May 2007.

Notable alumni

* Michael E. Brown, class of 1983, is a professor of planetary astronomy at the California Institute of Technology.
* Spike McRoy, class of 1986, is a professional golfer on the PGA Tour and Nationwide Tour.
* Gary Wheat, class of 1996, is a saxophonist and a member of the funk group Meteorite.
* Marvin Stone, class of 1999, was a professional basketball player.
* Jon Sumrall, class of 2001, was a football player University of Kentucky and is a college football coach.
* Jayson Swain, class of 2003, was briefly a wide receiver for the Chicago Bears.

Notable former faculty

Kay Cornelius, who taught in the English department at Grissom for the majority of her 30-year teaching career, is a published author with more than a dozen books to her credit. [cite web |url= |title=Authors: Kay Cornelius |work=Barbour Publishing] She also wrote test units for the PSAT and College Board specialized-subject achievement tests, as well as reviewing the Board's English literature examination. Her first novel, "Love's Gentle Journey" was published in 1985. Cornelius retired from teaching to write full-time in 1990. [cite web |url= | |title=Children's Author/Illustrator Kay Cornelius]

Edward S. Dravecky Jr., the last teacher at Grissom to have taught there every year since it opened in 1969, retired in May, 2007, after 45 years of service in the Huntsville City Schools.cite news |title=He's an important part of Grissom history |work=Huntsville Times |date=2007-04-16] cite news |last=Zollar |first=Mary Anne |url= |title=City Life: Huntsville City Schools honors retirees |work=Huntsville Times |date=2007-05-20] He founded the school's Advanced Placement U.S. History course in 1984.


The high school's building contained no classroom windows, save for a small one in room FF4, prior to the addition of a new science wing in 1997. This addition added several windows in H and HH pods. Grissom's roughly octagonal building is divided into "pods", lettered A-H on the first floor and AA-HH on the second.

The main hallways are adjoined by a single story circular commons, which provides access to the gyms, lunchrooms, and a fine arts area including a band room, choral room, and an auditorium. Grissom has one main gym and one auxiliary gym. It also has one main lunchroom and one senior lunchroom.

Advanced Placement classes

Grissom High School offers the most Advanced Placement Program courses in the area [cite web |work=Grissom High official website |url= |title=Counselor's profile of Grissom High School] , including, but not limited to:

Students from Grissom can participate in a dual enrollment program and take classes at the University of Alabama in Huntsville or at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa through correspondence. [cite web |url= |work=University of Alabama in Huntsville |title=UAH Dual Credit Program]


As of 2007, Grissom has football, boys/girls basketball, volleyball, baseball, cross country, track, golf, swim/dive, boys/girls soccer, boys/girls tennis, wrestling, and cheerleading teams, a dance program directed by Stephanie Braly-Beutjer, a choral program directed by Elizabeth Stephenson, a theatre program directed by Lydia Marsh, [cite web |work=Grissom High official website |url= |title=Grissom High School sports directory] as well as marching, symphonic, and jazz bands directed by Bill Connell and Theo Vernon. A wide variety of extracurricular clubs are also present.

School publications

Grissom's bimonthly newspaper is "The Imprint", or "Tiger Rag"; it is currently one of the school newspapers recognized by the Alabama Scholastic Press Association. The current sponsors are Advanced U.S. History teacher John Wilhoite and Advanced World History/AP Euro teacher Guy Collins. The annual literary magazine is called "Seed", and the annual school yearbook is named "Invictus".


Grissom High School has an Army JROTC program. [ [ US Army JROTC programs in Alabama] ] The Army instructors are First Sergeant Lynn Vanzandt, Sergeant First Class Randall Grady, and Colonel Rodney Johnson, all of whom are retired. During the 2007-2008 school year SFC Randall Grady is the Rifle Team Commander, 1SG Lynn Vanzandt is the Raider Team Commander, and COL Rodney Johnson is the Drill and Ceremonies Commander. The Rifle Team routinely attends the National Air Rifle Competition. The Cannon Battery maintains and fires the school's Civil War-era replica Mountain Howitzer at home football games.cite news |title=Grissom's new gun now loudest fan of football program |work=Huntsville Times |date=2006-09-07]

External links

* [ Grissom Basketball website]
* [ Grissom High School website]
* [ Grissom Band website]
* [ Grissom Dance website]
* [ Grissom Football website]
* [ Grissom Choral website]
* [ Grissom JROTC website]


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