In the Beginning
The Jefferson County Board of Education (JCBE) began plans in 1955 to build a new high school to relieve overcrowding at Fern Creek High School. In September 1957, Goldsmith Junior High School opened with an enrollment of approximately 900 seventh, eighth, and ninth graders.
At the end of the 1957 school year, students chose a new school name (Seneca), colors (red and gold), and team name (Redskins). With cartoonist Al Capp's consent, Lonesome Polecat, of Capp's comic strip Li'l Abner, became the school's exclusive mascot. In the school year of 1958-59, Seneca had an enrollment of 1,455 students in grades seven through ten.
By 1961-62, Seneca's Beta Club had become the largest chapter in the nation with more than 200 members. The school's enrollment had increased to about 3,400 by 1968, including seventh and eighth grades. A second gymnasium, the Kenneth Farmer Athletic Building, was added in the late 1960s. It was named for the school's first principal.
Basketball provided the excitement for two years as Seneca's basketball team achieved back-to-back state championships in 1963 and 1964. The team was led by Wes Unseld, who retired as the Bullets' head coach. Those teams continue to be viewed as the best of all time in Kentucky high school basketball. The team was led by NBA, Naismith, U of L, and Kentucky Hall of Famer Wes Unseld. He was also honored as an ESPN All time “TOP 50” player. Wes last served as coach and general manager for the Baltimore Bullets (Now the Washington Wizards) before his retirement in 1995.
Wes Unseld has always been known for his sportsmanship, humility, and tremendous playing ability. Many of his records still stand. Wes’s autograph was recently inscribed on the gym floor to honor him as an all time great.
In 1965, Seneca's football team, led by former Assistant Principal Jack Jacobs, won the state football championship. Ron Cain, for whom the stadium has recently been named after, coached the team. There have been many great Seneca football teams through the years.
The theater building, located in the courtyard, was originally built to accommodate the large television classes of the 1960s and 1970s. The main room of the building has since been named Stickler Theater, in honor of the school's longtime drama teacher, C. Eugene Stickler. Even today, Seneca continues to have great performances in Stickler Theater!
Seneca was one of the first high schools in the area to have the Advance Program. We continue this program today and have consistently been one of the top three schools in the district to have the highest pass percentage on the Advance Program exams.
Hall of Fame
Such graduates as Diane Sawyer, Judge Ellen Ewing, Mayor Jerry Abramson, and Wes Unseld have brought fame to the school and its varied programs. It is, and has long been, a culturally diverse school. The International Studies/Liberal Arts Magnet Program's focus on writing and an interdisciplinary approach to teaching coupled with the research activities of the Math/Science/Technology Program provide excellent opportunities and educational experiences for students to excel.
Some traditions continue while others are being altered as the school continues to develop. The band still stirs crowds to support teams at ball games, trophies in the trophy cases must be rearranged to make space for newly acquired prizes, and each November a senior class mounts another ambitious musical to pack the house. Students still solve math equations, but now they use computers, the Internet, and video cameras.