Stephens-Lee alumni invited to celebrate 100 years of the ‘Castle on the Hill’ at centennial reunion celebration

Press release from City of Asheville

Stephens-Lee Alumni Association’s biennial alumni reunions offer a chance to reminisce about days in the “Castle on the Hill” with former schoolmates, but this year’s celebration marks 100 years since the first class graduated from a school that became well known across the southeast for its excellence in academics, athletics, and the arts. The final graduation took place in 1965, but the school’s legacy continues as its gym was converted to a community center in the 1970s.

“The alumni association is attempting to reach every alumnus from our beloved Stephens-Lee High School,” according to Sarah Weston Hart, president of the association. “Your attendance will be a memorable experience to celebrate, reminisce, and fellowship with alumni, family, and friends. Please do not miss out on your opportunity to participate in this wonderful celebration.”

The reunion celebration takes place at Stephens-Lee Community Center July 5-7, 2024 and carries the theme, “100 Years and Still Stepping (Let us Never Forget) the ‘Castle on the Hill.’” Highlights include a memorial service and Class Night on Friday; an official alumni meeting, banquet, and dance on Saturday; and cookout on Sunday.

For more information, alumni may direct questions to Stephens-Lee Alumni Association President Sarah Hart at (828) 279-7300 or Alberta Williams at (828) 215-1191, or contact their graduating class president. Stephens-Lee Community Center is located on 30 George Washington Carver Avenue in Asheville.

Stephens-Lee High School opened during the 1922-1923 academic year, but the first graduation took place in 1924. From the moment it opened, the Academic Gothic style building became a center for Black culture, education, and athletics throughout the North Carolina mountains. When one of the only other high schools for Black students in the region burned down, students made a daily four and a half hour trip in an unheated bus from Yancey County to attend the school. With the only remaining Black high school in the area located in Hendersonville, Stephens-Lee attracted students from throughout western North Carolina. More on the former school and current community center’s history can be found in this article.

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