South High School

Agency History #897


South High School opened its doors on September 10, 1931, to provide a basic educational program for secondary school students in the Salt Lake City School District.

Plans for a new high school began to take form in 1928, however the project was shelved due to the Great Depression. When officials announced LDS High School would close its doors in June 1931 the district was forced to hasten the construction of the new high school because of a guaranteed enrollment increase of 1,000 high school age students. The site of the "Original Pioneer Nursery" established by John Chamberlain was selected as the location for South High. Land was surveyed on June 16, 1930, and ground was first broken on June 30, 1930. The edifice was erected in the record time of fourteen months at an estimated cost of $1.5 million.

The board of education on February 3, 1987, announced the proposed closure of South High School and a plan to divide its student body among East, West, and Highland high schools. Following a six-week period for further evaluation by the Closure Committee, the board of education announced its decision to keep the school open one additional year. South High closed June 8, 1988, when the 1987-1988 school year ended. Located at 1575 South State Street, the school building was renovated and converted into the South City Campus of Salt Lake Community College.


An educational program for pupils in grades ten through twelve was conducted at South High School. During its 57-year history over 30,000 students from the southern portion of the Salt Lake City School District graduated from South High.


Principals in the Salt Lake City School District are the chief administrators of their respective schools and are responsible for the operation and management of schools and property. The principal is given administrative authority, responsibility, and instructional leadership for the planning, management, supervision, and evaluation of the school's educational program. The principal is responsible for and has authority over the actions of students, professional and non-professional employees, visitors, and persons hired to perform special tasks in the schools. Principals are governed by the policies and rules prescribed by the board of education and report directly to the district superintendent. The administration at South High School included an assistant principal.


Faculty members were grouped into academic departments led by a chairman. The original South High School faculty was made up of 45 teachers. Original student governing bodies included student body officers, class officers, and the student court. Later in the decade the Board of Control was added. This group included all student leaders--class officers, editors of the newspaper and yearbook, and presidents of South High Associated Girls (SHAG) and South Associated Men (SAM). Presidents from each advisory (home room) belonged to the House of Delegates. In 1936, the Advisory Council was formed. The longstanding SHAG and SAM organizations were replaced by the Social Arts and Helmsmen Club in the 1960s. The House of Delegates was transformed into a functioning legislative body and renamed the House of Representatives in 1983. The Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), later expanded to include students and renamed the Parent-Teacher Student Association (PTSA), also functioned throughout the school's history.

Among the first-year students enrolled at the newly constructed South High for the 1931-1932 school year were juniors and seniors who had previously attended two Salt Lake City School District institutions (West and East) and the discontinued LDS High School. A small group of students from the three schools called post graduates also attended the South High in pursuit of a twelve-year diploma. Because of low revenue the Salt Lake School District obtained approval for an eleven-year graduation program in 1925. The eleven-year diploma carried the same weight as a twelve-year diploma at the university level, permitting students to graduate at age 16 or 17.

PRINCIPALS, 1931-1988
DeVoe Woolf, 1931-1948 (died)
Ralph V. Backman, 1948-1969
Douglas F. Williams, 1969-1975
LaVar L. Sorensen, 1975-1988

COMPILED BY: W. Glen Fairclough, Jr., , July 2002


Anderson, Audrey E. South High School: A History, 1931-1988. Salt Lake City: Associated Students of South High School, 1988. (Available in Series 83498 and online on the Salt Lake Community College web site, Viewed July 2002.)

Series 84682. Salt Lake City Board of Education. Annual Reports."Fifty Years of Public Education, Fiftieth Annual Report School Year 1939-1940. "

Salt Lake City Board of Education. Board Policies. Section C-General School Administration.

Series 83499. Salt Lake City School District. South High School. Principal's Administrative Records.

Series 83498. Salt Lake City School District. South High School. School Histories.

Series 10819. Utah. State Office of Education. School Directories, 1912-ongoing.

Page Last Updated July 2, 2003.