Deep River School is located on an approximately 65 acre site in a rural area on Deep River Rd, commonly known as Old US 1, ten miles northwest of Sanford. Deep River School has a long and rich heritage.
In 1924, a new school was opened in the Deep River Community. The first students came from several one and two room schools in the surrounding area. The land on which the school was built was bought from Mrs. Mag Bridges, whose great-great-grandchildren attend Deep River School today. Mr. Roy Ledden was the first principal. The school included only grades 1-7, until Mr. W. C. Harward became principal in 1929, at which time the eighth and ninth grades were added. In 1930, 10th grade was added and in 1931, the 11th year completed what was the first full high school curriculum in those days.
Deep River had its first graduation on April 29, 1932. The five graduates were Mr. J. T. Marks, deceased; the present Mayla Brown; Mrs. Pauline Cooper; Mrs. Clara Belle Farrell; and Mrs. Lona Luck, deceased. The entire high school curriculum was taught by Mr. Harward and Miss Frances Watson. The first elementary teachers were: Miss Ernestine Matthews, the present Mrs. Rex Kelly; Miss Zelma Wicker, who later became Mrs. Truby Proctor; Miss Flora Johnson, who is Mrs. Ben Brackett; and Mrs. Foy O'Quinn, deceased.
Since the opening of Deep River there have been 14 principals. In their order they were: Mr. Roy Ledden (deceased); Miss Nanie Leach of Sanford; Mr. Ben Brackett of Sanford; Mr. W. C. Harward (deceased); Mr. C. J. Crutchfield (deceased); Mr. W. C. Harward for a second time; Mr. I. J. Wicker of Deep River (later Superintendent of Red Springs); Mr. R. E. Morrison of Aberdeen; Mr. G. H. Wood of Roanoke Rapids; Mr. N. A. Thompson of Sanford; Dr. Russell A. Marion, presently a professor at Clemson University; Gary L. Moore of Sanford; Dianne D. Straub of Sanford; and Amy T. Lundy (current).
The school grew slowly in the depression years. The original seven rooms were adequate until the late 1930's when four more rooms were added. After that, growth was steady. In 1949 the home economics room, a cafeteria, and a first grade room were built. A new auditorium and gymnasium were constructed in 1957 and the old auditorium was converted into a library. During the early sixties, seven elementary classrooms and a teachers' lounge were added. In the late sixties, five mobile units had to be purchased to meet a growth spurt. In 1967 two more rooms were added, four years later two metal buildings were needed, and in the summer of 1973 a metal building was constructed to accommodate two kindergarten classes. In 1977, Lee County consolidated its high schools; Deep River School once again became an elementary (K-6) school. Its student population dropped from 700 students to about 400. With fewer students, the mobile units were no longer needed and were, consequently, removed. This left plenty of room for a strong elementary program, and the high school legacy left facilities uncommon to a K-6 grade school. In 1992, Lee County Schools reorganized its grade configuration to elementary (K-5), middle school (6-8), and high school (9-12). Deep River Elementary School consists of grades kindergarten through fifth grade. The school includes 23 classrooms, library, cafeteria, gymnasium, auditorium, administrative offices, and a storage building. The school serves the children from the Deep River community as well as other surrounding communities including Northview, Colon, Valley View, Ward's Memorial Chapel, Osgood, Friendship Village, Jackson Heights, and parts of East Sanford. The school serves as the focal point for many community activities. In 1996 Deep River once again had its boundaries extended into the city of Sanford. The boundary was expanded to the intersection of Charlotte and Chatham St. The enrollment grew to 520 students. The summer of 1998 brought major changes to Deep River School. The old school, gym, and auditorium were demolished and were replaced by a new $6.8 million, 76,000 square foot school. The boundary was once again expanded to include San-Lee Drive to Scott Avenue, which extended south along Goldsboro Avenue to Chatham Street. The school includes 27 regular classrooms, 7 resource rooms, a library, cafeteria, gymatorium, and administrative offices. Fifth grade students and parents donated a brick monument that has a sculpture of the old Deep River School. They also placed a time capsule in front of the monument, which is to be opened in the year 2020. In 2011, Deep River was chosen as a 1-to-1 laptop initative school and is now also wireless school.