HONORING THE CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION OF I.C. NORCOM HIGH SCHOOL IN PORTSMOUTH, VIRGINIA

October 10, 2013
Floor Statements

Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor the Centennial Celebration of I.C. Norcom High School, located in Portsmouth, Virginia. This weekend, members of the I.C. Norcom High School Alumni Association, Inc. are gathering for a parade and banquet celebration honoring their alma mater's 100th anniversary.

I.C. Norcom High School was founded as the High Street School in 1913 as the first high school for black students in Portsmouth. The school was originally located in the True Reformers Building at 915 High Street and graduated its first class of just nine students in June 1915. After the end of World War I, the school was relocated to a facility at the corner of Chestnut and South Street and again in 1920 to the corner of Chestnut and Clifford Street. In 1937, the school relocated to a larger building nearby, sharing the facility with George Peabody Elementary School. Sixteen years later in 1953, a new facility was built at the cost of 2 million dollars on Turnpike Road, to honor the legacy of its first supervising principal, Israel Charles Norcom. In 1998, the school relocated to its present location, a new, state-of-the-art facility located at 1801 London Boulevard.

The school carries the name of the pioneer educator Israel Charles (``I.C.'') Norcom, who was born in Edenton, North Carolina on September 21, 1856. Norcom attended Yale Preparatory School in Connecticut, graduated from Andover Preparatory School in Massachusetts, and studied at both Yale and Harvard Universities. He also took courses at Howard University, Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) and the University of Virginia. Norcom taught for several years in Bedford County, Virginia before relocating to Portsmouth in the 1880s. Norcom served as a teacher and supervising principal until his death in 1916. Norcom was described as a pioneer educator, civic leader, churchman, businessman, fraternalist, guidance counselor and an outstanding citizen. It has been said that Norcom guided with unmatched intelligence, wisdom and greatly expanded the educational opportunities for young African Americans in Portsmouth.

Norcom's successors have faithfully carried on his tradition. William E. Riddick served as principal of the High Street School until 1942. William E. Waters followed Mr. Riddick as principal from 1942 to 1966. Mr. Waters built on Norcom's educational methods and tailored the school's operations to meet the special needs of its students. Waters was so proud of I.C. Norcom High School that he often claimed that it was the best high school in the South. Albert T. Edwards succeeded Waters as principal in 1966 for 14 years. By then the school's total enrollment exceeded 1,900 students for a facility built to only accommodate 1,400 students. Since Edwards' retirement, many more have committed themselves to enhancing the educational opportunities of I.C. Norcom's students. These principals include Mr. Eugene Blair, Mr. Lindell Wallace, Mr. Vernon Randall, Dr. DeWayne F. Jeter, Jr., Mr. Walter Taylor, Jr., Mr. Timothy E. Johnson (acting) and Ms. Lynn F. Briley. It was under the tenure of Ms. Briley that I.C. Norcom's basketball team won both the 2010 and 2011 AAA Virginia state championship--something I remember fondly having personally attended many of those games. Today, Dr. Rosalynn Sanderlin serves as principal of I.C. Norcom High School and continues the tradition of excellence set by her predecessors.

The world has changed dramatically since I.C. Norcom High School's founding in 1913. But one thing has not, and that is the commitment of the faculty and staff to ensuring that every student that enters the doors of I.C. Norcom has every opportunity to succeed, graduate and go onto college or into the workforce. I commend the Mighty Greyhounds on their Centennial Celebration and 100 years of educating the young men and women of Portsmouth. They have so much to be proud of and so much to celebrate.