Bethesda Historical Society

A Social History of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School 1925-1980

A new school opened in 1925 in a small wooded suburb of Washington, D.C. called Bethesda. With 14 classrooms and 388 students (grades one to eight), the brick schoolhouse of the Bethesda school stood two stories high on Wilson Lane. World War I had ended just seven years earlier, and Charles Lindbergh would not fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean for another two years. It was the height of the Roaring Twenties, and the beginning of an era for what would eventually become B-CC High School.

In 1926, a young man from Delaware named Thomas W. Pyle became principal, bringing a fierce love of learning and academics to the school. The next year, a ninth grade was added, and the older students started soccer and basketball teams, a drama club, and a school newspaper, The School Tattler.

Two years later, grades seven to ten moved from this school to a new school on 44th Street in Chevy Chase. The first group of students graduated from there in 1929: six boys and eight girls.

Four months later, the stock market crashed, and people scrambled to save money. When the Board of Education stopped hiring new teachers, class sizes almost doubled. The class of 1932 got a scare when the banks began closing–the students couldn’t print their yearbook without any money. After school hours, some students could be seen sweeping the halls and washing desks to earn extra money.

In spite of the Depression, a new school building on East-West Highway was completed in 1935. Built on the former site of a farm, the new school had three stories and a spacious cafeteria on the top floor. Tenth through twelfth graders from the old school moved to the new location in the fall of that year and called themselves the “Highwaymen.”

Read more at “A Social History of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School 1925-1980” by Rebecca Regan-Sachs (B-CC class of 2001)