Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary: Alumni Celebration

By , 25 January, 2010, 2 Comments

How about some camaraderie, fellowship and laughter? Do you need some rejuvenation in the midst of the hot summer months?  Well…reconnecting with friends and classmates will do the trick!

39th Annual ZHS Alumni Event is June 28, 2009.

Our goal for Countdown this week is to extend a hearty invitation to ZHS Alumni and friends to attend the Annual ZHS Alumni Event on Sunday, June 28 , 2009 at the Zephyrhills Lion’s Club located at 5827 Dean Dairy Road at 11:30 a.m.

On Saturday, June 27 , 2009, many alumni will be gathering at the Zephyrhills Depot Museum on South Avenue for a wonderful day of fellowship and reflection!

In honor of this annual friendship celebration, we have chronicled the evolution of the alumni reunion process in our area.  The very first Zephyrhills Alumni gathering occurred in 1931 when graduates from the classes of 1928, 1929 and 1930 congregated at Sunset Beach at Lake Pasadena.  The News reported that music was provided by Uncle Frank Tousey, the genial proprietor of Sunset Beach, who was known for his one-man band entertainment.  A business meeting was held and the officers of the first group were Arthur Austin, President; Tillie Reutimann, Vice President; Edith Plank, Recording Secretary; Sadie Turner, Corresponding Secretary and Charlie Slater, Treasurer. No doubt the stressful years of  the Great Depression in the 1930’s ended the first alumni reunion efforts but it did re-emerge many years later in 1971.

The modern-day alumni group was spearheaded by Jaynell LeHeup Vickers and born out of her own ZHS class of 1950 which graduated 28 students.  At the 20th reunion bash of the class of 1950, several commented that they would enjoy reconnecting with friends and former classmates from other classes as well. Jaynell, known for her energy and willingness to take charge, engaged the challenge and became the organizer for just such a project. She worked for many years in coordinating the alumni event.  Jaynell also wrote a column in the Zephyrhills News for awhile and was a tireless supporter of ZHS. She passed away in 2007 and will of course, be missed at the event this weekend.  While at ZHS, Jaynell was a cheerleader, class secretary, a member of the cast of the plays, Fantasy in the Attic (which she and her classmates wrote) as well as a comedy, Boarding House under the direction of their teacher, Matilda Clement.

What were things like in 1950 in Zephyrhills?

The public school in Zephyrhills (the only one back then) opened that year with a ‘record’ enrollment of 673 of which 281 were high school students.  In Pasco County there were 19 total schools (before integration there were 14 schools for white students and five schools for colored students) with school attendance in the entire county at 3,900. A whopping total of 39 school buses transported children throughout the county (Source: Zephyrhills News, September, 1950).

ZHS alumni and friends are well aware of the tremendous growth of the school and county as many have lived these changes and endured the growing pains.  Throughout the time however, the school has been a source of constancy and regeneration.

This will be realized again at the upcoming weekend’s reunion.  By the way, the current alumni officers are: Phyllis Jarrett Denney – President, Class of 1973; Lenora Pollock Stokes – Vice President, Class of 1964; Linda Locke Arant – Secretary, Class of 1978; Clereen Morrill Brunty – Treasurer & Alumni Contact, Class of 1973 and Margaret Seppanen – Historian, Class of 1956.

The traditions live on!

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 25, 2009.

All rights reserved. Photos © Madonna Jervis Wise

Centennial Street Signs

By , 24 January, 2010, No Comment

Sample Sign

Join the residents and businesses of Zephyrhills in celebrating the 100 Year Celebration taking place all this year. We will be erecting giant 7′ tall signs all the way along Main Street, each featuring a vintage photograph of the sponsors choice depicting the history of Zephyrhills (photos supplied by Madonna Jarvis Wise). Choose from 700 photographs and personalize your card with your own message to the community of Zephyrhills. Order now.

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: www.zhsalumninews.web-siteanimal.com/ 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: What’s in a name?

By , 15 January, 2010, No Comment

On November 11, 1886, a man named Simon Temple purchased 281 acres of land from Florida Railway and Navigation Corp. for a little over $1,000. He named the area Abbot after Dr. J.M. Abbot who ran a drug store at the crossroads of today’s US 301 and 5th Avenue. In 1886, Abbot became “Abbot Station” when the Seaboard Coast Line depot was built.


Capt. Howard B. Jeffries

In December 1909, a Civil War veteran captain by the name of Capt. Howard B Jeffries bought 35,000 acres at Abbot Station with his wife, Helen Jeffries, and their daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Moore. He chose Abbot Station because he wanted to create a retirement area for old union soldiers. The land was high and fertile with an abundance of water and no swamps. How Capt. Jeffries came up with the name Zephyrhills is a bit of a story.

While showing off the land to prospective residents, Capt. Jeffries happened to overhear  a conversation about the “rolling hills” and “zephyr-like breezes.” Moved by the remark, he coined a new name for the colony company: Zephyrhills. On March 10, 1910, Abbot Station changed its name to Zephyrhills. There are variations to this story; it has been said the town was initially named Jeffries Hills and evolved to Zephyrhills from there.

A 1912 newspaper article described Zephyrhills as “the healthiest place in Florida;” it incorporated as a town in 1914. Known for its citrus groves, pure water, and good people, Zephyrhills grew quickly. Capt. Jeffries home, now a historic landmark at 38537 5th Avenue, is one of the oldest residences in Zephyrhills.


Helen & Howard Jeffries

A call for descendants

By , 15 January, 2010, No Comment


We are looking for descendants of Capt. Howard B. Jeffries, the founder of Zephyrhills. If you, or anyone you know, is a direct descendant of Capt. Jeffries, please contact us with your name and relation.

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