In 1830, Plymouth opened its first one-room school and over the next 20 years numerous more one-room schools would open serving the small but widely distributed population of new settlers to the region. Ebenezer J. Penniman built the Seminary building, in honor of his late wife, on the property that holds Central Middle School today. This building was the site where E.J. Penniman rose to speak before a special meeting on Plymouth’s important figures of the day. His message was to donate the building and its land to the newly incorporated School District No. 1. This property would from then on be known as the Union Primary School and educate students no higher than the 8th grade for its first 24 years.
Plymouth High School came into being in 1877. While most students who reached the eighth grade still left school to assist on the family farm, six students became the first graduates of Plymouth High School in the warm days of 1881. While the following year had twelve graduates, the high school would not see another double digit graduating class until 1901. In 1883, the building donated by Mr. Penniman was no longer able to house all the students who attended, so a new brick schoolhouse was built on the site. This new building, completed at $18,000 (originally projected to cost $9,000) would remain the community’s high school until March 30, 1916 when fire consumed the old building. Despite the fire, students continued to gain an education; just not in school but in places like the Knights of the Pythias Hall, the Plymouth United Savings Bank and many of our local churches. A vote of the community to raise $100,000 for a new school passed, the new Plymouth High School would open in the late fall of 1917 for all grades.
The original Plymouth Cross Country team began in the fall of 1932 and the team would win its first conference championship in the fall of 1952. When the school moved to its current address on Joy Road, the team kept its deep and rich history although the new building would eventually be called simply Salem High School.
It would remain the high school until a new school, currently Salem High School, was opened at Centennial Educational Park in September 1970 with 2,074 students. It would remain Plymouth High School and have the school colors red, white, and blue until the fall of 1972 when another high school would open.
Beginning the fall of 1972, Plymouth would have two high schools: Plymouth Salem and Plymouth Canton. Plymouth Salem would keep the “Rocks” nickname and adopt the school colors blue and white; Plymouth Canton’s “Chiefs” would adopt red and white.
The fall of 2002 brought a third school, Plymouth High School. As a result, Salem and Canton dropped the “Plymouth” from their names, leaving Canton, Plymouth, and Salem High Schools, commonly referred to as PCEP.
Adopted from: Samuel Hudson “Michigan’s Tenth Largest” 1986