Lake Norman & Mooresville

Hough High builds spirit in its first year

This past school year, Hough High School gained a reputation for its rigorous academics and high-performing sports teams, students and staff say.

That's not bad for a school that opened its doors in the fall to fragmented groups of rival students from North Mecklenburg and Hopewell high schools.

"A lot of people weren't quite ready to leave their old schools," said student body co-president Katherine Kennedy. "But we've really come together as a community since then. We've shown other schools that we're a force to be reckoned with."

One of the two newest high schools in the Charlotte Mecklenburg School system, Hough opened its doors last summer to 1,500 freshman, sophomores and juniors.

The school will have its first senior class next year, bringing the school population to about 2,000, said principal Terri Cockerham.

"It was kind of nice because all of the grades got to participate in making the traditions at the school," said student body co-president Shelby Major. "It wasn't a pecking order kind of thing. Everybody had a say."

That community-oriented mentality has helped Hough students and staff through highs and lows.

"The very first football game at home was really special," said Cockerham. "All of the students were in the stands cheering together, and there was this real sense of community."

Throughout the year, several Hough sports teams contended for their conference titles, including the girls and boys soccer teams as well as the boys golf team.

"I think a lot of people were like, 'Woah, where did they come from?'" said Kennedy.

But perhaps what's been most moving is how the school banded together following the death of 16-year-old student athlete Parker Bragg.

Bragg, a sophomore at Hough, died during the early hours of May 22 when his car veered off of McCord Road and struck a tree.

"I think those are the times you see a community best," said Major. "There was so much support that went out."

A light-blue banner with the words, "We Will Always Remember You Parker," at the front of the school bears testimony to that strong bond Hough students have formed in just 180 school days.

The banner is overflowing with words of love and support for Bragg, his loved ones and the greater Hough family.

Cockerham said she expects that bond to grow next year as students forget about their days as Vikings and Titans and fully embrace being a part of Husky Nation.

"I think we surprised lots of people on all levels," she said. "We'll be bigger and better and stronger."