HISTORY OF ZEPHYRHILLS HIGH SCHOOL

Highlights of 1951

News Article from Zephyrhills News, June 1951

Graduation was held on June 11, 1951. Members of the graduating class were: Joyce Baker, Guy Canady, Nelda Rae Cook, Glen Davis, James Ferguson, Jon Ferguson, Rex Gilbreath, Mary Greene, Mary Jo Groselle, Walter Hill, Cynthia Hinsz, Martha Mae Keller, Erleta Keen, Jack Lamb, Marilyn McClellan, Bill Marshall, Helda Nesbit, Helene Rexroad, Barbara Sabin, Bill Stallings, Mary Ann Vestal, Donald Welsch, and Harry Wheeler.

Article reports that the class decided not to have a commencement speaker and voted to have the top four members of the class present the graduation.


ZHS Class of 1951 Sets 25th Reunion, Zephyrhills News, June 10, 1976

The Zephyrhills High School Class of 1951 will hold its 25th Silver Anniversary Reunion Saturday, June 26th at 7 p.m. at Edlee’s Steakhouse and Seafood on East 54.

Mrs. Hilda Nesbitt Guynn is coordinating efforts for this get-together and requests that anyone who wishes to contact her concerning the reunion to please telephone her home…..

She needs addresses for the following class members: Bill Marshall, Glenn Davis, Mary Jo Grosselle, Bill Stallings, Erleta Keen Smith and Donald Welsch. Anyone who could help with contacting those Class of 1951 graduates is urged to please contact Mrs. Guynn as soon as possible.

Class of 51 officers were Rex I. Gilbreath, President of the class, who is now a doctor and professor of animal nutrition and agriculture at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Jack Lamb, Vice President of the Class, now a doctor of education who is in charge of special education for Hillsborough County School System; Joyce Baker, Secretary of the Class, now Mrs. Malvin Hinsz of Zephyrhills, who formerly worked in the Zephyrhills office of the Florida Power Corporation for many years, and Mary Ann Vestal, Treasurer of the Class, now Mrs. Don Harrison, of Lakeland, an x-ray technician at Lakeland General Hospital.

Other class members besides those already mentioned included: the Class Valedictorian: Miss Martha Mae Keller and Miss Nelda Rae Cook, Salutatorian; Miss Marilyn McClellan; Miss Barbara Sabin, Miss Helene Rexroad, Walter Hill, James Richards, Guy Canaday, Harry Wheeler, James Ferguson, Jon Ferguson, Miss Cynthia Hinsz, and Miss Mary Greene.
Leon Luckenbach was ZHS Principal and faculty members were John F. Clements, Mrs. Alpha Gill, Mrs. Celia Anderson, Mrs. Constance Kaylor, Mrs. Marjorie Parantha, Terry Kirton, David “Happy” Clark, Miss Matilda Clement, Mrs. Mark Mathews, William Moore, John T.V. Clark, Jr., Mrs. Alice Atwater, and Mrs. Ruth Lamb.

Mrs. Guynn has had word from Mrs. Helene Rexroad Barker of Cathedral City, California that she will be here for the reunion, as she plans to arrive to visit her parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Rexroad in Brooksville June 23.
Mrs. Guynn wishes to add that the Reunion is not limited to the Class of 1951 but that their families, the faculty, homeroom parents and interested friends who were students with the class but did not graduate, or were from other classes are welcome to join the “Dutch Treat” Reunion.

Those not wishing to dine are still asked to come in and join the group for visiting in the private dining room which has been reserved at Ed Lee’s. Bring old yearbooks, school days pictures and souvenirs as well as up-to-date family pictures. “The more the merrier,” she reports.


Ginger Sawtelle Wins State Award, Zephyrhills News, June 8, 1951

Ginger Lee Sawtelle, Zephyrhills High School sophomore and daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Forrest Sawtelle, has brought honor to her school and home town by winning first prize in the statewide essay contest sponsored by the Ladies Auxiliary to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Ginger’s essay on the subject-“Freedom’s Open Door,” won first prize in the contest sponsored by the VFW Auxiliary, of which Mrs. R.E. Shenett is president, following which her essay was entered in the state competition. Now that she has captured the State award, the prize winning essay will go into competition for the National award.

The News congratulates Ginger on this fine achievement in competition with students from high schools throughout the state.


Zephyrhills News, July 30, 1977

Another enjoyable and successful Zephyrhills High School Alumni and Friends Reunion was held at the Zephyr Park Community Center.   Others attending the summer reunion from the Class of 1951 besides Jim Ferguson were Miss Martha Mae Keller, also of Zephyrhills, Mrs. Robert (Barbara Sabin) Bandermeir, husband and three children of Miami; and Mrs. Junior (Mary Greene) Alford, husband and five children of Lakeland…..


ZHS Alumni Boost Stadium Fund, Zephyrhills News, June 9, 1978

A large, enthusiastic crowd of home-towners, out-of-towners, and guests picnicked at the 9th annual reunion of the ZHS Alumni and Friends…….

H.D. Pollock of Zephyrhills, Class of 1935, was elected President of the 1979 ZHS Alumni and Friends. Serving with him will be R.A. “Bob” Booth of Dade City, class of 1946, Mrs. Arneta Howard Ferguson of Zephyrhills, Class of 1955, Secretary; and Mrs. Martha Mae Keller of Zephyrhills Class of 1951, Treasurer.


Commencement, Zephyrhills News, June 1, 1951

Twenty-two members of the Senior Class of 1951 will receive their diplomas Monday, June 11 at 8:00 p.m. in a ceremony to be held at the high school auditorium. In accordance with the modern way of presenting a Commencement program, there will be no guest speaker. Instead, the Seniors have chosen to have their top four honor students in charge of the proceedings.  

Baccalaureate services for the class of ’51 are to be held at the First Baptist Church on Sunday, June 10 at 8:00 p.m. Sam Lastinger of Florida Southern College is scheduled to be the speaker at this impressive candlelight ceremony.
Class night, when it is customary for the class prophecy, history and will to be read is slated for Friday night, June 8 at 8:00 p.m. At the close of this program the school yearbook, the “Zephilsco” will go on sale.

The candidates for graduation are: Joyce Baker, Guy Canaday, Nelda Rae Cook, Glen Davis, James Ferguson, Jon Ferguson, Rex Gilbreath, Mary Greene, Mary Jo Groselle. Walter Hill, Cynthia Hinsz, Martha Mae Keller, Erleta Keen, Jack Lamb, Marilyn McClellan, Bill Marshall, Hilda Nesbit, Helene Rexroad, Barbara Sabin, Bill Stallings, Mary All Vestal, Donald Welsch and Harry Wheeler.


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…………….

Member of the earliest class represented was Miss Uarda Briggs, Class of 1914. Mrs. Dew and Mrs. Briggs had also been teachers at ZHS. These prizes were donated and prepared with special artistic wrappings by Mrs. John (Cynthia Hinsz), Wilson’s daughter. Mrs. Wilson(Cynthia Hinsz), class of 1951, of Orlando, is the association’s treasurer. New officers elected without opposition are: Jim Ferguson’51, class of 1951, Zephyrhills, President.


ZHS Grad of 1951 is the Professor of the Year at Rutgers College, Zephyrhills News, May 26, 1977

Dr. Rex Gilbreath, a ZHS graduate of 1951 has been honored by being named “The Professor of the Year” at Rutgers University in New Jersey. The award was given at the Alpha Zeta Fraternity banquet. He is an associate professor for the animal science department of Cook College, a division of Rutgers.

Dr. Gilbreath resided in Zephyrhills from age 10 through his high school graduation as the foster son of Mrs. Marianne Simons Bennett and the late George Simons of Simons Road. Dr. Gilbreath is married to the former Elizabeth C. Bennett, daughter of H. Malcolm Bennett and the late Mrs. Bennett, which is how the current Malcom Bennetts of Zephyrhills met.
At Cook College, Dr. Gilbreath is both a freshman and upper-class advisor and a member of the graduate program in Nutrition. He started his career at Rutgers in 1959 as an instructor teaching animal science, after receiving both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Florida. He received his doctorate from Rutgers in 1967.

When asked for his feelings about working with students, Dr. Gilbreath said that, “the faculty exists because of the students, and I take great pleasure in working with them and for them.” Dr. Gilbreath believes that there has been some definite change in the kinds of students, continuing to say that “there has been continual improvement in the caliber; students are more sophisticated, more questioning, and this leads to healthier faculty-student relationships.”

Dr. Gilbreath also said, “I felt very honored to have even been named on the ballot, because I don’t teach a high volume course. I was shocked when I learned that I had been awarded the title.”


Reunion, St. Petersburg Times, June 25, 2001 by Michelle Jones

Jon Ferguson drove from Jacksonville, Florida to attend his 50th high school reunion in Zephyrhills. It was not only a high school reunion for him but a family reunion as well.

Joining Ferguson for the weekend events was his twin brother, Jim, who comes from north Georgia. The twins graduated in 1951… “I would have come from Timbuktu,” said Ferguson, 67.

“I’ve missed a few of the yearly reunions, and only two of the reunions held every five years for my class.”

…Ferguson said his fondest memories centered around football games. He didn’t play, but he loved to watch them. “We were mischievous too,” he said. One Halloween, he and some friends soaped the windshield of Alice Atwater’s new Hudson automobile. Atwater was one of the teachers.

“We called her car a turtle because it looked like one,” he said. “We only soaped it a little, not much.”
However his fondest memory centers around the seventh and eighth grades when he was bused to the airport barracks for classes because the school was overcrowded.

“We loved it out there,” he said. “And it was the first time we ever had man teachers. They were so special, they made the classes special.”

Ferguson said his favorite teachers were the strict ones.

“They expected more, and we really appreciated them,” he said. They (the strict ones) were Alpha Gill and Matilda Clement.”

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