HISTORY OF ZEPHYRHILLS HIGH SCHOOL

Highlights of 1944

Commencement Exercises To Be Held Tonight—Miss Mary Hart Receives the Highest Honors, Zephyrhills News, May 19, 1944

Tonight at 8:00 o’clock the High School auditorium of the Zephyrhills High School will be the scene of the graduation of the Class of 1944. After a week of commencement exercises this night will climax the year with the graduation of 18 Seniors.

The highest honor of all goes to Miss Mary Hart as Valedictorian; the second highest to Miss Dorothy Gonzales as Salutatorian. Other honors awarded were to Mr. Frank Sellars as Best Citizen (boy); Miss Bettie Lashley, Best Citizen (girl); and Nattie Storms, Most Worthwhile Senior.

These honors were awarded last night at the Class Night Program, which was also held in the High School auditorium. The delightful and unusual entertainment provided by the Senior Class was presented as a play entitled, “Class Night Memories.”

Each player taking his part with perfection. Much credit is due to the teachers of these students in aiding them to attain this objective and as they go out into the world, either to further study or to make their own way, they will remember and appreciate the guidance of these teachers. The entire community extends to the graduates congratulations and good wishes for success in whatever way of life they may choose for themselves.


Robert Kersey Passes Army College Tests, Zephyrhills News, May 19, 1944

Robert Kersey, a senior at Zephyrhills High School, a well-known young man in the community was notified that he was the only one who passed the army college tests given at the high school in March. This is a great honor and we know he will work hard and come out on top. The following week he reported to Tampa for his physical examination.  He was then sent to Drew field. He did not have much confidence in being able to pass, for he had tried many times to enlist in nearly all branches of our armed forces but was continually rejected because of deficient eyesight. But when he took the test—miracle of miracles happened!! Bobby had passed his physical and was now Pvt. Robert Earl Kersey, ASTRP.

He is not enlisted in the army specialized training reserve program through which he will receive six months of college training before entering his basic training. If after thirteen weeks of basic his grades prove high enough he will go to Officers’ Training School. This may result in the commission of lieutenant.

Bobby is well-known throughout the Zephyrhills community for he has displayed his talent in the local band for several years. He has also sung on several occasions at public affairs. He is also a clerk at Hart’s Store, and we are sure we will all miss his smiling face around our town.

Bobby will graduate tonight, and is subject to call by the army any time after June 1. We all want to wish him our heartiest congratulations and the greatest happiness on his new undertaking.


Juniors Enjoy Dinner and Theatre Party, Zephyrhills News, May 19, 1944

Last Friday Evening, May 19, the members of the Junior Class together with Mr. And Mrs. McKillips, Mrs. Farris Bailey, Mrs. Clardy and Mrs. Skinner, met at the local drinking fountain. After all had assembled the group piled into the cars, which took us to Tampa. After a brief ride, which seemed like an eternity to most of them, we found ourselves at the Columbia Restaurant.

There we enjoyed a meal which varied from chicken and yellow rice, trout and French fried potatoes to spaghetti and meat balls. We all gave way to the Spanish atmosphere which closed in around us. Some found themselves in weird predicaments, due to the Spanish speaking waiters. Nearly everyone received a menu as a souvenir.

After we had finished we adjourned to the cars, which took us to the Tampa Theatre. There we saw, “Tender Comrade,” starring Ginger Rogers. It is the story of the wife of one or our war heroes, which could easily be your sister, cousin or who knows, maybe even you. We found ourselves drawn in and facing the same situations as she did. This was an immensely interesting picture.

As had now become quite a habit, we again retired to the waiting cars, which took us to the Goody-Goody Drive-In for sandwiches and soft drinks. Following this we all settled back for the long ride home. This was a wonderfully eventful evening, which will long be remembered by all of us. We feel that it was one of the highlights of our High School careers.


PTA Installs Officers for Coming Year, Zephyrhills News, May 19, 1944

The P.T. A. meeting Thursday, May 18 was opened with a program by Mrs. Veva Geeting, Home Economics Teacher and her girls with a style show and songs from their show presented earlier in the day.

After the business of the day, Mrs. J. F. Clardy gave her nominating committee report, nominating: Mrs. S. Landers, President; Mrs. E.D. Arnot, Vice-President’ Mrs. Hazen Price, Secretary; and Mrs. R. Chapin as Treasurer for the coming year.

There being no other nominations, the above were approved from the floor. The new officers were presented with corsages and then installed by Mrs. J.W. Kerr, installation officer, in a very pretty ceremony.

Mrs. Burley Honored-Mrs. J.A. Burley was presented a gift by Mrs. Margaret Witham from the executive board with their appreciation for having been able to serve with her during her past term.

The eleventh grade won the room count of a dollar prize.

Their being no other business the meeting was adjourned for an hour of social activities.


Baccalaureate Services Will Be Held Sunday Night—Commencement Program is Announced, Zephyrhills News, May 19, 1944

The Commencement activities for the graduating class are to be held as follows:

Baccalaureate, Sunday, May 21, at 8:00 o’clock at the High School auditorium.

Class Night, Thursday, May 25 at 8:00 o’clock at the High School auditorium.

Commencement, Friday, May 26 at 8:00 o’clock at the High School auditorium.

The speaker for the Baccalaureate services will be the Rev. C.G. McGavern.

The speaker for the Commencement will be Chaplain F.H. Thomas, Chaplain Corps, Army Air Forces Tactical Center, Orlando, Florida. In civilian life, Reverend Thomas was a Baptist minister in Atlanta, Georgia—formerly he was chaplain at the Zephyrhills Air Base.


Special Award To Be Given In School Bond Drive, Zephyrhills News, February 4, 1944

Representatives of the Lions Club of Zephyrhills addressed the students at Zephyrhills High School at assembly Monday morning relative to the urgency of the fourth war bond drive.

The students were urged to top all previous records in bond selling.

The Treasurer of the Lions Club presented Mr. Joel Nally, ZHS Principal, with a check for $50 to be awarded to those groups of each section of the school which turn in the highest dollar value of war bonds at the end of the drive.
Every student presenting three new certificates for bonds sold to other than a member of the Lions Club will be presented with a fourth certificate for a bond bought by a Lion.

List of Lions Awards: Grand prize: $25, Senior High School Group; $5, Grammar School group. Grand prize is understood to be an award payable to the class which sells the greatest total dollar value of war bonds.

Second prize is understood to be awarded payable to the class which is the runner-up in total dollar value of war bonds.
Special Prizes: $5 to the individual who sells the most $50 war bonds; $5 to the individual who sells the most $100 war bonds; $5 to the individual who sells the most bonds of higher denominations than $100 war bonds.




Per Jeff Miller of fivay project, retrieved on November 24, 2007… “According to the St. Petersburg Times (recent article), Gulf beat Zephyrhills 61-0 on Oct. 13, 1944, and this is supposed to be Gulf's greatest ever margin of victory.”




Oldest Alumnus Honored, Zephyrhills News, 1968

At the 1968 Homecoming, Frank Sellars, male graduate of 1944, was the oldest graduate to register.





Alumni Reunion Draws 70 ZHS Grads for Talk on Old Days, Zephyrhills News, June 28, 1973, by Jaynell LeHeup

A very congenial group of 70 persons, alumni of Zephyrhills High School, families and friends met Sunday afternoon in the “Common” Room of the Bank of Zephyrhills for the annual “Summer Homecoming” and ZHS Alumni Association Reunion.
Nat Storms’1944 of Brandon, President of the Alum Association, assisted by his wife the former, Alice Jenkins, welcomed those present, who registered at the door and received a name tag.

The Reverend Arthur Austin gave the invocation. After a bountiful potluck dinner served buffet style, Zephyrhills Mayor Emerson Arnot gave a few words of greeting and welcome to fellow ZHS alumni and guests.

Both Austin’29 and Nat Storms’1944, a member of the class of 1944, remembered fondly the years of use of the downtown benches in Zephyrhills and were pleased to note that all such benches have not completely been abandoned in the ever changing years of growth and progress.

They also expressed appreciation for the Alumni Association and the opportunity to get together with old friends and fellow alumni of all generations, at this time once a year, happy gathering.




Class of 1944 Plans its 40th Reunion, Zephyrhills News, June 7, 1984

Members of the Zephyrhills High School graduating class of 1944 will hold their 40th anniversary class reunion Saturday, June 23.  

A 4-classmate committee has met to make preliminary arrangements and will attempt to contact each member of the class. Committee members are Dorothy Gonzales Frazer and Bill Womack, both of Zephyrhills, Roberta Branch Richberg of Branchton, and Nat Storms of Valrico. Other members of the class from this area are former County Commissioner Bill Hamilton of San Antonio, former U.S. Congressman Richard Kelly of Tampa and Mrs. H.C. (Christine Krusen) Douglas of Zephyrhills.


Class of 1944 Reunion Group, Zephyrhills News

There were 18 graduates in the Zephyrhills High School Class of 1944, when Commencement services were conducted during the height of World War II and of those 18, 13 made it back for the group’s 40th reunion Saturday night.
Of the 18, three are deceased, including Bill Dewey, who was killed in World War II. The others are Mary Elizabeth Neal and Jimmy Hammett.

The “old grads” first gathered at the old high school which is now Zephyrhills Junior High for a nostalgic period then joined again for dinner at the Omaha Cattle Company steakhouse, where they had a banquet room to themselves. Most were accompanied by spouses and many had to introduce themselves since they have changed some in appearance over the past four decades.  

Photo names: William A. Parsons, Orlando, Roberta Branch Richburg, Thonotosassa; Ragna Rasmussen Crail, Moncks Corner, South Carolina; Ada Mansfield Hill, Zephyrhills; Alice Sullivan Crosby, Decatur, Georgia; Margaret Karpee Chauncey, Zephyrhills: James H. Richburg, Thonotosassa; Amos “Abe” Chauncey, Immokalee; Robert E. Kersey, Class Vice President, Paducah, Kentucky; William V “Bill” Womack, Class Treasurer, Zephyrhills; Nathaniel L. “Nat” Storms, Class President, Valrico; Betty Lashley Ferguson, Lake City and Frank W. Sellars, Zephyrhills.


Alumni/Friends Reunion for 1985 Planned June 30, Zephyrhills News, June 13, 1985

High School graduations are in the limelight these past few weeks. It was one of the best and happiest times of our lives so it naturally figures that high school reunions will share some of the limelight…..Nat Storms, from the class of 1944, comes from his Valrico home each year with his wife, Alice Jenkins Storm, Class of 1942, to enjoy the reunion with old and new ZHS friends.

….Nat’s father, Don Storms of Plant city, is usually the graduate present from ZHS’s earliest class, the Class of 1913.

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