SIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN THE HISTORY OF SPARROWS POINT HIGH SCHOOL & COMMUNITY 
By Paul Lubinski
Guidance Chairman, SPHS

1.  Archaeological studies have revealed that this area of the Patapsco Neck Peninsula has been inhabited for 8000 to 9000 years. 
2.  "Patapsco" is a Piscataway Indian term referring to "huge rocks" located on two small islands (one at the mouth of Stoney Creek and the other at the mouth of Rocky Creek) at the mouth of the river in northeastern Anne Arundel County near the community of Riviera Beach. 
3.  After the founding of Maryland in 1634, 3000 acres of this peninsula were surveyed for the first time in November of 1652, well before the founding of Baltimore County in 1659 or the founding of Baltimore City in 1729 (separated from the county in 1854).  Once encompassing much of the center of the state, Baltimore County was reduced in area to its present size in 1835.
4.  Thomas Sparrow, who actually lived in Anne Arundel County, received 400 acres in 1652 (and 600 more acres later) as a proprietary land grant from the second Lord Baltimore, Cecil Calvert, who was trying to attract settlers to what was then known as "the great northern woods."  Richard Ewing, Samuel Withers, Thomas Thomas, Richard Owen, William Batten, Augustine Gillett, and William Blay also received land grants on the peninsula at the same time. 
5.  The first known habitation in what eventually became Baltimore County occurred in 1664 when Solomon Sparrow, son of Thomas Sparrow, built "Sparrow's Nest" in the area that later became the company town known as Sparrows Point.
6.  Thomas Todd of Virginia purchased a total of 1150 acres from Thomas Thomas and William Batten in 1664.  The deed for this property was the first one ever-recorded in Baltimore. First named "Denton" for Todd's ancestral home in England, this property was re-named "Industry" sometime between 1790 and 1800.  It later became known as "Todd's Inheritance," probably because it kept being inherited by successive generations (12 generations altogether) of the Todd family.  As many as 30 slaves once lived there.  The original home is believed to have been burned to the ground by the British (in retaliation for the residents' decision to signal the troops of Gen. Sam Smith and Gen. John Stricker of the arrival of the British fleet) as they retreated from their loss at the Battle of North Point in 1814.  Bethlehem Steel purchased most of the property in 1953 for possible expansion, but later sold it to the state in 1987.  The residence remained in the Todd family from 1664 until 1974 (310 years).  In 1974, Elmer Cook, a teacher at Sparrows Point High School, purchased the home and the surrounding 5 acres.  Also in 1974, the home was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Leased for farming, the state-owned portion of the property remains as one of the ten oldest continuously farmed properties in the United States.  After the death of Elmer Cook, the State of Maryland purchased the house and the remaining property in 1999.
7.  In 1793, Captain Robert North explored what is now the Fort Howard area and named it "North Point", after himself.
8.  The largest hostile invasion fleet ever to invade American waters (50 ships) dropped anchor off the coast of this peninsula on September 11, 1814.
9.  Daniel Wells and Henry McComas (members of Captain Aisquith's company of sharpshooters who were in advance of General Stricker's brigade) allegedly fired the shots that mortally wounded British General Robert Ross at the Battle of North Point, Sept. 12, 1814.  The approximate spot where General Ross fell is marked with a small monument next to 3950 Old North Point Road (behind the McDonald's on North Point Blvd).  Only one acre of the entire battlefield has been preserved.  It's now known as "Battle Acre" and is located on the south side of Old North Point Rd, near Kimberly Road.  President John Quincy Adams visited the site on Oct. 16, 1827.  The owner of the property, Dr. Jacob Houck, deeded it to the state of Maryland in 1839.
10.  Off the coast of Sollers Point and in the middle of the Patapsco River, construction of a man-made island (3.4 acres) intended for what would become Fort Carroll began in 1847 under the direction of the U.S. Corps of Army Engineers, led by Robert E. Lee.  This was one of his last assignments before joining the Confederacy.  Near the island, the Francis Scott Key Bridge was opened in 1976.
11.  Jacob Taylor, working on commission for the Pennsylvania Steel Company, purchased 1221 acres of land (385 of them from William Fitzell) in 1886 for the construction of a steel mill.
12.  The foundations of the blast furnaces of the newly formed Maryland Steel Co. were started in August of 1887 on what had been Fitzell's peach orchard.
13.  Construction of a company town to be known as Sparrow's Point also began in 1887 under the direction of John G. Coder.
14.  Sparrow's Point Elementary School opened in 1888 at the corner of 4th and D streets.  61 students were enrolled.  George W. Ijams was the principal, and Estelle Bond was the vice principal. In 1900, Sparrow's Point Elementary established the first manual training class in the state, and the first home economics class in the state.
15.  The Baltimore and Sparrow's Point Railroad began service on Feb. 11, 1889 to transport employees to and from Baltimore, and to haul raw materials to and finished products from the steel mill
16.  Construction of the Sparrow's Point shipyard began in 1891.
17.  The first steel was produced at the steel mill on August 1, 1891. 
18.  The first kindergarten south of the Mason & Dixon line was opened in Sparrow's Point in 1892.  Rita Armstrong, Mary Sherwood and Lillian Emory were its first teachers.
19.  In 1898, the United States went to war with Spain, and Fort Howard (named in honor of Colonel John Eager Howard who had distinguished himself in many battles of the Revolutionary War) was established at North Point in 1899 and was declared to be a military reservation on April 18, 1900.
20.  In the early 1900's, people from several neighborhoods gathered in one of the churches to select a name for the community where the present SPHS building is located.  After much discussion, the name Edgemere was chosen by combining "edge," a margin or boundary, with "mere," a sea or lake.
21.  In 1894, Thomas B. Todd, owner of Todd's Inheritance at that time, became a member of the Baltimore County School Board and later served as its president from 1900 to 1912. 
22.  Rufus Kidder Wood, general agent of the Maryland Steel Co. and brother of Frederick Wood (the first general manager of the steel mill), filed a request with the Board of Education on November 14, 1906 for the establishment of a high school.
23.  On June 10, 1908, the Board of Education decided to furnish one teacher for the first year of high school in return for, "free heat and janitor service for the schools of Sparrows Point."  Of the high schools presently operating within the modern-day boundaries of Baltimore County, Sparrows Point High School is the 5th oldest.
24.  The first SPHS principal was named Joseph Blair (born Oct. 6, 1863), who had graduated from Baltimore City College in 1879.  He served as principal until 1931 (a term of 23 years).  He also served terms as principal of Sparrow's Point Elementary School (1889-1908), president of MSTA (1903), and president of TABCO (1922-1928).  Mr. Blair also taught math and history classes while he served as principal.  The first teacher during the 1908-1909 school year was Carolyn Ziegler, who taught English, German, and Latin.  She also served as the first vice principal and was later followed by Elsie Krug, who served 27 years as vice principal and English teacher.  Other early teachers included Frances Lynch, Molly Rogers, Sara Lewis, Harry Hostel, Edward Stapleton, Icee Glee Friend, Eleanor Wright, John Clayton, Cora Sasscer, Ruth Kramer, and Nanette Roche.  In 1948, former algebra teacher Helen Wachter became the first guidance counselor at SPHS.  Two years later, Edward Hendricks became the second guidance counselor.
25.  The first SPHS building was the former 2-room elementary school building (constructed in 1888) that was located at 4th and D Streets.  When this became too small, the high school moved into the building that had been constructed at 7th and D Streets in 1903 and shared it with the elementary school.  A separate building for the high school opened in 1922.  The present building opened in 1956 and was constructed on what once had been the farm of Leroy Fitzell, a direct descendant of the Fitzell whose peach orchard had become the site of the steel mill.  The math-science wing was added to the building in 1973.  Also at that time, the cafeteria and the library were expanded to their present size, and the Guidance Office was moved to its present location where two science classrooms had been. 
26.  Black students attended a 2-room elementary school at 6th and J Streets until it was abandoned in 1927 as a result of flooding in Humphrey's Creek.  As a result, the George Bragg School was established for the Black students.  Those who wanted to go on to high school had to enroll in the city in order to do so, until the county opened the George Bragg High School in 1939.  The school remained open until 1964.  In 1965, the building was purchased by the Bethlehem Steel Company.
27.  In 1911, of the 17 original high school students at SPHS, 3 of them and one late entrant became the members of the first graduating class. 
28.  To help meet its World War I commitments, the Bethlehem Steel Corporation purchased the steel mill (known as the Maryland Steel Company) in 1916 and began a massive expansion program.  The apostrophe in the name "Sparrow's" was deleted by the steel company, so this area gradually came to be known as Sparrows Point (no apostrophe).
29.  Bay Shore Park was opened on August 11, 1906.  It remained in business until 1947 when Bethlehem Steel bought it and the surrounding property (900 acres) for possible expansion.
30.  On March 7, 1913, the British freighter named the "Alum Chine" completely exploded in the waters near Hawkins Point on the eastern side of the Patapsco River when a worker accidentally ignited 350 TONS OF DYNAMITE aboard the Alum Chine.  The sound of the explosion was heard in four states and was later compared to the sound of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in World War II. 
31.  The words to the school song were written in the 1930's by seventh grade teacher Emma Ziegler, who decided to use the tune of Cornell University's alma matter.
32.  The Veterans Administration acquired Fort Howard from the Army on August 2, 1940 and moved there in January of 1941 to establish a VA hospital.  The hospital closed in 2002.
33.  During World War II, a total of 105 former SPHS students were killed in combat and/or were reported as "missing in action." 
34.  As a result of the addition of eighth grade as a requirement  (thereby making total school attendance a twelve year experience instead of an eleven year experience), there was no graduating class in 1950 because those students had to stay for an additional year.
35.  During the Korean War, 12 former SPHS students were killed in combat. 
36.  William Sartorius, SPHS principal from 1940 to 1942, served as Maryland's Assistant State Superintendent of Schools from 1952-1962.  He then served as the Baltimore County Superintendent of Schools from 1962-1970.
37.  Employment at Bethlehem Steel reached its peak in 1959 when a total 33,000 people were employed at its facilities on this peninsula. 
38.  To allow for the continued expansion of the steel mill, the entire town of Sparrows Point was demolished in the early 1970's (final house demolished in 1974).  The parking lot for the employees of the new blast furnace is the location of the former SPHS building
39.  During the war in Viet Nam, 35 former SPHS students were killed in combat. 
40.  The Sparrows Point Alumni Association was founded in 1983.  Its first president was Pat Auvil.  Subsequent presidents: John Ostrum, Bill Spears, Leo Szymanski.
41.  Bethlehem Steel sold 1310 acres of the Black Marsh area to the state of Maryland in 1987. 
42.  In 1977, grades 6-8 were added to the high school, and its name was changed to Sparrows Point Middle-Senior High School under one principal, until it was separated into two different schools in the same building.  Sparrows Point Middle School opened in 1987.  Its first principal was Lyle Patzkowski, and its first assistant principal was Carmen Holmes. 
43.  The SPHS school flag was designed in 1991 by a tenth grade student named Vali Henry. 
44.  Former SPHS Principal Anthony Marchione was appointed Superintendent of the Baltimore County Public Schools in 1996. 
45.  SPHS officially became a magnet school in 1998 as a result of the addition of a magnet program in environmental science. 

SPHS PRINCIPALS:
Click to Enlarge


1. Joseph Blair (1908-1931)


10. Anthony Marchione (1967-1970)


2. Benjamin Willis (1931-1932)


11. Wayne Burgemeister (1970-1977)


3. Austin Wheeler (1932-1940)


12. Dr. Michael Eder (1977-1984)


4. William Sartorius (1940-1942)


13. Nicholas Spinnato (1984-1990)


5. Taylor Johnston (1942-1947)


14. Keith Harmeyer (1991-1994)


6. William Jones (1947-1948)


15. Dr. Margaret Spicer (1994-1998)


7. Nelson Hurley (1948-1956)


16. Hal Hatton (1998-1999)


8. Paul Dowling (1956-1963)


17. Wayne Thibeault (1999-2002)


9. Howard Ritter (1963-1967)

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18. Robert SantaCroce (2002-present)

 

FAMOUS GRADUATES

Jean Kettell Gable (Class of 1958)--Radio City Music Hall Rockette

James Hackman (Class of 1946)--Assistant Superintendent of Baltimore County Schools for the southeastern area in the late 1970's and early 1980's

Edwin Hale (Class of 1964)--trucking magnate and owner of the First Mariner Bank

Roger Hayden (Class of 1964)--elected Baltimore County Executive, 1986

Charles Hickey (Class of 1945)--elected Sheriff of Baltimore County; the Hickey School in Cub Hill is named after him

Larkin Niemeyer (Class of 1945)--Westinghouse engineer who designed the color camera used during the first moon landing in 1969

Kimbel Oelke (Class of 1935)--founder of the Dundalk Eagle Newspaper and co-founder of the Dundalk Library

Neil O. Hardy (Class of 1947)--world famous illustrator of more than 150 medical textbooks

Raymond Pluemer (Class of 1944)--first principal of Eastern Vo-Tech High School

Donald Rudolph (Class of 1948)--pitcher for the Washington Senators and the Chicago White Sox

John Shkor (Class of 1937)--professional heavyweight boxer who fought Joe Louis, Jersey Joe Walcott, and Rocky Marciano

Ron Swoboda (Class of 1962)--outfielder for the New York Mets; was the "star" of the 1969 World Series defeat of the Orioles

J. Donald Woodruff (Class of 1929)--world famous surgeon and professor at Johns Hopkins Hospital for 50 years; is known as "The Father of Gynecologic Oncology"

 

      VARSITY SPORTS CHAMPIONSHIPS



YEAR
 

 

SPORT

 

 

 

June 3, 1911

 

SPHS held the first athletic meet ever conducted at a Baltimore County school

 

1914

 

soccer

 

county

 

1921

 

soccer

 

county

 

1931

 

soccer

 

state + county

 

1939

 

soccer

 

county

 

1941

 

basketball

 

county

 

1943

 

basketball

 

county

 

1944

 

soccer

 

county

 

1945

 

basketball

 

county

 

1946

 

soccer

 

state + county

 

1947

 

soccer

basketball

lacrosse

 

state + county

county

county

 

1948

 

lacrosse

 

county

 

1949

 

lacrosse

 

county

 

1961

 

basketball

 

state + county

 

1962

 

lacrosse

 

county

 

1965

 

basketball

 

county

 

1966

 

volleyball

 

county

 

1967

 

football

 

county

 

1968

 

football

 

county

 

1973

 

cross country

soccer

 

state + county

state + county

 

1974

 

soccer

 

state + county

 

1975

 

soccer

 

state + county

 

1978

 

soccer

 

county

 

1979

 

soccer

baseball

 

county

county

 

1981

 

football

 

regional

 

1985

 

volleyball

 

regional

 

1986

 

volleyball

 

regional

 

1987

 

baseball

 

county

 

1989

 

volleyball

 

regional

 

1997

 

volleyball

 

regional

 

1999

 

volleyball

girls soccer

boys soccer

 

regional

regional

county

 

2000


2003

 

boys soccer


boys soccer

 

regional


county

 

 

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