In the twenty-first century we are poignantly aware of what is politically correct in school and government in regard to religious holidays and cultural diversity via the Supreme Court and regulation. Our Zephyrhills School (ZHS that was originally grade 1 through 12) throughout its 100 years reflected robust Christian traditions. In the early years, weekly chapel events highlighted local ministers and particularly Christmas was a religious event. With this in mind, we hope you will indulge us when we report this week on ‘Christmas’ going-on’s and the public schools. We have captured a few tidbits throughout the centenary and see the recurring themes of tradition, student pageants and community service. These three topics seem to epitomize December events in our Zephyrhills School over time. As always, we scoured through the historical news coverage and came up with some example items.
1887: Celia Anderson in her unpublished manuscript, Earliest Schools in Present Pasco County, reported that before 1887, G.W. Beardon, the first Pasco Superintendent declared a Christmas holiday of just three days off from school. Did you know that this year in 2009, the students have a holiday of 16 days from December 23rd to January 8th?
1905: Daniel Cripe in It Takes a lot of Living To fill Those 90 Years wrote of the one-room Zephyrhills School that he attended. I remember the community center where all of the important things happened. We had picnic dinners there on the ground quite often and on Christmas we had a program with a Christmas tree and all of the trimmings. People brought presents and hung them on the tree.
1964 and for many years after: ‘White Christmas Collection for Needy Families’—Students at all three schools (Zephyrhills, East and West) collected baskets of food Music teacher, Alice Zimmerman, coordinated for East and West Schools. For the junior and senior high school the choir was directed by Kaye Henry with a special reading by Joe Maniscalco of the Innkeeper. The Peninsula AAA Club also gave out bicycles but included cycling safety rules to the schools to teach the students. The Junior Chamber of Commerce hosted a gala Christmas party complete with movies at the Home Theatre with goodies arriving on the Zephyrhills Fire Engine. Officers of the chamber were Keith Lane, Woody Johnston and Fred Gore with Freddy Peterson as guest celebrity (area artist) on the fire truck. Today many food drives originate at the schools. ZHS had a spectacular project coordinated by the ZHS ROTC club just recently that topped off previous drives with tremendous service to the community.
1965: Bulldog Basketball dominated the news in December. The Bulldogs went to a pressing defense and scored 35 points in the third period Friday night to stump the South Sumter Rebels 78 to 58. Tom Porter scored 26 points for the Bulldogs. This win was the fourth against one loss for the Bulldogs. In the third period the “Dogs got red hot and out-scored the Rebels 35 to 17. Brant Blessing added 17 points and Bob Price 13. Don Woods hit 12, Randy Sperry five. Richard Kinney four and Roy Hutto one for the balanced Bulldogs.
1968: December news again featured basketball…Winners of their opening game of the season and preparing for their first home game here Friday night, were the basketball squad: Keathel Chauncey, Terry Linville, Richard McLellan, Doug Prowant, Rodney Price, Coach Carroll Phillips, Bob Geddes, Dale Palmer, David Krystofiak, Bill Porter, Richard Back and Manager Frankie Hall.
1970: The dynamic Bulldog marching band won superior at the District Marching Competition. When they performed at halftime of the Ft. Meade game, fans gave them superior applause!
1976: The Mouse That Roared,” a musical comedy was presented by the Drama Class. under the direction of Jean Hawes, drama teacher. Cast included: Ivan Corbin, Alan Corbin, Bonnie Gray, Glen Howard, Jeff DeWitt, Tim Potwin, Beaty Cunningham, Pat Barrentine, Linda Greene, Regina Banks, Marcy Bednar, Carol Jacobs, Debbie Chauncey, Myra Smith, Mindy Smith, Paula Shortt, Tammy Crowe, Sabrina Bruce, Gerri Geddes, Carol Zinn, Carl Forry, Melvin Wade, Kevin Poe and Lenny Bahr.
1979: A new vocal group at ZHS was the Vocal Ensemble which made its first appearance at the annual Christmas Band Concert and sang at the weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of Zephyrhills; they included Karen Holt, John Lovette, Tracy St. Onge, Joey Galyan, Vivian Webb, Kathy O’Malley, Earl Paul, Dottie Fraio, Eddie Hicks, Becky Walters, Joan Hyder and David Wolfe, Sound Engineer with director, Dan Benham.
For next week, we have asked our alumni to write in with their own memories of the holiday time and thoughts of old ZHS. For Clereen and Madonna, we wish our friends in Zephyrhills the most blessed of Christmas times with joy and happiness. We hope you’ll enjoy a poem we recently uncovered which we think reflects the season. Let’s paraphrase it and say, “It’s Christmas Time Again at ZHS…”