History of Hernando High School

Some information was taken from the 1989 booklet published on the centennial of HHS and from A History of Hernando County 1840-1976 by Richard J. Stanaback. Corrections or other information are welcome. Archivist, West Pasco Historical Society.

Brooksville Pictures

Two grammar schools were situated in the Brooksville area in the 1880’s. One was located inside the city limits in the northeastern part of town on Saxon Avenue near the old Saxon house, serving the North Brooksville School District, while a second was located south of the city limits, serving the South Brooksville School District. The growth and general prosperity of the period led to a proposal to consolidate the two schools and to update the system by extending education through the tenth grade. To that end, a committee composed of William E. Hope, S. W. Davis and Warren Springstead addressed the school board on October 1, 1888. In a meeting of the school board on the following day, the proposal was approved. A site committee composed of Dr. Sheldon Stringer, Frank E. Saxon, George Higgins, Warren Springstead, and J. C. Phillips was selected. Arrangements were quickly made to purchase land owned by Martha and Thomas Cook in Saxon Heights for $499. The property ownership was assumed by the board on October 27, 1888. A building was quickly erected and a four month term was instituted, with the new school being named Hernando High School on February 4, 1889.

The first Hernando High School

The first faculty for Hernando High School was Prof. E. R. Warrener, Principal; Mrs. E. R. Warrener, Assistant Principal; Miss Baker and Miss Wooten. With the consolidation of the two schools, Dr. S. Stringer, F. E. Saxon, and W. Springstead were appointed as the new Board of Trustees.

As the number of graduates increased, Professor J. T. Mallicoat (d. 1924), principal of the high school from 1890 to 1896, suggested that an alumni association be inaugurated as a means of “keeping in touch.” But it was not until March 1899, that an organization calling itself the Alumni Association of Hernando High School initiated annual gatherings. The association met at the homes of members and various other locations up to 1931 when notations in the minutes’ book ceased

Hernando High School in 1900 was administered by Principal I. B. Turnley, who was considered very resolute by at least one of his students, Edwin R. Russell. Getting to and from school then was becoming more of a chore as the hub of Brooksville shifted to the vicinity of the courthouse. The students took their lunches with them and ate under the trees at lunch time. The play area at rear of the building was divided by a stout wooden fence, with one side for girls and the other for boys. Water was obtained from a well, and carted into the classrooms each day where it was stored in large tanks. Subjects taught in the tenth grade included Latin, physical geography, trigonometry, botany and psychology.

Teachers for 1901-02 were Prof. E. F. Wilson, principal; Mr. Norton Keathley, Miss Lizzie Russell, Miss Ida Sewell, Miss Minnie Coogler, assistants, and one vacancy not yet announced.

The commencement exercises for he class of 1902 listed the names of Miss Alice M. Hale, Miss Nell J. Coogler, Miss Hattie V. Rice, and Adrian O. Coogler as graduates and was held at Jennings Hall in Brooksville on April 25, 1902. The address was given and diplomas handed out by Governor, William S. Jennings, Hernando County’s most noted resident. The faculty at that time comprised: E. F. Wilson, Principal; Norton Keathley, Assistant Principal; and Misses Laue E. Sewell, Leda B. Kirk, Minnie H. Coogler, and Ira T. Sewell, teachers.

In 1902-03 Prof. Robert M. Evans of Tallahassee was the principal.

In 1904-05 the principal was Prof. Thomas W. Hartman of New Jersey.

The commencement in May 1906 was held in the opera house. Helen Martin and Rosalie Byrd were given diplomas. Miss Martin was the valedictorian; Miss Byrd was the salutatorian. At this time the Principal was L. D. Hathaway, with assistants Misses Turner, Miller, Stubbs, Coogler, and Byrd.

On Aug. 29, 1906, Miss Florence Miller, of Lake City, who taught at Hernando High School for the last two years, married County Treasurer A. C. Mickler.

On Jan. 29, 1907, the Tampa Morning Tribune quoted the Brooksville Star as saying, “In view of the continual wrangles in the Hernando High School, we believe the School Board would be justified in discontinuing this school for the term.”

On May 5, 1907, the Tampa Morning Tribune reported, “Brooksville has a graded high school with seven teachers and an enrollment of some 200 pupils.”

In 1907-08 the principal was the much-praised Prof. Edward Wetter.

The second Hernando High School (1911-1918)

The frame high school building, then almost twenty years old, was deteriorating and in a sad state of repair. On June 25, 1911, the Tampa Morning Tribune referred to “the handsome new high school that is to be erected right away.” When completed, the new school would replace the old wooden building with five rooms and would include nine rooms at a cost of $10,000. In addition, running water was to be installed along with a pump house and a new well. The high school was then under the direction of Professor Wilder, who had six assistants.

At the annual banquet of Hernando High School on May 31, 1912, the lack of boys staying in school to graduate was discussed.

The principal in 1911-12 was A. A. Price. Graduates included Misses Sallie Burwell, Bertha Hancock (valedictorian), Barbara Weston, and Dora Ayers.

The salutatorian is shown as Sara Cabell Burwell.

Teachers appointed for the 1912-13 school year were Prof. I. T. Pearson, principal and teacher of the 11th and 12th grades; Sexton Johnson, first assistant and teacher of the 9th and 10th grades; Mrs. Malcomb W. Smith, teacher of the 7th and 8th grades.

On April 15, 1913, the Tampa Morning Tribune listed the honor roll students in grades Chart through 12th. Those in the higher grades were as follows. 9th grade, Bessie Turbyfill, Trilby Chambers, Eunice Letchworth, Fred Frierson, Nettie Cason. 10th grade, Irma Chambers, Marion Watson, Jennie Grazier, Willah Burrows. 11th grade, Kenneth Burwell, Lynda Jennings, Capitala Powell, Inez Chalker, Gladys Hancock, Ella Wande Snow. 12th grade, Maude Lawhon, Edith Fulton (valedictorian).

The county school board appointed Prof. I. T. Pearson principal of HHS for the 1913-14 school year. Charles B. Gallaway was his assistant. Teachers: Mrs. Burrows, Miss Esther Wiley, Miss Myra Newsome, Miss Daisy Ayers, Mrs. I. W. Reagan, Miss Ada Law, Mrs. B. B. Arick, Miss Irene Hampton, Miss Nina Sowell.

Although the brick high school was just a few years old in 1914, it was already overcrowded. This was due primarily to the fact that it housed all grades from first through the tenth. The high school students, numbering sixty-five, were crammed into two small rooms. So great was the crush that the Brooksville Christian Church had to be rented for two of the lower grades.

The 1914-15 school year had 61 high school students, including 15 seniors.

In Jan. 1915 some of the teachers were I. T. Pearson, principal; C. H. Galloway, assistant principal; Mrs. Grace Burrows; Miss Ada Law. L. D. Hathaway, now a prominent businessman of Brooksville, is a former principal.

In 1915 Hernando High School won the state’s first track and field championship. Members of the team included captain Ray Pearson, C. Law, Ernest Rutledge, J. B. Law, J. Law, and W. Hope.

In 1915-16 the teachers were: I. T. Pearson, Chas. B. Galloway, Mrs. Grace Burrows, Miss Lois Hatcher, Miss Jessie Hunt, Miss Mollie Grubs, Mrs. I. W. Reagan, Miss Edith Fulton, Miss Beryl Russell, Miss Helen Kitchen, Miss Bertha Hancock, Miss Nona Sewell.

On Oct. 18, 1916, the Tampa Morning Tribune reported that the football team would play its first game on Oct. 20 at Plant City High School. The remaining schedule: Oct. 27, Lakeland (away); Nov. 4, open; Nov. 11, Hillsborough Reserves (home); Nov. 18, Gainesville (undecided); Nov. 24, Lakeland (away); Nov. 30, open.

On May 14, 1917, the Tampa Morning Tribune reported that I. T. Pearson, for the last five years the supervising principal of Hernando High School, had resigned to accept a position in the southern part of the state.

Teachers for the 1918-19 school year were: principal, Rev. P. H. Hensley Jr.; 7th grade, Miss Medora Lowry; 8th grade, Miss Jessie Hunt; mathematics and history, Mrs. F. P. Strong; Latin and English, Mrs. C. M. Price.

On Dec. 13, 1918, the Dade City Banner reported, “Unfortunate Brooksville had another fire last week—this time their $30,000 school house. It is thought the building was set on fire by some miscreant, but there is no known reason for such a crime. ‘Owing to lack of water to fight the flames was useless,’ says the Southern Argus.”

Leamon Varn later recalled that a large delegation of Brooksville’s citizens turned out in a vain attempt to save the building. But modern fire equipment was lacking, and it was destroyed, with only some furniture and few educational materials being saved. Students were then housed for the next few months at numerous locations in the city: high school classes were held in the courthouse, with the eighth grade in Masonic Hall, fourth grade in city hall, the first and second grades in the Presbyterian Church, with still others in various places including the Christian Church, the Jennings Building, and over the Hernando State Bank. A positive result of the fire, however, was the construction of a more centrally located facility on Howell Avenue on property purchased from Mrs. Gary.

In June 1919 the Hernando County school board awarded the contract for the erection of the new Hernando High School to C. M. Emmerson & Co. The cost was $36,717.

On July 27, 1919, the Tampa Morning Tribune reported, “The question as to the location of the new Hernando high school building was decided by an election last Tuesday. The result was 80 to 42 in favor of the Gary property. C. H. Emmerson has the contract for erecting the building, which will be a great credit to the city, and work on the same will begin immediately.”

On Oct. 5, 1919, the Tampa Morning Tribune reported:

As the new building of the Hernando High School has just recently been started, the opening exercises for the term of 1919-1920 were held in the Culpepper tent near the court house last Monday morning. There was an unusually large attendance. The devotional exercises were conducted by Rev. John B. Culpepper. Other speakers were Principal R. R. Ray, Rev. H. T. Gaines, Col. E. B. Coogler, a trustee, Dr. W. O. Lemasters, superintendent of public instruction; Mrs. F. P. Strong, assistant principal, and Mrs. Robert Toombs, one of the high school teachers.

The third Hernando High School (1920-1925)

By late 1919 or early 1920, the new school was ready for occupancy. It contained eleven recitation rooms, a library, several bookrooms, an auditorium, and a large basement.

On Sept. 30, 1920, the Tampa Morning Tribune reported, “High School students have resumed the publication of their school paper, ‘The Hernando Hilltop,’ which will be published every two weeks….”

Among the appointees for 1921-22: Principal, T. E. McCall; first assistant, M. L. Shane Jr.

Appointed for the 1922-23 school year were: Prof. T. E. McCall, principal; M. L. Shane Jr., assistant.

For the 1923-24 school year Prof. P. H. Hensley was appointed principal.

In May 1924 five girls and five boys received their diplomas. Valedictorian was Miss Eva Lou Daniels and the salutatorian was George Adams Rogers. The commencement program was under the direction of Prof. P. H. Hensley, assisted by Miss Mathis of the English and Expression department.

The extension of Florida’s real estate explosion to Hernando County in the mid 1920’s placed a substantial burden on its educational facilities, especially in Brooksville where the Howell Avenue School was soon bursting at the seams. By 1925, it had an enrollment of 500, whereas, it had been constructed to accommodate only 350. Single desks being used by two students and other similar inconveniences were a daily occurrence. Although originally built on the supposition that it would last ten years, it was evident by then that a separate high school would have to be erected.

On March 19, 1925, the school board selected as the architect Frank F. Jonsberg. He was well known for his design of the St. Petersburg Junior High School and that of several other impressive educational buildings.

The fourth Hernando High School (1925-1959)

The term had to be delayed until the high school was ready for occupancy on October 5. When it opened, it also contained two overflow grammar school classes. An old house on its grounds also had to be pressed into temporary use. The new building on Bell Avenue was built for the High School at a cost of $75,000.00. The two story stucco structure featured Spanish style architecture. The physical education field was located between the new school and the Howell Avenue School. The Howell Avenue School then became a grammar school. The new school had tile floors in the halls and enclosed stairwells opening into the upstairs halls. The school used an outdoor basketball court. At dismissal times, the buses lined up between the two schools for the boarding of students from both schools. The new facility had history rooms, a home economics suite, and a chemistry lab on the ground floor. The library was on the second floor. Mrs. Kitchen was librarian for many of the years. Also on the second floor were the typing, English, Spanish and math classes.

At the start of the 1926-27 school year high school enrollment was 160: 17 seniors, 38 juniors, 49 sophomores, and 56 freshmen. The previous year’s enrollment was 149.

On Sept. 9, 1928, the Tampa Morning Tribune listed the teacher appointments for Hernando High School: Principal, Prof. Kenneth B. Hait; assistants, Ambrose Meyer and W. H. Swindle; Mrs. Anne McCall, Miss Marian McCool, Miss Mae Warner, Miss Elizabeth Lowe, Mrs. Ralph Cullen, Mrs. C. O. Folks, Mrs. J. O. Kazee, Mrs. Vince Maner, Mrs. J. P. Hernigan, Miss Lula Hope, Miss Beryl Russell, Miss Anna Hathaway, Miss Alice Ayers, Miss Norma Burdin, Miss Nellie Johnston, Miss Mary Elonia Frazee, Miss Gertrude Newbill, and Mrs. Gus Houser.

In June 1929 two graduates had grades so close to each other, both slightly above 95%, that they were both named valedictorians: Dorothy McKethan and Daniel Rockwell. Seventeen other pupils were in the class, including salutatorian Virgie Landrum, with a mark of 90%.

Teachers appointed for 1929-30 were Principal Prof. Kenneth B. Hait; assistants, W. H. Swindle, science; Miss Elizabeth Lowe, teacher training and mathematics; Miss Lilllian Morris, home economics; Mrs. C. M. Price, commercial and English; Edwin Hufford, coach and history; Mrs. Edwin Hufford, physical education, English, and coach for girls; Miss Fannie Wasley, Latin and English; Miss Nellie Webster, Spanish and library.

Teachers appointed for the 1930-31 school year were Prof. Kenneth B. Hait, principal; E. W. Hufford, coach; Mrs. E. W. Hufford, Wilburn Hubbard, Mrs. Charles M. Price, Miss Lillian Morris, Miss Nellie Webster, Miss Ada Law (Latin and English), Miss Melissa Smith (mathematics).

Teachers appointed for the 1931-32 school year were R. O. McEwen, supervising principal; assistants, Mrs. R. O. McEwen, Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Hufford, W. L. Hubbard, Mrs. C. M. Price, Mrs. Nellie Kitchen, and Miss Lillian Morris.

In April 1933, 27 seniors graduated. The valedictorian was Hortense Trelman, with an average of 95.03. The salutatorian was Anna Kana, with an average of 94.83. The other 10 above 90 were Ed Mac Senterfitt, Gertrude Hull, Ima Morgan, Robins Morton, Frances Lingle, Arlene Gray Lockhart, Adrian Mountain, Nancy Keathley, and Wilbur Luttrell. The other 15 members of the class were Mary Beacham, Susie Cox, Erma Lowman, Pauline Nunn, Frances Reeder, Thierl Bean, Gerald Brock, Walter Cook, Mayo Cox, Hale Daniel, Dent Lanier, Willie Lewis, Cass Maze, C. B. McMichael, and Daniel Reynolds.

In 1933-34 supervising principal was Kenneth B. Hait and his assistants were Miss Ada Law, Wilburn Hubbard, Miss Lois Hancock, Miss Dorothy McKethan, and Karl Luttrell.

The county budgeted for a nine month school term at Hernando High in August 1935. But the regular term could not be sustained, as it was cut to eight months again in 1938, thereby causing the high school to lose accreditation.

In the fall of 1957, the state recommended a $1.1 million construction program be initiated by the county. It had been determined that Hernando County would need twenty new classrooms in the next five years to keep pace with student growth. Construction of a new high school and a new elementary school were included in the recommendation. During that period, the county embarked upon an unprecedented expansion in physical facilities by purchasing a large tract of land at the north end of Bell Avenue from J. C. Emerson. On this site was constructed a comprehensive high school facility which has since been enlarged almost on an annual basis.

Hernando High School

Students were moved into the present Hernando High School in November, 1959. It began with 12 regular classrooms, four science labs, a home economics suite, a commercial suite, a library, restrooms and boiler roans. The walls were constructed of concrete block, faced on the exterior with locally produced McDonald Buff Brick and painted light tan on the inside. Aluminum awning type windows were installed and are still used today. The floors were covered with asphalt tile. The home economics suite was divided into two major areas: one for cooking and one for sewing. There were four science labs. The library was the size of three classrooms.

These facilities were the result of two years of construction. The construction of the school was given the first priority by a team of specialists from the Department of Education who conducted a survey of the county’s building needs in October, 1957. The initial construction cost on the 27.6 acre site was $291,550.00.

With the new facilities, a curriculum expansion was made. Hernando High School now had higher levels of math, science, and foreign language classes. It was one of two high schools in Florida with a course in second year chemistry. The results of the new program were immediately evident when comparing the students tested achievement progress with their past rates of achievement. In 1959, HHS was in the top 10% In Florida High School Scholastic honors.

From 1959 to the present, Hernando High has been expanded to include 15 buildings. A first class sports complex has been established at the school by the School Board and the community and its businesses. In the seventies, the school became classed as a comprehensive high school with an expanded vocational curriculum.

The future of Hernando High School appears bright with a proposed construction of a new theatre-style auditorium to serve the schools and the community of Brooksville.

In 2018 Laverne Hammock Tornow wrote the following on Facebook, which may conflict with some of the preceding information: “All the info I have came from the Train Depot Museum and Library from research done by Virginia Jackson. I also have gone through the deeds and other legal documents. Indications are the wood frame structure built in 1885 burned to the ground before the close of the first year, having been struck by lightning. The second brick structure replaced it and that one was built near the Hilltop. Not sure what happened to it, but I seem to recall that it also fell victim to a fire as there are no brick structures in that immediate area. In 1910 a new school was built on Howell Ave, where First Baptist is today, that one was the HS til 1925. In 1926 the NEW HHS opened right behind the one on Howell on Bell Ave. That one operated 1926-1959. School year 1959-1960 was held in the open air campus at the present HHS location from 1959-60 to whenever the present ugly monstrosity replaced it.”


These lists are taken from the centennial booklet.


The faculty and graduates of Hernando High School met in the Jennings Opera House on March 31, 1899, to form the first Alumni Association. Fourteen members were in attendance.

In 1912, Mr. Burwell and Miss Hancock, graduates, delivered essays at graduation. The audience placed flowers at the feet of the graduates in 1912.

At the 1912 graduation, some of the music was by Helen Martin.

The Hernando High School mascot was the “Tangerine” and the colors were purple and gold in the early 1900’s.

The mile relay race was entered by Walter Hope, Raymond Pierson, Ernest Rutledge, and Jim Law. They took the first State Championship for HHS in 1915.

In 1916-17, all conference champions in track. A loving cup was given to Knight and Wall.

The track team hold 1st and 2nd place in all entries in 1917.

In 1916, the first football team was formed.

All kids walked to school and brought their lunches.

The early graduations were held at the Jennings Opera House.

The Alumni Association met at the Opera House, the Varnada Hotel, The Tangerine Hotel, and various homes.

The early alumni meetings consisted of piano and vocal recitals.

In 1919, the yearly Alumni dues was 25 cents per year.


In 1920, the first class to graduate from new Howell Avenue High School building with two graduates, Miss Lula Hope and Herbert Brown.

The Hernando Leopards were also referred to as “Tangerines.”

In a 1920 school event, entertainment was given by the “Ukulele Ladies” – Flo Stone, Mary Sally Petteway and Marguerite Baldwin.

There was no lunch room. Most of the students walked to school, some rode in a car. There were a few school buses. Students used tablet writing paper for school.

Parents hosted dances in the homes. A volunteer would play the piano or other musical instrument.

The 1921 track team won 2nd place at State – Gordon Kitchen at the high hurdle; Gordon Petteway, 1st place in the 100 yard dash.

The 1922 class produced The Purple and Gold, the first yearbook.

Marion Lindsey Dawson graduated in 1923 and became a Major General in the Marines.

A strong football team led to many victories for HHS.

2nd place in District Meet in Tampa.

January 27, 1926, hot lunches started. Prior to this time, students brought their own lunches.

Beginning of 9-month school year. School started in September instead of October.

Thomas P. Gary designed the first class ring in 1926. It had a tangerine on the top of the stone.

The Jr. High system is inaugurated as part of the school program in 1926. A new library was created for HHS Junior and Senior High.

The High School moved to Bell Avenue location because of over-crowding. In the late 1920’s, residents fell behind in tax payments because of the land bust. This impacted the financial support of the school.

The Southern Association of Accreditation visited HHS and gave a rating of excellent.

Hair styles were short – there were no beauty shops so Hernando High School girls went to the barber shop.

The 1929 championship baseball team members were: James Teuton Varn, Scott Hull, Hurbert Rick, Lesley Bell, Bill Good, Grier Hope, Robert Ghiotto, Nevit Cook, Boo Durshimmer with Coach Meyer.

Some of the girls basketball team members were Ellen Mae Weeks Snow, Mary Arick, Dorothy Spear, Elberta Priest O’Brian, Delmas Cain Fuls, Mahala Robinson and Elizabeth Sewell.

Girl basketball players wore purple bloomers.

P. E. class wore black or purple bloomers, some were made of sateen.

The dances were in homes – most did not have a radio. Someone would play the piano or a victrola.

The Junior-Senior banquets and dances were held at the Hickory Hill Golf and Country Club and Tangerine Hotel.

Most Hernando High School girls carried compact to powder their noses.


County schools opened two months late in 1930. The School Board announced they couldn’t keep schools open for a 9 month year.

The School Board asked parents of Hernando High students to pay $1.50 per month to save the accreditation status. Most couldn’t pay.

In October, 1931, the School Board stated that the teachers would receive only 40% of that month’s wages. Eventually it went to ½ pay for the month.

Betting became legal with ½ of the taxes collected being distributed to the counties for school funding.

Hernando High held its first Homecoming in 1932.

Gas tax went towards education.

In 1935, a law was passed for free text books. A. M. C. Russell accomplished this task.

43 graduated in June, 1936. Largest class to graduate from Hernando High to date. There were 2 sets of twins, Lorena and Wallace Long and Ann and Joe Sistrunk.

In 1938, HHS lost its accreditation because the county couldn’t afford to stay open for a 9 month period.

Some of the outstanding football players of the Thirties were: Lowman, Mills, Ghiotto, Sellers, Maze, Burket, Buck Hope, Horace Gant, Eddie McIntyre, George and Ben Cappleman, Bertie Crum, Joe Johnston, Neil Law, Jr., Wade Hull, Jack Emerson, Eddie Blaha, Charles Tidwell, Boo Dursheimer, Frank Voscenar, Andy and August Michlek, Hansel Boyd, Bobbie Lingle, Jack Underwood, Daniel Hardy, Everett Deems, Billy Wood Manevich, and Melvin Hedrick.

In the late 30’s, Brooksville Juvenile Band became Hernando High School Band and met in the old Legion Building. The band marched in St. Petersburg Festival of States. Doris Menges was the first Drum Major. First Band director was Eloise Kennedy. The FFA took trips To Washington D. C.


In 1940, the Senior Play was “PROFESSOR HOW COULD YOU.”

The School Board promises to get Music next tenn in Hernando High School curriculum. Music was to include band and glee club.

A Brooksville housewife will pay additionally 2 ration points for a pound of butter.

HHS undergoes an Air Raid Drill.

Florida to do 7400 models of airplanes for training of new pilots.

FFA and others agree to make model planes.

18 and 19 year olds to register for New Selective Service Law.

In September, Hernando County was over the $200,000 mark in sale of War Bonds. We gained nationwide prominence for this record.

In October, the school had a drive for scrap metal and rubber for the war effort.

Hernando High School Senior Class Play was “TOO MANY RELATIVES.”

The 1943 Class Play was “GIRL SHY.” Tickets were 35 cents for adults, 20 cents for children.

The School Board voted to give the boys in the Armed Forces their diplomas without going through the commence exercises.

Hernando County was in better financial shape than in the 30’s. The school term was again for 9 months in 1944.

After WW II, the County started consolidation of all grammar schools.

School band re-organized September 12, 1946 under Band Director George Kayton with a twenty-eight piece marching band.

Thirty-one students were in the ’49 Senior class – 10 boys and 21 girls.

HHS participated in the Gasparilla Parade in Tampa for the first time in February, 1947. Margaret Eppele was drum major with George Kayton as band director.

The girls and boys basketball teams ended the 1946-47 season with winning teams.

The ’47 senior play “Almost Eighteen” was presented March 7, and was directed by Martha Pekovsky.

HHS graduation was held May 23, 1947. Dr. Kenneth Austin was a member of the graduating class.

The ’47 Seniors took a trip to Clearwater Beach as their class trip.

School opened September 12 for the 1947-48 term.

Hernando High and Brooksville Grammar School enrolled 595 students.

George Kinnear, a former HHS student was playing on the Naval football team in Corpus Christi, Texas and later became an Admiral.

In 1948, Jimmie Gordon was the drum major. 45 members in the HHS band marched in the Gasparilla Parade. FFA and FHA held their annual banquet on April 15.

Andy Oravec was President of FFA. The Senior Class went to Washington D.C. for their senior trip. This was the first educational tour outside of Florida by HHS seniors. 23 Graduated in the Class of 1948.

Bob Wilson was captain of the football team, Dave Jackson and Elbert Royal were alternate captains.

The new athletic field was dedicated October 22, 1948. This had been known as the Red Hill Ball diamond. New Port Richey was the first team played on the new field. HHS won 19-0. The first homecoming game was held October 29 and HHS won over Webster 61-0. HHS won the West Coast Championship. W. A. Biggart was Principal and Tan Varn, Sr., coach.

42 Seniors received their graduation certificates in 1949.

The School team won the Conference Championship.

Hernando High “Leopard Eleven” won over Inverness 6-0 to maintain the unbeaten season with Tom Varn, Sr., Coach.


The 1950 HHS football, basketball and baseball teams all won West Coast Conference. First time in history of conference, all three sports were won by one school – Tom Varn, Sr., was the coach.

A letter contest was held to support tax monies for the Public Library.

Band concerts in the City Park Band shell were a popular item in the 1950’s.

The Primary School on Bell Avenue opened in 1951.

Unveiling of J. C. Emerson Memorial at Emerson Field.

The ’52 Leopards hold best sports record in the state.

The first Miss H.H.S. contest was held and won by Ethyl Mae Allen.

The ’52 Senior Play “The Angel Brats.”

The high school baseball team held a special game to raise money for cancer.

“King Neptune” was the theme for Junior/Senior prom in 1952.

Martha Slayden was FFA Sweetheart in 1952.

A school safe stolen by robbers.

The Quarterback Club planned to build rooms and a ticket booth at Emerson Field in 1953.

HHS Band went to the Strawberry Festival at Plant City.

Record school budget is adopted, proposed expense near one half million dollars.

A Senior could be “hired” to do odd jobs fundraiser for the 1954 senior class.

The last “Rat Day” initiation was held in 1953.

The “Cottage Dinette” was the local hangout.

Girls Basketball Team won the West Coast Conference. The Conference then voted to discontinue girls basketball.

HHS Band received many honors in 1954.

The Championship Crown was won by the HHS baseball team.

The PTA sponsored a Gospel Sing.

Portable bleachers were at the football field.

A fake football player enrolled at HHS on November 1954.

First Leopard Growl was held in 1954.

Talks began about building a new gym at HHS with a proposed cost of $100,000.

Drivers Education classes were proposed in 1955.

The ’55 Senior Class play was “Off the Track.”

The baseball team won the 1955 Conference Championship.

Cecil Miller and Ken Looper were accepted into the Naval School of Music.

One half pint of milk cost .03 at HHS in the fifties.

In 1955, 4 HHS football players were chosen as All Conference – Bill Hope, Glenn Glass, Philip Moore and Ronnie Tolar.

Students from HHS were on “Paul Reynold’s Open House” TV show on Channel 13.

The first Leopard Growl with a Bonfire and snake dance was held in 1955.

Jim Colson introduced “The Bunny Burger” at the Dinette, named after Mullen Lewis.

“Big Daddy” Don Gartlits broke the quarter mile race driving record at Hernando Airport.

The HHS band received Sousa Award for outstanding service in 1957.

A Contract for a new high school designed by J. K. Batsone of Clearwater was quoted at $64,305 for five classrooms on Kelly Street.

Classes learn radio broadcasting in 1958 at WWJB.

A portable skating rink came to Brooksville yearly.

Intramural sports for girls were introduced.

The “58 students enjoyed senior hall privileges, senior skip day, and sophomore senior party.

“Dumped,” glass paks, cherry mufflers appeared on all the cars in Brooksville.

The pep rallies were held on the outdoor basketball court at night and one student brought a stick of wood for the bonfire. Mrs. Bell’s black dog howled during the pep rally.

The student newspaper was the Hilltop with the “Snooper.” It was published in the local newspaper.

Ernie’s & Randy Record Mart – Hits came on the radio at 9:00.

Sophomore waiters and waitresses served at the Prom Banquet.

Local four- to five-piece bands played at dances.

Local girls were divers on Wide Wide World of Sports at Weeki Wachee.

The school was moved to the new buildings at the bottom of the hill in the fall of 1959.

There was a book chain of students lined up from the old Bell Avenue school the new Kelly Street school to move books.

White tennis shoes got muddy because there was not a road to the school.

The kids crossed a wooden bridge to walk to the Primary School for lunch.


The kids’ hangouts were the Freezette and the bowling alley.

On Sundays, everyone met at the river or would sneak into the football field to play tag football.

The after-prom parties were held at the river, Aripeka and Bayport.

In 1960, the Fighting Leopard Band marches at UF Gator Homecoming.

The Junior-Senior Prom theme was “A Hawaiian Luau” held at the Masaryktown Community Hall.

On January 7, 1961, the new gym was dedicated. Dunnellon was the first opponent.

Some varsity basketball players were Curtis Hall, Doug Jones, Dennis Vascenovoky and Tom Fisher.

The Supreme Court banned “official” prayer in schools in 1962.

The Senior Class Play in 1962-63 was The Jury Room.

During the Cuban crisis, the chemistry lab experiment exploded in Mr. Detwiler’s class and everyone had to be evacuated. They thought the war had started.

Congressman Bill McCollum was a member of the Class of 1962.

In the Fall of 62 a whale was beached at Pine island.

Most consecutive wins record for boys basketball were set in 1963-64.

In the early 1960’s HHS was seventh to twelfth 12 grades.

While riding in the 63-64 Homecoming Parade, the students listened to radio reports of the assassination of President Kennedy.

63 Seniors to receive diplomas at the 1963 graduation in the gym. Elaine Crum Sullivan was a member of this class.

A dead cow was placed on the ground outside Room 102.

The class of 1964 was the last class to go on the Senior Trip to Washington, D. C. Lyndon Johnson was president then. The class of 1964 was also fortunate to go to the World’s Fair in New York.

In the mid-sixties, shopping centers start developing on U.S. 41 South.

The baseball team won State in 1961.

In 1968, the teachers walked out over salary dispute.

Moton became an elementary school in 1969. All secondary students attended B.J.H.S. or H.H.S. when Moton and HHS merged as one Hernando High School.

The Blacks walked out in protest of the band playing Dixie.

Girls were allowed to wear slacks to school.

Americanism versus Communism was required for first time in Florida.

Deltona Corporation started Spring Hill Community in 1968.


Formation of Keyettes, sister club of Key Club in 1970.

Sit Ins were held at HHS.

Bomb scares occurred often, rain or shine.

Mike Austin breaks John Coppedge’s track records.

Homecoming bonfire mysteriously burns the night before.

The Senior Class of ’74 beat the Freshmen in Bonfire Competition. This is the last year of competition for 9th vs 12th.

Bonfire war between Senior and Sophomore class begins.

Quad was built in 1975.

Hernando High School Seal was designed by the Class of ’75.

For the Nation’s Bicentennial the class of 76 buries a time capsule to be opened in 2001.

In 1977, Jeff Hamlin set the school pole vault record of 14 ft 6½ in.

In the late 70’s, the Spirit Stick competition starts.

Chamber of Commerce starts “Honors Banquet.”

Scott Keske won the Tan Fisher Award.

Double Sessions and quarter system of classes were at HHS.

“Streaking” was popular in the halls and at graduation.

Walter Burns goes to the Air Force Academy.

The Band marches in Jimmy Carter’s inauguration parade. Band marches in the Cotton Bowl Parade. The instruments froze due to the cold weather.

First Flatlanders Challenge is held in Brooksville and the John Baker Award was given to the first finishing Hernando High School runner.

Sr. – Sophomore competition for Bonfire ends; Seniors won in 1979.


In 1980, the Hernando High School band performs at Superdome in New Orleans.

The 1981 outstanding Cross Country Teams led by Coach Ernie Chatman with runners Rocky, Jesse and Jason Heatherley went to State.

A single Bonfire – Last Bonfire – no class competition.

Class songs of the early eighties were Imagine, Time, Friends.

Jerome Brown was High School All-American in 1982.

SGA Homecoming – SGA arranged to have a fireworks show.’

Seniors built an effigy of a pirate and the President of the Senior Class, George Barney, lit it at the Growl.

Mark Carlton at the Naval Academy.

Softball team wins State in 1984 and Volleyball went to State 3 times.

Girls Basketball team goes to State

The 1985 Motto: Success lives not in being the best, but in doing your best and the Song No Good-Byes.

The 1986 Class song was For Just a Moment.

The graduation gowns were purple for men, and women in gold.

Brian Batt goes to Air Force Academy.

25 Seniors to graduate as National Honor Students.

The hang-outs were Stringer Hill area, movies, I-75, Batten Road, Power Lines and pastures.

In 1987, wrestlers Gernard Hudson and Bobby King advanced to State.

John Kara goes to the Air Force Academy.

Dixie Major World Series Champions. Sane team players were Tim Sims, Eddie Looper, Allen Platt, Sean Edwards, Brendon Harrison, and Jimmy Kimbrough.

Jason Frank set a new Hernando High School mile run record of 4:18.2 in 1988.

Two-time state champion Kevin Fitzpatrick set the discus record at 197 ft 4 in.

The kids hang out at the Publix or Winn Dixie parking lots when they are not cruising the town.

Kristi Poore and Jason Sartor set basketball records in 1989.

Karen Kelly won the Hernando High School Centennial Logo Contest.

Some Early Graduates

1892 Hardy Croom, Mrs. Aida Burns Wright
1893 Miss Louise Walker, Miss M. Walker, Miss E. Wilson, Miss Lola Bell, Miss N. Thomason
1894 Harry C. Mickler
1895 Minnie Coogler, James Nevitt Cook (became Hernando treasurer in 1898, d. Feb 4, 1905), Daisy Keathley, Norton Keathley, Ira Sewell, Marugeritte Stringer
1901 Drew Byrd, Violet Byrd, Baisden Mickler, Aimie Russell, Sheldon Stringer
1902 Neil Coogler, Alice Hale, Hattie Rice, Adrian O. Coogler
1903 Adrian C. Coogler
1904 Annie Jo Law, Joseph Mickleer
1906 Helen Martin, Rosalie Byrd
1908 Charles J. Cappleman, Thurlow T. Cappleman
1911 Sarah (McKenzie) McCrory, Carl Sewell, Freddie Lee Wilder
1912 Dora Josephine Ayers, Bertha Hancock, Sarah Cabell Burwell, Barbara Weston
1913 Gladys Chalker, Herman Chalker, Margaret Cobb, Edith Fulton, Maude Laughorn or Lawhon, Sallie Jim Moore
1914 Jennie Grozier, Beryl Russell, Willah Burrows, Imo Chambers, Myrtle Taylor, Marion Watson
1917 Alice Ayers, Hillary Cason, Marie McIntosh Clark, William Faulkner, Chauncey Kennedy, Edna Chalker Lee, Anita Bell Lee, Rainey Martin, Mildred Hankins Miller, Catherine Kissack Nevitt, Cabel Paterson, Zula Burnett Sanders, Ruth Shaeffer, Lannie Shane, Bill Taylor
1919 Margaret Bell, Hollie Mae Faulkner, Ruth Kennedy, Marguerite Shaner
1920 Margaret Bell, Herbert Brown, Lula Hope, Marguerite Shaner
1920 Herbert Brown, Lula Hope, Margaret Strong, Roceda Tucker (alternate source)
1921 John Allen, Lucinda Allen, Tom Arick, Thelma Bayles, Doris Chalker, Robert Duren, May Fulton, Genevieve Grelle, Pet McIntosh, H. B. Miller, Mack Nunn, Mary Lee Palmer, Gordon Petteway, James Williams, William Palmer
1922 Marshall Arick, John Law Ayres, Margueritte Clark, Mark Edwards, Jean Edwards, Mary Keathley, Liddie Law Horn, Nannie Bell Miller, Clarence Patten, Letha Patten, Mounger Russell, Katherine Schiller, Mary Snow, Margie Thompson
1923 Gladys Aldrich, Norma Burin, Willie Deloach, Allan Francis, Hugh Francis, Beatrice Franklin, Lucy Hilliard, Mardie Keathley, Keith Kissack, Alma Lanier, Mary McKowen, Miles Russell, Minnie Lou Shane, Florence Wernick
1924 Lloyd Bell, Alvin Coogler, John Law, Hugh McCall, George Rogers, Eva Lou Daniels, Irene Dormay, Nina Mims, Carrie Varn, Marjorie Varn
1925 Anna Mae Allen, Oran Ansley, Laurie Arick, Mamie Bell, Irene Blackburn, Pearl Burdin, Robert Clark, Bill Cobb Jr., Lucille Dormany, Anna Hathaway, Alfred Johnson, Carolyn Johnson, Clifford Lee, Laura Lowman, James Major, Maruice Mims, Elna Owens, Carl Schiller, Marcella White
1926 Cecil Ansley, Herman Bassett, Adrian Bell, Frank Coogler, Charles Cox, Taylor Dawson, Arthur Durshimer, Dick Foster, Tom Gary, C. C. Keathley, Alfred McKethan, Frank Saxon, John Amos Sewell, Anderson Snow, Edwin Wernlcke, Fay Amstutz, Dorothy Ayers, Grace Beaman, Mamle Coogler, Alice Evans, Mary Frazee, Edna Hilliard, Lois Lee, Mary Petteway, Nellie Webster, Ellzabeth Weeks
1927 Stacy Burroughs, Mari Gary, Eddie Hafner, Mac Hammond, James Johnston, Karl Luttrel, John McCool, Charles Srihra, Harvey Thomas, Marie Barnett, Open Beasely, Laura Chew, Margaret Durshimer, Alys Frazee, Audrey Keathley, Lucille Morgan, Mary Rauas, Margaret Robinson, Elizabeth Serrell, Katie Sheareer, Helen Posey Smith, Annie Snow, Dorothy Spear, Somona Tinley, Vivian Whittington, Laurie Arick, Maye McElroy
1928 Mary Arick, Lucille Ayers, Josephine Ayers, Christine Baxley, Deborah Cappleman, Romie Lee Daniel, Genevieve Downs, Edna Gibson, Maude Griswold, Lois Hancock, Una Pearl Hubbard, Lucille Lantis, Edna Lee, Gadsen Lowman, Elberta Priest, Nell Underwood, Ella Mae Weeks, Ruth Weeks, Floyd Cornell, Robert Dick, Jack Endsley, Walter Gittings, Basil Hutt, Quincey Morgan, Evelyn Coogler
1929 James Ayers, Verona Creekmore, John Dawson, John Elmo Gant, Bernice Hancock, Nellie Kennedy, Virgie Landrum, Erma Lee, Nina Lee, Estelle Long, Lois Lowman, Dorothy McKethan, Rollo Moyer, Donald Reeder, Daniel Rockwell, Russell Smith, Curtis Stambaugh, Rolla Truett, Birdie Varn, Leamon Varn

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