Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary: Curriculum Innovations

By , 16 December, 2009, No Comment

The Zephyrhills area schools hosted a wonderful celebration on January 29th entitled, “Learning For A Lifetime.” They brought together folks from the five community schools to discuss teaching and learning.  Superintendent Heather Fiorentino’s staff was on hand and demonstrations of the latest scientific research in teaching were given to show learning at each developmental level from kindergarten through high school.  Their learning communities relate subject areas such as math, science, history and language arts to real-life technologies or businesses.

In Zephyrhills however, curriculum innovation began many decades ago.  In the historical archives, we would like to illustrate two of these inventive approaches to education: a flying curriculum and a year-round school year.

On February 14, 1946, the ZHS Senior Class purchased and presented to the school a BT-13 Vultee Trainer airplane for the purpose of teaching aeronautics to both girls and boys of the upper classes. The plane was purchased from the War Surplus Board and was flown to the Zephyrhills airfield by Mr. William Krusen, a local pilot.  Upon arrival of the plane a dedication program was held with Congressman J. Hardin Peterson giving the dedicatory address and Mrs. Mildred S. Mozena, on behalf of the Senior Class, making the presentation. An aeronautics class was then organized with Mr. William Krusen, of Pan American Grace Airways, willingly giving his time as instructor and Dr. O.H. Ellmaker serving as assistant. Interest spread fast and twenty-three pupils enrolled, getting off to a good start on Civil Aeronautics Authority Rules and Regulations, Meteorology, Navigation and other fundamentals of flying followed.

To address the burgeoning school growth, a year-round school system, an extended school year, came in the fall of 1973.  A committee was appointed by the Pasco Superintendent Rodney Cox and the committee – which included the News editor, Bernie Wickstrom –  were sent to visit Romeoville, Illinois where they implemented something called ’45-15.’ Upon return from their visit, the group was convinced that a year-round school would answer the enormous issues of student population growth. Schools started double sessions in 1971 with 1000 students at the high school (up from 854 students enrolled the previous year), and the county was desperate to find some relief. In 1973, the 45-15 extended school year program began. It was a system in which students attended school within one of four geographical tracts on a 45 day attendance/15 day vacation interval with three of the four tracts in school session at all times, rotating among the four. The program served to educate students at a time when school buildings to house them were just not adequate. It had some inherent implementation problems at the high school level causing several teachers to leave the school and eventually becoming quite unpopular with school stakeholders.  By 1977 at the conclusion of the 45-15 extended school year, ZHS Principal Stewart congratulated the seniors of 1977 on their accomplishments in the four years they attended the School. Stewart commented that times had been tough for them because of 45-15. He said, we will not miss 45-15 but we will miss the class.

Countdown to Centennial

Countdown to Centennial
By Madonna Jervis Wise and Clereen Morrill Brunty of the 100th Anniversary Committee, ZHS. Article originally appeared in the Zephyrhills News on February 5, 2009.

All rights reserved. Photos © Madonna Jervis Wise

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