Archive for ‘Zephyrhills History’

Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary: Recollections of Miss Granger

By , 21 January, 2010, 1 Comment

The article about Miss Granger made me smile. A little tidbit: My brother and I both attended the kindergarten at the same time, in the fall of 1955.  We were terrors (Miss Granger’s words to my mom).  One Friday mom pinned the weekly fees to each of us when she dropped us

off. Miss Granger ran out the door stopping mom, returning the fees and asked that we not come back.  I think Billy & I were the only kids ever expelled from the school.  This made it impossible for my sister Diane to attend.  Diane still brings that up every now and then.  My mom was so embarrassed to have to explain to the mothers why we were expelled.

With that being said when Billy & I entered the first grade.  Miss Granger’s notes must have followed us, because the first thing the enrollment teacher told mom, was the school was going to separate us.  Under no circumstances were we to be in the same class (We both entered school the same year). I love the articles!

-From Carolyn Dean, Environmental/GIS Specialist for the City of Zephyrhills

I have some memories of Granger’s school.  I was originally left handed, writing and such. Miss Granger used to pass me when I was writing with my left hand and smartly wrap my hand with a wooden stick with a marble attached to the end…ouch! I do have a sloppy handwriting (I write with my right hand) due to her “conditioning” of my hand to not write with the left hand. I choose to believe I have been fortunate in that because of that, I am ambidextrous. I use both hands for a lot.

Another memory I have is that her little bathroom was outside the classroom in a white lattice covered room that had a toilet and a sink (only with cold water) and you only could be out there for a few minutes or she would come and get you. I personally got in trouble one time because someone had thrown their “snack” (a handful of Trix cereal) into the toilet and I got blamed with it… I got in trouble and got smacked with that stupid marble on a stick again.

She was a very forbidding looking woman who always dressed in dark clothes and rarely smiled at us. I figured she was going to always look like an old fashioned “teacher”.  I did learn ABC’s and learned to read at an early age. I just remember being afraid of her. I saw her handle a lot of boys by pulling their ears.

Remember, this was before the days of having fun in kindergarten. And she was very old to me. She might have been only in her 50’s at the time, but she always looked old to me.

-From Phyllis (Jarrett) Denney, Class of 1973

Clereen, Sam Surratt and I have a secret organization called “Granger’s Rangers”. There are only two members! We are looking for more. We sit around once in awhile and talk about Miss Granger. She ruled with an iron fist. Just; ask Jerry Pricher or Randy Jordan or Doug Kirk who use to run away every time she released him for playtime (which was not often). The refreshment was a cup of kool aid that held 2 ounces. I learned from Debbie Forbes how to write to a hundred, it took a couple of days copying! The playground was not great.  I loved being a Granger Ranger!

-From Terry Linville

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 June 18, 2009.

All rights reserved. Photos © Madonna Jervis Wise

Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary: Miss Granger’s “Rangers”

By , 21 January, 2010, No Comment

The ZHS 100 Committee is working in collaboration with Zephyrhills Main Street, Inc. to plan celebrations for the Zephyrhills Centennial in 2010.  Our goal is to feature some glimpses of educational history over time. Please contact us to share your reactions to our vignettes at: Madonna Wise (mwise {at} hughes(.)net) and Clereen Brunty (clereen {at} tampabay.rr(.)com).

Have you heard of the creative teaching method known as Montessori? It is an imaginative approach for young children that was developed in the late 1800’s which infuses art, music and self-expression; and it has produced some great thinkers in our world.

Well, in Zephyrhills, a pioneer primary and uniquely creative educator was Mary Frances Granger who operated “The Child’s Garden of Learning” in her home on 11th Street just past 9th Avenue, for over 35 years.  The school taught many prominent citizens (i.e. Emil Reutimann, George Neukom, Emerson Arnot, Christine Douglas and many more.) We were encouraged to include “Miss Mary” (as she was known) in our historical tributes.

The spunky and sometime eccentric Miss Mary moved to Zephyrhills with her family in 1926 and opened what was first named The Merry Kindergarten. George Neukom told us that students who attended Miss Mary’s school for a few years at the kindergarten level were given an evaluation test when they entered Zephyrhills School and often skipped over several grades as was the case for George.

A 1947 Tampa Times newspaper article said, “Child’s Garden of Learning takes particular care to both physical and mental development that will cause the garden to burst forth with sweet flowers…the children! Natural and organized play, music, construction, dramatization, and art guide children in the accumulation of knowledge at various ages at this particular school.”

Miss Mary operated the only kindergarten in town.  She was a single lady who was known to always wear a hat. She was very active in the community. Jon Ferguson, one of her pupils said in an interview, “She was a small lady in stature but there was a huge monument of caring and tender love for students. She could handle quite a large number of students without help. She had that gift of gathering her little chickens under her wings yet was firm in discipline…just what the children needed.”

A 1956 Zephyrhills News report on the annual end-of-the-year ceremony may give you a feel for what it was like at the “Garden of Learning.” See if you recognize any names?

“The 1956 annual closing program of Miss Mary Granger’s School was held at the Woman’s Club Wednesday afternoon with a large audience. With youngsters singing Oh What A Beautiful Morning as a prelude, the curtain opened on an apple blossom garden scene complete with picket fences entwined with flowers and foliage… Group songs included Friends, April Showers, Singing in the Rain, In Apple Blossom Time, and Let’s All Sing Like the Birdies Sing. A Rainbow Fairies novelty song and dance featured Donna Bales, Sandra Johnston, Betty Muse, Shirley and Gloria Rose, Judy Lane, Joey Chenkin, Mikie Barber and Linda Lippincott. Paul Hilson and Rene Geddes acquitted themselves nicely in the The Little Shoemaker and an alphabet song in which all the youngsters participated which was followed by a Flower Wedding number and a skit, Teddy Bear Picnic

Diplomas were awarded to Gail Chenkin, Ritchie Chenkin, Gay Ann Kirkland, Sandra Johnston, Betty Muse, Arthur Chadwell, Paul Hilson, Rene Geddes and Donna Bales. An interesting display of handwork completed by the pupils was shown.”

We also understand that any later years, Miss Granger became more eccentric. Terry Linville shared that he and Sam Surratt still tell tales of their days at the school and like to refer to themselves as ‘Granger Rangers.’ We hear that the school was operated with a strong fist and punishments could sometimes be composing long lists of numbers.  Terry shared that one of the alumni, Jerry Pricher, was known to escape when playground time came around. Please share your memories of Miss Granger or perhaps this has prompted you to remember another teacher and life experience?

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 June 18, 2009.

All rights reserved. Photos © Madonna Jervis Wise

Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary: ZHS in 1968

By , 20 January, 2010, No Comment

School Days for 93 Graduates, Zephyrhills News, June 6, 1968

The ZHS gymnasium was the scene last evening of commencement exercises for the 93-member senior class. Jimmy Simmons played an organ prelude, then “March of the Priests” as the processional during which the white capped and gowned graduates filed into the hall and took their places.  The Rev. James Smith, pastor of Double Branch Church of which the class president is a member, gave the invocation.

Acie Ellerbe, president of the 1968 graduating class spoke on the topic, “Using Our Education.”

Class Salutatorian, Rene Geddes used as her topic, “The Value of a True Teacher” and H. Daniel Pollock, valedictorian, chose the class motto, “Today’s Challenge is Tomorrow’s Quest” as topic of his address.  Mrs. V.E. Witt, longtime member of the Pasco School Board who is retiring after 20 years of service, presented special awards.

John Neal, with a 486 score out of a possible 495, won the Scholarship Award and Ryan Gray won the Athletic Award. School Spirit awards were presented to Acie Ellerbe and Janette Dunnigan.  June Standland won the Citizenship Award. Riki McGinnis won the Best All-Around Boy Award and also was the recipient of the Jaycees Athletic Scholarship. June Standland also was recipient of the Best All-Round Girl Award. Ferd Renninger, President of Zephyrhills Rotary,  made the presentations of bonds from Rotary.

Chester Taylor, Superintendent, assisted by Principal Raymond B. Stewart, presented diplomas to the 93 graduates.  Ushers were members of the junior class including: Sue Douglas, Melanie Massey, Cathy Muse, Barbara Rooks, Sue Thompson, Joe Ahrens, Richard Back, Rodney Price, Jerry Pricher, and Doug Prowant.

Following the conclusion of the commencement exercise, a reception for the graduates, their dates and parents was held in the gymnasium. Mrs. Owen Gall, in charge of decorations, used a white lace cloth over French blue on the refreshment table to carry out the seniors’ color scheme. Red and white roses, class flowers, also were featured in the motif, as were figurines of boy and girl graduates.

School Daze by Janette Dunnigan, Zephyrhills News, 1968

Oh my goodness: I have graduated. And just last night. Where has the year gone? Into the past—and very swiftly at that. Well, that is what I said just yesterday that I –oh, I’d better not get started on that. I’d be talking for a year!

Would you believe—Class Night was a success? Even with all the censors, we still came out with a pretty decent Class Night Program. It seemed to be a combination of the “Smothers Brothers Show,” and Rowan and Martin’s “Laugh In”—two very popular television series with our generation!

Speaking of success and also of juniors—wow! That’s about all I can say about the Prom. The theme was “Gone With the Wind,” which was carried out beautifully with “ho

me” made,” fantastic murals relating to the novel and it’s been a long time since the Municipal Building looked so good. Even with the rainy weather once you got inside the entire mood changed and it was as if you were back in time. Extra special congratulations go the Mighty “69ers”. That was one beautiful job!

To top the Prom off to a tee, the 1968 Royalty were crowned. No one even knew who was nominated for the honors, but the president himself, Dale Palmer. About halfway through, he introduced Mr. John Geiger, who did the honors of crowning Cliff Cooper as King and Laura Achillich as Queen. Laura and Cliff looked great, proving that the juniors do have good taste even when it concerns us seniors.

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 June 11, 2009.

All rights reserved. Photos © Madonna Jervis Wise

Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary: Coach John Clements

By , 19 January, 2010, No Comment

Character education has been a buzz phrase in education in Florida in recent years. Florida legislators in their wisdom feel it is important to teach citizenship, respect and compassion along with academics.  Because these traits have traditionally been cultivated and modeled by families and religious institutions, it is challenging to teach/instill genuine ‘character’ at the school setting in the midst of FCAT and the academic demands of a competitive 21st century.  When we look back on the history of Zephyrhills, character and integrity were modeled by many exemplary teachers and coaches.  Perhaps the most notable of these is Coach John Clements, a veritable institution in the community of Zephyrhills!  Let’s see now what is character?…Honesty, responsibility, perseverance, caring, self-discipline, integrity, patriotism, compassion, generosity, fortitude, tolerance, humility. Yes, that’s our John Clements!

Coach John Clements and Marlene "Beanie" Clements

Coach John Clements and Marvene "Beanie" Clements

Newcomers to Zephyrhills will know his name from the field that bears his name, “John F. Clements Field,” on County Road 54 East, home field of the Bulldogs. The field dedication comes from not only his extraordinary humanity but an unparalleled coaching record!

In 1988 Clement’s record was recognized by the Florida High School Athletic Association with a plaque for being only one of five high school coaches in the united States with a winning record of more than 400 games. Consider: Zephyrhills Football from 1948-61; 1966-67 (record 57-94); baseball 1949 to 1972 (record 419-127), basketball 1947-1955; and track 1949-1952.

The man however, is John F. Clements–born to a poor family, January 20, 1920 in Baxley, Ga., a country boy who retains the warmth and down-home caring of his roots. At the age of 5, his father passed away and his family relocated to Bunnell, Fla in the early 1930’s. A man of strong family values, Clements and his wife, Marvene (Beanie) celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary in 2009. They have two children, John II and Diane and two grandchildren, Johnny III and Kim McGavern.

Along the way also, Johnny was a professional league baseball player before assuming a teaching/coaching position at ZHS.  He had affiliations with the Cardinals, Phillies, and the Tampa Smokers.

We had an opportunity to interview Coach and his wife last Sunday and we have prepared an eight-part article that is available on the alumni website at: under the “Memories” tab, which includes mini-articles on the following chapters of his life: Biographical Info; Swimming; Senior Class Sponsor at ZHS for 20 years; Teaching in Zephyrhills; Driver’s Education Teacher; Anecdotes; Pro-Baseball and Our Coach. We chose to focus on one aspect of Clement’s community service for this week’s ‘countdown’ article because of the season—summer and recreation time, and the topic is his role as ‘Red Cross Swim Instructor and Facilitator of the Summer Swim Program in Zephyrhills for 15 years.’

Would you be astounded to learn that Zephyrhills provided an exemplary swimming program that certified 500 youth in Red Cross Swimming every summer? Impressive by today’s standards, but this is actual data from the 1950’s and 1960’s. The Clements operated the summer swim program for 15 years. Their team included the legendary Marianne Simons as a swimming instructor and a variety of ZHS coaches. Kids literally came from a five-county area to the program—children from Brooksville to Lakeland.


John Phillips, City Manager, in the 1950’s heard that John and Beanie had been lifeguards and recruited them. They managed the pool for 15 years and that would add up to 7500 children learning to swim. “We had kids coming from everywhere and we divided the group up in order to teach them all…beginners, juniors, intermediates, junior life saving, senior life saving and survival swimming. In addition to this, one night per week, we had adult classes.”

Folks may not know that the Clements also managed all of the cleaning and maintenance of the pool. Beanie said, “I’ll never forget the big hole you went down and there was an old rickety ladder…often there were snakes down in there. John had to mix up a big vat of chlorine and go through several processes to keep the pool clean, draining it twice per week. We would have the state inspector come around and we always passed. John Phillips, City Manager requested that we fill the pool at night so we wouldn’t take the water pressure away from the people who lived nearby.”


It was at Zephyr Park. The recently published book, Zephyrhills From A to Z, details how Roosevelt’s New Deal Work Projects Administration funds built the state-of-the art pool which opened June 1, 1939. Admission to the pool was five cents and for five cents more a towel was included. The Clements said the admission never went higher than a quarter.  For an additional ten cents more, you could sign up for swimming lessons.

The configuration/construction of the pool was quite efficient—a baby pool was available for young children, sloping from 8 inches to 17 inches; the main pool had a gradual incline to 10 feet deep with two diving boards…one stationary board and a 10 foot high diving board. The VFW Hall served as the dressing room area.

So many stories about the lifeguards and various folks!  Cookie Massey was their most notable lifeguard serving for many years; she went on to become a mermaid at Weeki Wachee Springs.  Others mentioned were: Casey Kearse, J.W. Wells, Clayton Stokes and Glenn Miller. Many coaches from ZHS, such as Bill Kustes and Ann Crawford, assisted.  The Clements credit the dedicated staff for the remarkable safety record of no serious injuries during their fifteen years of operating the pool.

Stories however, were abundant and some of their favorites were the tales of kids who snuck in for night swims by climbing over the chain link fence. John related the account  of  Floyd Kersey, Ernie Peeples, and Bob Howell creeping over the fence one particularly dark evening. As the tale goes…just as one of them was about to jump off the high dive, Ernie said, maybe we better check to make sure there is water? Sure enough, the pool had been drained—bone dry. Thank heavens for the intuition of Ernie! Beane said, can you imagine…wouldn’t that have been awful?

On any given summer day, approximately 100 children were swimming throughout the day.  Everyone agreed the snack bar was exceptional and Beane said that was in part because she is a chocoholic and kept an ample supply on hand. Interestingly enough, the Clements also did bookkeeping for the kids! Children would bring in a small amount of  money and they kept an account of how much each spent and how much was left. All in all, the pool was a babysitter in so many ways!

Johnny, who is a 30-year Rotarian, likes to chat with the Director of the East Pasco YMCA at the weekly meetings and he said she finds it unthinkable that in the 1950’s they served those types of numbers for swimming lessons. John completed 500 Red Cross Swimming Cards in a typical summer.  Does anyone still have a copy of their Red Cross swim card from Coach Clements?

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 June 4, 2009.

All rights reserved. Photos © Madonna Jervis Wise

Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary: Singing At ZHS

By , 18 January, 2010, 1 Comment

“Get Along Home Cindy—Cindy!”

On Friday, May 22nd, 2009, ZHS Show Choir and ZHS Chorus presented a spectacular presentation under the direction of music teacher and alumni, Luan Gore. All the guests were welcomed by the new Principal, Steve Van Gorden, who graciously shook hands with everyone!

The hour and a half performance was truly a show to behold. The Show Choir, a rather new innovation at ZHS, did several numbers with intricate choreography designed and taught by volunteer, Robert Hughes, a 1973 ZHS alumni.  Dance routines included a hoe down and a 1920’s flapper rendition with parasols.  The audience enjoyed seeing the group in synchronization as they did a range of steps from the Charleston to the Virginia reel in rhythm to their singing. The array of songs  included: folk song, Cindy, Coney Island Baby/We All Fall; Flying Free, Bye Bye Blackbird, Speechless, Dance Today With Joy, Today is Yours and Mine; Fugue for Fast Food; Michael Row The Boat Ashore; I Don’t Know Why I Just Do; Lean On Me and Shout Glory.

Student soloists with various parts imbedded in the group presentations included: Kacey Morehouse, Matthew Myers, Danielle Warren, Alicia Wirth, Rachel Wise, and Christian Moyer.

The Show Choir also did two numbers a-cappella which they had learned from a recent workshop on Barbershop singing that they attended.  Well done, Luan and ZHS students. (See the photo of the ZHS chorus included with the article).

Zephyrhills HIgh Chorus

Zephyrhills HIgh Chorus

Now, for some history. ZHS had many Glee Clubs throughout its history.  Imagine and remember the melodious singing throughout nearly 100 years! Glee Clubs provided not only musical education but community amusement. At the 1956 and 1957 ZHS Baccalaureates, then music teacher Alice Zimmerman conducted students in religious songs, “God Be With You Until We Meet Again,” and “Halls of Ivy.” The 1954 graduating class enjoyed three community adult soloists, Mrs. Roy Beddingfield, Mrs. Charles Campbell, and Mrs. P.H. Murphy, Jr. who sang along with the Z.H.S. Glee Club.  The end-of-the year Glee Club’s recital in 1947 was described by the News as follows,

“A fine program was given at the local high school auditorium last Friday evening by the students of the high school music department under the direction of Miss Hoffman, Supervisor. Frank Hanson, President of the ZHS Glee Club, acted as Master of Ceremonies with students, Jean McGavern playing a piano solo and Barbara Sabin, a violin solo accompanied by Martha Mae Keller.

The News reported in April, 1942 that Mrs. Mildred Byrd, Director, promised a good performance from the Glee Club and for 15 cents you could see the Glee Club’s Musical Comedy, Pickles. In 1940, ZHS Glee Club presented the Operetta, The Belle of Bagdad, while in 1939, the News reported,

“You have a chance to see this story in action with good music in ‘Hollywood Extra,’ with several new voices being introduced in the operetta with sparkling humor.”

In 1938, the Glee Club appeared to be gender-specific with the Girls’ ZHS Glee Club entertaining at that year’s graduation.

Luan Gore did a sensational job with directing the 2009 Friday night performance and certainly carried on the tradition.  Miss Gore herself, has quite a tradition at ZHS as well.  A 1977 graduate, she was the school’s first woman drum major after a three decade lapse. When she was selected drum major in from among coordinator by C. Paul Steuart and John T.V. Clark, Luan said:

“I’m thrilled to death and I’m looking forward to boosting up the spirit of the band next year. I’m also really glad to bring back Drum Majorette.”

Our previous documentation of a female drum major at ZHS goes back to 1939 when we found several articles about Irene Hohenthaner as drum major and Irene’s work in leading a variety of community parades through town to advance the knowledge of the dreaded infantile paralysis (polio) as a community effort at a critical time in the community.

Could Luan have known in 1976 that she would have an opportunity to ‘pay it forward?’ One wonders? Thanks Luan for carrying on the tradition not only as a pioneering lady Drum Major but in imparting your knowledge and talent to a new generation of performers!

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 May 28, 2009.

All rights reserved. Photos © Madonna Jervis Wise

Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary: Salutatorians of the past and present

By , 14 January, 2010, No Comment

As graduation approaches, Zephyrhills Schools will acknowledge that it is celebrating its 95th graduation ceremony.  Although the school opened in 1910, the first official graduation was in 1914.  This is a time of great pride and joy for families and certainly a milestone in an individual’s life. At the ZHS 100 committee, members have enjoyed compiling lists and documenting history.  We salute the 2009 ZHS Salutatorian, Carl “C.J. Gennaro, III, and want to share some tidbits about salutatorians throughout the 100 years.

We found some interesting community patriarchs among the list.  Fred Gore, for example was the 1948 Salutatorian and gave a speech entitled, “Public Service,” which he has definitely exemplified in his life.  Bill McGavern, known for his basketball prowess as “Billie The Kid” was the 1962 Sal and an excerpt from his speech gives us a glimpse of this community leader as well:

“The work of our school years is completed but our education will continue so long as we live.  Assurances of the good wishes of our townspeople have meant much to us. Your interest and friendship have been an inspiration and comfort to us and we are grateful.

The 1987 Salutatorian, Missy Mikolajczak captured the spirit for many decades. Missy  was an accomplished female athlete at ZHS who later attended the University of Virginia, where she lettered all four years in softball and volleyball and earned her master’s degree in rhetoric and communications along the way. In fact, she played with the Colorado Silver Bullets, the professional women’s baseball team for awhile.  Here is how her graduation transpired. In a cue worthy of an MTV disc jockey, the salutatorian closed her speech noting that the graduation was a time “to say take care, to say keep in touch, to say God bless, but to never say goodbye,” signaling the loudspeakers in the school’s gymnasium to play rock band Bon Jovi’s nearly ubiquitous song of the season, “Never Say Goodbye.”  The class stood and rocked back and forth to the refrain, and the standing-room crowd of family and friends in the “Doghouse”- the Bulldog gym – chuckled appreciatively.  Mikolajczak likened the last night of school to the first day of school when she was filled with “A certain sadness that now that I think of it was mainly fear.” But she told her classmates to “strive foremost for happiness. No matter what one owns, it is the possession of happiness that makes one successful.”

ZHS has recognized the top two scholars of each graduating class throughout their history.  In researching archives, primarily microfilm throughout the school’s history to correctly identify the top-of-the class students, we painstakingly reviewed files at the Zephyrhills News and the Zephyrhills Library.  Various community members provided missing names, but there remain some 16 who have NOT  been identified.

Carl Gennaro

Carl "C.J." Gennaro, III- 2009 Salutatorian

Please help us locate the missing number ones! Congratulations Carl!

2009- Carl “C.J. Gennaro, III

2008 – Kristen “Abbi” Chaffin

2007- Josalynn Wireman

2006- Gregory Aaron Cole

2005- Chloe Elizabeth Estep

2004- Thomas Lee Lawson, Jr.

2003- Kyle Alex Pierson

2002- Tiffany Rose Stanley

2001- Carolyn Christina Young

2000- Michelle Leigh Krystofiak

1999- Laurie Ann Buccinna and Teresa Elaine Norris

1998- Nicholas Mark Peacock

1997- Tazia Kallenbach Stagg

1996- Amanda Ruth Schwab

1995- Hariharan Krishnaraj

1994- Matthew John Mohler, II

1993- Jennifer Ann Wooten

1992- Emily Lauren Currington

1991- Heidi Lynn Grimes

1990- Stacia Jean Familo

1989-  Rachel Marie Hughes

1988- Christie Lynn Spurlock

1987-  Melissa Dawn “Missy” Mikolajczak

1986- Ronald Maurice Miller, Jr.

1985- Cherié Rene Bylaska

1984- Tracy Rene Dunlap

1983- Dale Lee  Parker

1982- Ronald Bryan  Woodard

1981- Nancy Alla DeBoe

1980- Gabrielle T. Vincent

1979- Robert Alan Boyd

1978- Daniel R.Deaton

1977- James L. Whitacre

1976- Kathleen Flack

1975-  Steve Clark

1974- Armondo John Maniscalco

1973- Debra Jeanne Cowling

1972- Eric Lang Huber

1971- Marlies Gerber

1970-  Julia E. Phipps

1969-  Kathleen Mary Shannon

1968- Rene Arlene Geddes

1967- Joan Thompson

1966- Janice McGuffey

1965- Barbara Thompson

1964- David D. Kaylor

1963- Chere Crosby Brooks

1962- William E. “Bill”  McGavern

1961- David Smith

1960- Delia Margaret “Dedi” Anderson

1959- Margaret Ann Braden

1958- Barbara Peeples

1957-  Elizabeth Dell Cutshall

1956- James Hoge Jones

1955- Hazel Ruth Aldacosta

1954- Helen Wells

1953- Merlene Nelson

1952- Barbara Smith

1951- Nelda Rae Cook

1950- Jaynell LeHeup

1949- Patricia Lee Thomson

1948- Freddie Lee Gore

1947- Theodore Franklin Mayor

1946- Lois Ann Martinson

1945- David Tyre, Jr.

1944- Dorothy Gonzales

1943- Irene Lefler

1942- Alice Jenkins

1941- Norris Mott

1940- Irene Claire Hohenthaner

1939- Helen Lefler

1938- Mary Elizabeth Stapleton

1937- Jacqueline Sjoblom

1935- Frederick C. Wheeler

1934- Betty Childs

1933- Emerson Snider

1928- Edith Plank

1927- Ira Jones

1925- NONE

1921- Grace Cripe

1916- W. Gomer Krise

1914-First Official Graduation

1913-Eleventh Grade Graduation Only

1910-School Opened

Missing 1913-1915; 1917-1920, 1922-1924, 1926, 1929, 1930-32, 1936

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 May 21, 2009.

All rights reserved. Photos © Madonna Jervis Wise

Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary: Valedictorians Now & Then

By , 13 January, 2010, No Comment

Last Thursday night at ZHS, a tradition continued although with some tweaks!  That, of course, was the annual Awards and Honors Presentation.  For nearly 100 years, some type of awards event has been held to honor the top scholars of the graduating class. So often in today’s society qualities other than scholarship are recognized so it is a wonderful tradition that scholars are acknowledged.  We value the practice instituted by former ZHS Principal, James T. Davis (serving 1993 to 2004 and now Assistant Superintendent) who initiated an honors banquet and began presenting honor students with an academic ‘Z’ letter, comparable to an athletic letter. These students from the early 1990’s forward were honored at a banquet funded by Daybreak Rotary of Zephyrhills for their parents and an accomplished ZHS alumni who spoke of the impact that ZHS had on him/her.  We are hopeful that the new principal who was just announced, Steven Van Gorden, will reinstitute this honors banquet for these deserving students and their proud parents.

Anthony Pritchard- 2009 Valedictorian

Anthony Pritchard- 2009 Valedictorian

The awards convocation is of course a tribute and culmination of four years of hard work.  At this event the Valedictorian, the highest ranking student of the graduating class, is announced as well as the Salutatorian (next week we will tell you about the Salutatorians). The new 2009 Valedictorian is Anthony Pritchard.

ZHS has recognized the top two scholars of each graduating class throughout their history.  In researching archives, primarily microfilm to correctly identify the top-of-the class students, we painstakingly reviewed the archives of the Zephyrhills News and the Zephyrhills Library.  Various community members provided missing names, but there remain 16 who have not been identified from the 1930’s and before.

The Valedictorians and Salutatorians were recognized in slight variations over time but always represented those individuals with the highest scholastic achievement and grade point average.  Many have excelled in their professional careers and brought pride to Zephyrhills; and several have continued to be leaders in the community, government and their professions.

ZHS Valedictorians over time…Please help us locate the missing ‘Number Ones!’

2008-Luke Aaron Thomas

2007-Kristen Lynn Beville

2006-Rebekah Louise Hayden

2005-Suneal Singh Bedi

2004-Phillip Justin Young

2003-Ashik “JJ” Jivan

2002-Kristen Mari  Benedini

2001-Mamie Venita Jervis Wise

2000-Deanna Hasenauer, Anurekha “Rekha”

Krishnaraj & Pamela Jane Moses

1999-Thomas George Renc

1998-Laura Ann Noble & Jennifer Lyn


1997-Charles Shelby Garrod

1996-Chut Sombutmai

1995-Mandeep Singh Dhalla

1994-Kaname Kenneth Kuniyuki

1993-Monu Singh Bedi & Sonu Singh Bedi

1992-Christine Noel Rinck

1991-Beth Ann Ables

1990-Thomas Eugene Gregory

1989-David Jochen Lorenz

1988-Jeanine Louise Boyd

1987-Mark Wayne Brissette

1986-Bruce Len Lovins

1985-Katherine Elizabeth Evans

1984-Christopher Charles Williams

1983-Mary Beth Kuusisto

1982-Steven Thomas Kretschmar

1981-Amy Ruth Kuusisto

1980-Michael Kevin “Mickey” Farrell

1979-David Norman Deaton

1978-Karen Lenné Hunt

1977-Scott Edwin Boyd

1976-Elizabeth Stanley

1975-Karen Marie Scharlau

1974-Gerald Kenneth Eysaman, Jr.

1973-Michael Thomas Cox

1972-Walter Bruce Vogel

1971-Andrij Roman Neczwid

1970-Patricia Ann Hayden

1969-Patricia Gail Connelly

1968-Harmon Daniel “Danny” Pollock, II

1967-Marcia Demming

1966-Joseph  Higginson

1965-Linda Hayden

1964-James Emmett Daniels

1963-Jerry H. Griffin

1962-Barbara Russ

1961-Elizabeth Witt

1960-Bonnie Lee Reed

1959-Laura Ann Higginson

1958-Edwina Jones

1957-Janet Marilyn Johnson

1956-Dena Yvonne Cooper

1955-Bunnie Sue Sibley

1954-Richard “Dick” Braden

1953-Joan Pauline Braden

1952-Caroline Jones

1951-Martha Mae Keller

1950-Nancy Skinner

1949-Alton Tyre

1948-Betty Jo Turner

1947-Patricia Pauline Parttridg

1946-Rubye Lott

1945-Edna Elizabeth Thornberry

1944-Mary Hart

1943-Vernon Poehner

1942-Alden Poehner

1941-Jack W. Booth, Jr.

1940-Bernice Eleanor Curtis

1939-Pearl Snider

1938-Rilda Darlene Mounts

1937-Estelle Delk


1935-Sarah E. Parsons

1934-Grace Lester

1933-Winnie Plank





1928-Theodore Campbell

1927-Eula Hensley Shaw


1925-Julius Pillar




1921-Nellie Ford





1916-Nannie Knight



1914-First Official Graduation

1913-Eleventh Grade Graduation Only

1910-School Opened

Missing 1914-1915, 1917-1920, 1922-1924, 1926, 1929-1932, 1936

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 May 14, 2009.

All rights reserved. Photos © Madonna Jervis Wise

Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary: Librarian or Media Specialist?

By , 12 January, 2010, No Comment

On Saturday, May 2, a retirement dinner for ZHS Media Specialist Ernie Wise was hosted at Zephyr Palms Events Centre by his wife, Madonna (one of the writers) and their three children. Randall Belcher, retired principal, emceed the event and all in attendance found themselves reminiscing about Ernie’s 35 years of service to Zephyrhills.  Ernie served twenty years as a biology teacher and fifteen as a Media Specialist at Zephyrhills High School.  He started teaching on the year-round school system known as 45-15 with an annual salary of $6,000.  The school campus was brand spanking new and the community was growing phenomenally in population.

The ‘Ernie Wise’ celebration caused us to reflect upon the Media Specialists (formerly known as Librarians) who have served ZHS throughout the school’s history.  For many alumni, we imagine that you may recall research papers you painstakingly slaved over or books you checked out from the school’s library. You may also recall that cumbersome card catalogue or those precious encyclopedias with their leather bindings and the quiet, somber atmosphere.  Many of the traditional resources we recall from the 50’s to 70’s or before, have been augmented or replaced by various technologies in the age of computers, but the necessity for carrying out research remains a vitally important skill (one tested on the FCAT) and needed by today’s workforce.

So who were the librarians of the past at ZHS?  Do you have memories of these scholarly folks that you might like to share with us for our 100th anniversary? Here are some facts that we uncovered!

A local school history report compiled for an annual open house celebration at the school in the 70’s, stated that the first ZHS library was established by Sara Krentzman who was also the school’s drama coach, in 1936.  Zephyrhills News articles however, mention that school librarian, Irene Flack obtained 148 donated books of reference and fiction for the school’s library in 1930, so we are inclined to believe that a ZHS librarian was in place in 1930.  The 1938 Pasco School Board minutes indicate that Grace Fogg was appointed librarian of ZHS, and the local history report also documents Blanche Hawkes as ZHS librarian in 1942.  Blanche was followed by Celia Linkey Anderson in 1944 who was a 1929 graduate of ZHS.

Perhaps one of the most well known of the group is Betty Hall who served for 25 years as ZHS librarian. In a May 1984 article for the Zephyrhills News, Betty recalled some of her memorable moments in the job.  Betty’s first ZHS library was in an unused classroom. In the early 1970’s a new library was built for the high school campus on what is today the Stewart Middle School campus and Betty took charge of moving the hundreds of books from the classroom location to the new building. Betty said, “Students carried the books by the armful and it went smoothly. We used Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts plus other children and moved all the books in two afternoons.”

In 1975, Betty was responsible for moving the library’s books again into the new high school building where it is located today. She engineered the move by using students who carried armloads of books on a school bus and made multiple trips.

Following Betty, Caroline Marlette and Ellen Palmer served as media specialists at ZHS.  Ernie Wise has served as Media Specialist at ZHS since 1993 along side Judy Norris.  The greatest change has undoubtedly been the influx of technology and research tools and equipment that revolutionize the classification of information.  At the retirement of Ernie, we cannot help but reflect on a career of service and dedication.  We thank you Ernie for all that you have given to the school and community.  We cannot help but also reflect on the many that have also held this position.

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 May 7, 2009.

All rights reserved. Photos © Madonna Jervis Wise

Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary: The State-of-the-art Gymnasium of 1967

By , 11 January, 2010, 2 Comments

In recent years, when many new school buildings are being opened in our county and marvelous remodeling and rebuilding efforts are taking place, community members don’t seem to be as fascinated with the unveiling of new educational facilities as they once were.  In the chronicles of school history in our community, the opening of schools was however, a cause for great jubilation.  Perhaps one of the most momentous occasions occurred in 1967 when a gymnasium was constructed and the community gathered around to enjoy this new-found status.  You see, the Zephyrhills Basketball team and other teams had played previously in outdoor courts and to have a state-of the art gymnasium was really the ‘cat’s meow.’

On January 12, 1967, Zephyrhills News reported:

A rare opportunity to visit those areas of a gymnasium usually restricted to physical education students and coaches will be afforded the public today when open house is held in the new gymnasium-classroom on the Zephyrhills High School campus. The Parent-Teacher Association will sponsor refreshments hosted by a committee headed by Mrs. Robert Chadwell, arranging for the social hour.  The opening game in the gym is Saturday evening against Tampa Catholic.

Imagine that for the first time, the high school graduation of 1967 was also held in this new gymnasium with ample room for seating. The auditorium had served quite well up until this time but by 1967, the graduating class had grown to 63 students and a new facility was needed. Here is a glimpse at that first graduation in the new gymnasium in 1967 from a Zephyrhills News article of June 1, 1967:

“The new ZHS gymnasium will be the scene beginning at 8 p.m. tomorrow of commencement exercises for the 63-member senior class. It will be the first community activity, excepting basketball, to be held in the structure which was dedicated earlier this year. Principal Raymond B. Stewart will preside at the annual event which is expected to attract a large attendance by relatives and friends of the graduates. It will afford many a first opportunity to see the long-awaited new physical education facility.

Mrs. Monroe Treiman, Supervisor of Pasco County Schools, is to make awards presentations and Mrs. V. E. Witt, Zephyrhills member of the Pasco County Board of Public Instruction, will deliver diplomas to the graduates.

“Speakers will include Salutatorian Joan Thompson, Valedictorian Marcia Deming, Class President Alice Back and Student Council President Richard Kinney. Reverend Richard Pollard, Vicar of the St. Elizabeth Church, is to give the invocation and the benediction will be given by the Reverend Millard Mount, pastor of the First Christian Church with Julia Miller as organist.  After commencement exercises, parents will host a buffet supper and swimming party at the VFW Hall and Municipal Pool.”

To get a feel for the topics of the day, here are some excerpts from those above-referenced 1967 graduation speeches:

Joan Thompson, salutatorian, and daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Thompson, paid tribute to the teachers who have “guided us when we were uncertain or in difficulty and shown us how to bridge the gaps of thought along the way. Most of their help has been taken for granted but we are grateful for your passing on to us the culture which is America…for building patterns of morality as well as bridges of thought and for teaching character in our daily lives.”

Alice Back, class president, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Emmanuel Back, recalled developments in the field of motion pictures, radio, television, automobiles, airplanes, freeways and missiles, and said, “behind all the development has been the natural urge which people have to make things, for people want to use their knowledge and abilities in the most satisfying way they can find—the creation of new things and ideas.”
Recalling the time when people lived and died within a few hundred miles of the place of their birth, Miss Back said, “The automobile changed the private, social, industrial, and political life of the nation…leveled hills, extended horizons, created new opportunities. And just as the automobile was and is a factor in our world of mechanics and automation yesterday and today so will be nuclear energy in the tomorrows. Increased leisure time coupled with the creative drive within people will make for greater advancements in many fields…it is our responsibility to preserve what we have inherited, to become good Americans, to oppose any doctrine which attempts to destroy our heritage…By continuing a love for our country and her ideals, we will prosper and experience an even greater evidence of the creative drive.”

Marcia Deming, Valedictorian, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Deming said:
 “We must learn to rise above the conflicts and tensions so prevalent today and keep in mind that all these conveniences and improvements of the modern age do not provide solutions to our personal problems,” she said and continued with, “We are not satisfied to think of our lives as just short periods in an eon of time…we want to live deeply, learn, grow and be proud of our accomplishments. Each of us must find our own way to live, become involved and contribute to our civilization.”

Richard Kinney, Student Council President and son of Lt. Col. And Mrs. James F. Kinney, said “every person should ask himself what is most important?  We are God’s children and here on this earth to do His will. In making important decisions our first consideration should be ‘What would God have us to do?’ Our lives must be based on principles, our American ancestors sacrificed their most precious possessions, even their lives for what they thought was right.” Kinney quoted General Douglas MacArthur on important principles when MacArthur said, “Duty, honor, country: These three hallowed words reverently dictate what you want to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying point to build courage when courage seems to fail, to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith, and to create hope when hope becomes forlorn,” Kinney said, “this is our legacy.” He listed knowledge as the key development of strong characters to progress, self-discipline, deep thinking and right living as being among things of importance in every life.  With graduation season upon us, I’m sure the graduates of 2009 will be sharing inspirational messages as well.

Although the 2009 graduation is to be held at the Sun Dome because of the sheer size of its class, the pride of those 1967 graduates is still quite evident in the recollections of their delight in the new facility and hope for their future.

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 April 23, 2009.

All rights reserved. Photos © Madonna Jervis Wise

Zephyrhills Historical Photos: Week 7

By , 8 January, 2010, No Comment

Each week you can get a glimpse into Zephyrhills history through photographs provided by Madonna Jervis Wise. Click any image for a larger view!

Eastman's Trailer ParkGrand Marshal ErnieClements in front of Grand Marshal PosterClereen's Aerial View of Zephyrhills, FloridaGolfing Zephyrhills in 1950Hillsborough Park in the 1940s

Images of America: Zephyrhills Book Cover

Photos courtesy Madonna Jervis Wise
Author of Images of America: Zephyrhills
Scheduled to publish Spring 2010!

All rights reserved. Photo © Madonna Jervis Wise