Independence High School
In February 1894, Rev. and Mrs. G. W. Dunlap organized a private high school in Independence, Kentucky. Rev. Dunlap was a Presbyterian Minister, well educated and especially interested in Latin. In 1898, the school was sold to C. V. Lucy and his mother who operated it until it was taken over by the county. In February of 1910, the County Board opened a county high school. Mr. C. V. Lucy had been conducting a private high school in Independence and his school was taken over by the County Board. It was located in a two-room private dwelling. In April of 1911, several interested citizens met with the County Board and the Graded Trustees to discuss the matter of better school facilities.
There is in the files a deed dated May 11, 1911, from Douglas Hand for Five acres of land to the two boards. Contracts were let and the construction of a building begun. There was a considerable delay in completing the building, but in 1912 it was occupied. C. V. Lucy was the first principal and G. K. Gregory was the last in 1937.
The building was an eight-room brick structure and a very handsome school structure for the time. In 1924, an auditorium of brick was built as a separate structure. In 1928, several districts were consolidated and the children transported to Independence. A six-room frame structure was erected in the rear of the brick building to house additional pupils. In September 1937, the Independence High School was discontinued and the pupils entered the new Simon Kenton High School.
Simon Kenton High School
On June 19, 1935, an application was made to the Public Works Administration for funds to erect a new building. A site of 23 acres one-half mile south of Independence was selected and a deed for the same was signed on November 2, 1935. Later 5.5 more acres were purchased on which to build a lake for furnishing a water supply for the school. On December 6, 1935, contracts were let for the erection of the new building (above). The Madison Pike project would cost $175,606.85 and it would house $75,000 worth of the latest in technology. On October 22, 1936, the Kenton County Board of Education named the Madison Pike school Simon Kenton High School. Simon Kenton was dedicated on Sunday, September 5, 1937, and opened the doors for pupils on September 13, 1937. The enrollment for the first year was 496.
Simon Kenton remained the same until c.1954. A bi-level with seven new class rooms was completed for the growing student body. In 1964 a new cafeteria was added to the south side of the school. Several more typing rooms were now available in the basement of the new edition. The next major change was the draining of the lake located on the south side of the school. The main reason the lake was drained was because Robert Blanton, a 1970 Simon Kenton senior, drowned.
Major improvement came with the opening of the 1970 school year. A north wing was built which housed a new and efficient library and an abundance of Science and Mathematics classroom. A new parking lot was paved in the front of the school for our expanding faculty and student body.
In the fall of 1980, most new construction was complete and classrooms in other sections of the school had been spruced up with paint and renumbered to coordinate with the new wing. Music, industrial arts, business, special education, and physical education now had extra space, and new equipment. Outdoors, new tennis courts, a baseball field, and asphalt track promised a great year for the home teams. However, tragedy struck Simon Kenton on Thursday, October 9, 1980, at approximately 11:50 when a natural gas line in the north wing boiler room exploded causing walls to fall, doors to buckle, and claiming the life of junior, Robert Williams.
The blasts set off fire alarms throughout the school's four sections and the building was evacuated in about two minutes' time. Since the school operated on the traditional six period day, the science and mathematics classes, which are located in the north wing, were at lunch. This helped to speed up the evacuation and also helped to save lives.
Outside students and teachers watched as trucks arrived from 14 fire departments to fight the fire that blazed from the basement to the third floor. Life squads were on the scene when a second blast occurred about 25 minutes later injuring about 35 firemen and utility workers.
Surveys completed weeks later set the damages to the main building, north wing and contents at over $1.5 million. After the explosion, the newly finished Scott High School, became the temporary home for Simon Kenton students and teachers. The Simon Kenton schedule started at 1:30, after Scott's students attended, and ended at 7:10, later that night.
However, things were to take a turn for Simon Kenton. The same year of the terrible explosion, emerged a state champion basketball team. Simon Kenton became the first team out of the 9th region to win Kentucky's Sweet Sixteen when they defeated the Mason County Royals. After winning 9th region, the boys varsity team returned to the Sweet Sixteen in 1995. Unfortunately they lost in the first round.