Zephyrhills High School – 1931


Highlights of 1931

Schools Open To Increased Enrollment, Zephyrhills News, August 7, 1931

Representative, Citizens Assist Principal Walker In Opening Exercises

The Zephyrhills schools opened Monday morning, September 28, with a larger enrollment than last year. The opening was attended by the usual exercises, in which teachers, pupils, parents, members of the board of trustees, and other representative citizens took part.

J.W. Walker, principal of the high school, had charge of the exercises, which were opened with the singing of “America” by the Assembly, followed by Scripture reading and prayer by Mr. Walker.

Mrs. B.E. Alsobrook, member of the Board of Trustees, welcomed the faculty and asked for the cooperation of the entire town in making this the best year in the history of the Zephyrhills schools.

Mrs. E.D. Arnot, president of the Parent-Teacher Association, gave a very pleasing talk, inviting all teachers and parents to join the Parent-Teacher Association and strengthen the “bridge” between the home and the school.

The teachers for the year are: High School—Mr. J. W. Walker, Principal; Mrs. Annie Gill; Mrs. Josephine Tucker and Miss Alpha Sechler

Grade School: Mr. D.C. Cripe, Principal; Mrs. Anna Guy, Eighth; Mrs. James Ina Corbin, Seventh; Miss Francis Berry, Sixth; Miss Bertha Messick, Fifth; Miss Lillian Kirkland, Fourth; Miss Mary Lee Alsobrook, Third; Miss Esther Plank, Second and Mrs. D.C. Cripe, first.

The enrollment was 205 pupils in the grammar school and fifty in the high school.

School Opening Date Postponed To September 28, Zephyrhills News, August 7, 1931

The date of opening of most of the schools in Pasco County has been postponed from August 31 to September 28, by the board of public instruction of Pasco County, at a special meeting held July 27. Certain schools that can be financed from special funds may open on August 31, among these being Crystal Springs, San Antonio, Darby, Ehren, Drexel, Fivay and Myrtle.

Schools Close with Graduation Programs, Zephyrhills News, May 29, 1931

Judge Petteway, in address, puts happiness above money; Professor Walker Awards Diplomas.

The Zephyrhills high school and graduated school closed last week with graduation exercises for the Eighth grade Thursday evening in the High School auditorium and with graduation exercises for the Senior class of the high school Friday evening, in the same auditorium.

Both exercises were attended by large and interested audiences of school pupils and their parents and citizens generally, and both evidently impressed with the importance of the work being done in the local schools.

The highlight of the high school commencement Friday night aside from the actual graduation of the class, was the address by Judge W. Raleigh Petteway of Tampa, who is recognized as one of the outstanding orators of the state. The theme of Judge Petteway’s address was that the American people are given too much to the pursuit of money. He showed the importance in life of other things besides money, and urged his hearers to seek happiness, rather than more riches. In this connection, he stressed the importance of education and culture as a means of happiness.

In his presentation of diplomas to the class, Professor J.W. Walker, principal, took occasion to mention the importance of proper school equipment and to urge continued effort toward supplying this need. He praised the school spirit that is so noticeable among Zephyrhills people and briefly cited some of the equipment that has been added to the school during the last year, among which are two globes and hangers for five rooms, 116 supplementary readers (seven sets), and 200 library books, one hundred of the books having been given to the high school by the Zephyrhills Library Association and by individuals, and the others being bought with money raised by the pupils themselves, by means of entertainments and otherwise.

The graduating Seniors receiving diplomas were: Misses Ruth Bracey, Florence Brooks, and Elsie Parker; and Messrs. Vernon Gall, Edward Haworth, John Kunze, Rollin Plank, Z.T. Roberts and Francis Sibley.

Miss Florence Brooks won first honors in class standing (Valedictorian) and Miss Ruth Bracey, second honors (Salutatorian) and Miss Elsie Parker was third.

The program of the evening was as follows:


Invocation—Reverend E.L. Wesson

Solo—Mrs. F.A. Saum

Address-Judge W. Raleigh Petteway

Awarding Diplomas—Professor J.W. Walker, Principal

Benediction—Reverend E.L. Wesson


Eight Grade Graduation

At the Eighth grade commencement exercises Thursday evening a class of seven girls and six boys, under Mrs. Anna Guy, as principal, was graduated into the high school. Those receiving diplomas were: Misses Maudell Arnold, Annice Cripe, Delma Harrell, Elsie Hill, Sarah Parsons, Francis Vogel, and Eva West and Messrs. Robert Cook, Louis Gall, Ernest Linksey, Donald Plank, Emil Reutimann, and Athel Thomas. Two other members of the class—Miss Ruth Higginson and Richard Williford—had been absent during the latter part of the year on account of sickness or other causes, and were not included among those receiving diplomas, but may make up the work later.

The program was as follows:

Class Song-Class

Class Introduction—Louis Gall

Class 8th Grade Salutatory—Sarah Parsons

“Our Vindication for Commencement”—Francis Vogel

Reading, “Vacation”—Robert Cook

Song, “Vacation”—Class Boys

Reading-“Day Dreaming” –Delma Harrell

Reading, “My Graduation” Essay—Maudell Arnold

Class History—Elsie Hill

Song, “The Last Days of School”—Three Girls

The Key Oration—Ernest Linkey

Response—Robert Seaberg, 7th Grader

Class Prophecy—Donald Plank

“A Gift to the Graduates”—Margurite Reutimann

Song, “The Dearest Class”—Class

Presentation Speech—Eva West

8th Grade Valedictory—Annice Cripe


Presentation of Diplomas—Professor J.W. Walker, Principal

One More Student in Senior Class, Zephyrhills News, May 22, 1931

In the article dealing with Commencement week of the Zephyrhills school, the name of Francis Sibley was accidentally omitted from the list of high school graduates, and the number in the graduating class is eight, instead of nine. The mistake is, of course, regretted.

The Senior Class Graduates Tonight, Zephyrhills News, May 22, 1931

Graduation exercises of the Senior Class of Zephyrhills high school will take place tonight (Friday) in the High School auditorium, at which a class of six boys and three girls will receive diplomas at the hands of Professor J.W. Walker.  The Commencement address will be by Judge W. Raleigh Petteway of Tampa

Zephyrhills Student Wins New Honors, Zephyrhills News, May 22, 1931

Rice Institute Grants A Scholarship to Cyril Cockrell in Germany

Cyril E. Cockerell who is taking post-graduate work in the University of Danzig and the University of Munich, Germany on a one-year scholarship won while attending Rollins College in Winter Park, has recently been awarded another scholarship in this country, and after finishing the year’s work at the two German universities is planning to return to this country to continue his post-graduate work.

The information is contained in a letter from him to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. J.R. Cockrell, who live two miles west of Zephyrhills.

The new scholarship was conferred upon him by Rice Institute of Houston, Texas. It covers all expenses of the college course for the year and provides $75 monthly additional for the ten months of the college year. The scholarship it is said was granted on recommendation of faculty of Rollins College.

Almost simultaneously with information of the granting of the scholarship, Mr. Cockrell received a cablegram from the University of Louisiana at Baton Rouge, offering a scholarship at that institution. He chose the Texas institution, however as the field of his next year’s work.

Before taking his course at Rollins College, Mr. Cockrell had graduated from Zephyrhills High School. He has two married sister who are graduates of universities or colleges in Ohio, and the other one on the east coast of Florida.

Zephyrhills To Play Lake Jovita Next Sunday, Zephyrhills News, May 15, 1931

The Zephyrhills baseball team will play the Lake Jovita nine at Lake Jovita on Sunday, May 17.

The home team has been inactive for the last two weeks, but from now on the locals will try to have a game each week. They expect to defeat their opponents next Sunday, but not by a big score. For they have considerable respect for the playing of the Lake Jovita team, which has a good record for this year. It is expected that the coming game will be one which will long be remembered in the history of baseball in the county.

The Zephyrhills team this year is to be one of the best the city has had in three or four years. The leading pitchers, Gardner and Overstreet, are both pitching a good game, and their support is improving.

The proposed lineup for Zephyrhills is as follows: R. McDowell, e; W. Garner, p; C. Smith, 1 b; O. McDowell, 2 b; L. Overstreet, s.s.; M. Thomas, S. b.; C. Geiger, r.f.; J.McDowell, e.f.; L. Cooper, l.f.

School Caucus Nominates Two Candidates, Zephyrhills News, May 15, 1931

A caucus of residents of Zephyrhills special school district was held Tuesday night, May 12, for the purpose of placing in nomination additional candidates for the offices of trustees, to be filled by the school election to be held in this district, Saturday, May 16.

Candidates nominated were James Geiger, Will Ryals, and J.H. Mott. Mr. Mott declined the nomination on account of business reasons, stating that he would be unable to give the time and attention that the office required. It was understood that both Mr. Geiger and Mr. Ryals would accept the nomination and would serve if elected.

The caucus called attention to the fact that the school election takes place this week (Saturday) and that it is a duty of those qualified to vote to go to the polls on that day and vote.

Commencement Week Program Begins Tonight, Zephyrhills News, May 15, 1931

Class of Eight to Receive Diplomas At Exercise Friday, May 22.

A class of eight will be graduated from the Zephyrhills high school at the commencement exercise to be held in the High School auditorium on Friday, May 22 at 8 p.m.

The commencement exercise will conclude the program for commencement work, which begins tonight, May 15 with Senior class exercises at the High School and is continued Sunday with baccalaureate services at the Baptist church at the regular morning service hour.

The students comprising the graduating class of 1931 are: Ruth Bracey, Florence Brooks, Rollin Plank, Edward Haworth, Vernon Gall, John Kunze, and Z.T. Roberts.

The program for the graduating exercise in the High School auditorium at 8 p.m., May 22 is as follows:


Invocation—Reverend G.E. Bennett

Solo—Mrs. F. A. Saum

Address—Judge W. Raleigh Petteway

Awarding of Diplomas—J.W. Walker

Benediction—Reverend E.L. Wesson


Class Night:

Senior class night will be on Friday, May 15, the program will be as follows:


Welcome song—class

Class History—Florence Brooks

Class Poem—Rollin Plank


Class Prophecy—Vernon Gall

Vocal—Elsie Parker

Class Will—Z.T. Roberts

Farewell Song—Class


Party to Honor Class Sponsor, Zephyrhills News, May 8, 1931

A party in honor of Miss Ivan Shockney is being arranged by the Senior Class of Zephyrhills high school to be held on Friday night, May 8 at Sunset Beach, to which all high school pupils are invited. Miss Shockney is sponsor of the Senior Class.

Baseball Team Begins Active Season, Zephyrhills News, April 10, 1931

Will Play Williston At Inverness On April 12th.

The Zephyrhills baseball team motored to Dade City on March 29th to play the Dade City team and lost its opening game of the baseball season by a score of 7 to 5.

The local boys, having had no practice this season, put up a good fight during the first part of the game, but the Dade City team seemed to be getting better as the home players were beginning to tire. The game was a slow one according to the players themselves and numerous errors were made on both sides—in fact, it may be said to have been a practice game for both teams, as neither one has played enough to get into the stride this season. The local boys are expecting to show some improvement in form for the next game

To Play Williston-The Zephyrhills baseball team will play the Williston team at Inverness in Citrus county next Sunday, April 12; the game being scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m. This will be the first game the local boys have ever played with Williston, so they are meeting an untried rival. Inverness has had a strong team in years past, which has defeated the Zephyrhills team, and the fans there are expected to take a lively interest in the meeting of the two outside teams in their city. The Zephyrhills players will leave about 12:30 or 1 o’clock in several motor cars, and they may be attended by some of the local fans in other cars.

Sophomores Enjoy Outing At Beach, Zephyrhills News, February 6, 1931

The Sophomore class party held last Friday evening at Sunset park was an event that was enjoyed by more than a score of young people. The chief piece-de-resistance was sandwiches and punch, after which a dance was enjoyed. Those attending were: Messrs. Kenneth Peck, Frank Rys, Roger Sibley, Vance Forbes, George Taylor, Robert Gall, Fred Gill, Owen Gall, Emerson Snider, Robert Williams, Roland Park and Marshall Corbin and Misses Jean Sante, Lillian Skogstad, Ferne Williams, Lina Felts, Grace Lester, Willie Rothammer, Vera Slater, Winnie Wingate, Grace Mott, Edith Mott and Mr. D.C. Cripe, the class sponsor.

Entertains Seventh and Eighth Graders, Zephyrhills News, January 9, 1931

Mrs. Vogel entertained the seventh and eighth grades and their teacher, Mrs. Guy to a New Year’s picnic for her daughter, Frances, at her home north of the city.

Games, basketball, football and contests were greatly enjoyed by the following: Alberta Corbin, Isabelle Austin, Rita Spellman, Helen Grant, Ruth McCoy, Margarite Reutimann, Eva West, Dorothy Boyer, Ruth Higginson, Delma Harrell, Pearl Baldwin, Elma Ryals, Mary Spellman, Sarah Parsons, Anlee Cripe, Laura Rogers, Audrey Fulgham of Tampa and Frances Vogel.

Ernest Linkey, Horace Williford, Emil Reutimann, Donald Plank, Glenn McDowell, James Mott, Athel Thomas, Robert Seaberg, Clifford Wilson, Reggie Clark, Robert Cook, Jack Parsons, Richard Gaskins and Louis Gall. The hostess was assisted by Mrs. Claude Cook, Mrs. Ed Seaberg, Mrs. J.T. Fulgham and Miss Edith Parrish of Tampa

5th Grade Honor Roll

Those pupils of the Fifth Grade all of whose grades for the month were above 90 percent were: Mary Travis, Louise Arnot, Mary Elizabeth Stapleton, Stephen Valla, Carl Parsons and Everett Stokes.

Schools Close Two Weeks or More As Precaution, Zephyrhills News, November 27, 1931

The Thanksgiving vacation that the Zephyrhills schools were to enjoy from Wednesday until next Monday, November 23 to November 30, may  be still further extended by the Zephyrhills school trustees and the county board of public instruction, on account of the diphtheria menace that is felt to exist.

Other cases of the disease are said to have developed in the family at Richland in which a death occurred last week, and another case, diagnosed as diphtheria, developed within the city Monday morning of this week. The case is said to be a very mild one’ but it was deemed advisable to take every precaution, and so the family was quarantined, and school suspended.

It is, of course, hoped that no other cases will develop and that the youthful patients will speedily recover, but until they are out of danger, and until a sufficient time has elapsed to make it pretty certain that no other cases are going to develop from possible exposure at the same time these patients were exposed, quite strict regulations as to schools and quarantine measurer may be enforced.

These precautionary measures were taken by the local school and city officials and local physicians, without waiting for orders or instructions from the Florida State Health officials.

On Tuesday, however, Dr. A.C. Hamblin of the State Board of Health arrived in the city and took charge of the situation. He endorsed what had already been done and advised that schools be closed for at least two weeks and that church services be suspended during that time, the closing program to be extended if found advisable.

It will be his task, he said to locate the carriers of the disease and stop further contagion. He will be at the High School building next Monday, November 30, to give tests and administer preventive treatment to school children. The treatment is furnished free by the State to those not able to pay for it.

Dr. Hamblin’s instructions to parents and children are to come, if possible, in cars and to remain in their cars, parked in the street, until the doctor or his assistant instructs the child to come into the building. If there are several cars of children waiting at one time, it will be better for new arrivals to drive away for a while and to come later, the idea being to avoid anything in the nature of a crowd either inside or outside the building.

Local School Appreciates Book Gifts, Zephyrhills News, October 30, 1931

Individuals and County Board are Thanked; High School Enrollment Up.

A report from Professor J.W. Walker, supervising principal of the Zephyrhills school, indicates that the school library has recently been enriched by a number of valuable volumes and that the school is having increased attendance this year. The report follows:

“Special interest in the school has been expressed by Mrs. Rutherford, Mrs. N.L. Wright, and Mr. C.H. Johnson in the gift of valuable books, and the school wishes to thank these people for their benevolent attitude and loyal support. Many books have been given to us in the last three years, for which we are very grateful. A school without books would be greatly handicapped.

“The County Board of Public Instruction through the efforts of Mr. Tucker has placed upon our shelves a brand-new set of the World Book Encyclopedia of 22 volumes. This is a much needed addition to our reference library. We thank you, Mr. Tucker.

“The school will be closed on Friday of this week on account of the teachers’ meeting to be held at Brooksville on Friday and Saturday.

“We have had one month of school. The enrollment in the high school is about ten percent above this time last year. The attendance has been good, and the work of a very satisfactory quality.”

Schools Open Again After A Vacation, Zephyrhills News, December 4, 1931

Board Authorizes Reopening; Diphtheria Danger Appearing To Be Over.

Zephyrhills schools resumed regular business Wednesday morning, after a week’s vacation over Thanksgiving, the vacation being prolonged three days longer than first anticipated by reason of uncertainty as to danger from diphtheria.

When a death from diphtheria occurred near Richland, and when other school children in the same family developed the disease, the Zephyrhills school board took prompt steps to close the schools here and to advise the Florida State Board of Health as to the situation. Dr. A.C. Hamblin of The State Board was here last week, looked over the situation, gave advise, administered treatment to numerous school children, expressed approval of what had been done by the school officials and left it to the School Trustee, J.W. Kerr as to when school should be resumed. He was expected to return to Zephyrhills Monday, but as he did not do so, and as there appeared to be no cases of the disease developing her, Mr. Kerr issued notices Tuesday that school would resume the next day.

The one case within the city that was diagnosed with diphtheria was so mild that the patient was said to be scarcely ill, and recovery was very rapid. The children in the family in the country who had the disease are said to be almost recovered. No other cases developed.

As a further precaution, all school rooms were disinfected the early part of the week.

Zephyrhills Boy Becomes Young Genius, Zephyrhills News, October 9, 1931

Musician, Composer, Orchestra Leader, Electrician, Educator, All at age 26.

Many Zephyrhills folks who were residents here during the World War and year following the signing of the Armistice will recall memories of a boy in his early teens, a small lad on the street with a home-made, shoe-shining outfit of soap-box construction, soliciting shines while many of the boys of his age were swimming, playing and having a good time generally while being financed by “Dad” and “Mother.” At other times this boy set type and acted as “devil” in the printing office of the Zephyrhills Colonist Newspaper, then conducted by the late George H. Gibson, mayor of Zephyrhills.

The boy of that period is now John Thomas Oakes, musician, compositor and educator, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who is regarded by many who know him as a genius.

The following account of the activities, in part, of John Thomas Oakes since he left Zephyrhills in 1919, at the age of 14 years, is given by a close friend who has kept in touch with him during the intervening years:

From Zephyrhills young Oakes went to Chicago to enter the Coyne Electrical School, from which he graduated in due time. Not satisfied with this for a finished education he decided to join the United States Navy; advanced his age sufficiently for that purpose and enlisted for the two-year service term then allowed. Soon he was offered a cadetship at Annapolis but declined.

Upon leaving the navy, he returned West to Wisconsin where he worked his way through high school and graduated. Later he worked his way through Chicago School of Music, from which he also graduated. He was earning $225.00 a month, directing orchestras and writing his own music when the introduction of sound pictures wrecked instrumental paying as a paying profession there. He is a brilliant composer, having finished harmony and advanced technique of music. He is an expert player on tenor banjo, saxophone, Sousaphone, bass viol, piano and other instruments.

At the age of 22, instead of having landed in the penitentiary as some pessimists of this place are said to have predicted, hw was entering his first year college year at Teacher’s College, Milwaukee through which he worked his way and graduated with distinguished honors on June 9, 1931.

During his last semester there he substituted as musical instructor at Girls’ Senior and Boys’ Senior high schools of Milwaukee having the distinction of being the second student ever to be accorded that responsibility and honor in the history of the city of Milwaukee. He carried other work also but music was the chief subject.

He finished college having averaged around 98% percent for the four year’s course, during which he had worked his own way. He was elected to the Honor Ten of his college and was one of six to be chosen as an honorary member of the National Honor fraternity, Kappa Delta Pi. By the Board of Education of the city of Milwaukee, on his own reconnaissance, he was awarded a permanent position for the coming school year on the faculty.

Musician and other geniuses usually are not expected to have much financial ability, but Tom Oakes, after financing himself through electrical school, high school and school of music, had enough it is said, when he entered college to pay two week’s board in advance.

Graduate Classes of Zephyrhills High Hold Social, Zephyrhills News, January 9, 1931

The graduating classes of the Zephyrhills High School for the years 1928, 1929 and 1930 with a few invited guests enjoyed a social at Sunset Beach on Lake Pasadena the evening of January 1st.

The merry-makers began to gather at 8 o’clock and continued to arrive until 9. Uncle Frank Tousey, the genial proprietor and manager of Sunset Beach was at the door to welcome each arrival with his smiles and best wishes for the New Year.

Music for the occasion was furnished by the radio and Uncle Frank’s famous one-man band. Pool-golf claimed the attending of a few while others played bridge and many were dancing.

Uncle Frank started the game by callin’ Paul Jones which led to many others. The Misses Planks had a good supply of real fun-makers which kept the young folks busy for a long time.

Refreshments of sandwiches—all kinds—cake and hot chocolate were served.

A business meeting was held for the purpose of electing and making plans for a meeting next year. Those elected were: President Arthur Austin; Vice President, Miss Tillie Reutimann; Recording Secretary, Miss Edith Plank; Corresponding Secretary, Miss Sadie Turner; Treasurer, Charlie Slater. An assessment of twenty-five cents was made on the members to defray the expense of the secretary. The matter of forming a loan fund for those who were unable to go to college was discussed, but no definite action was taken.

Those present of the different classes were: 1930 class—Sadie Turner, Althia Guy, Cecil McGavern, Charlie Slater, Owen Gall and Fred Gill; 1929 class—Celia Linkey, Angie LeHeup, John Pennington, John Loomis, Robert Sibley, and Arthur Austin; 1928 class—Edith Plank, Tillie Reutimann, Lucile McGavern, Robert Campbell, James Campbell, Nelson Nabor, Clarence Darby and Bob Gill.

Guests were: Mrs. Fred Gill, Mr. and Mrs. Clifton Craig, Miss Esther Plank, A.N. Black of New Port Richey and Sam McGavern.

Young Folks In Motor Car Crash Escape, Zephyrhills News, July 3, 1931

Sibley Coupe Strikes A Parked Car and Turns Over and Around.

Starting out of Zephyrhills for Dade City shortly after dark on Wednesday night a party of six Zephyrhills young people in Robert Sibley’s coupe crashed into Vance Forbes’ car parked in front of the Harold Skogstad home badly damaging both cars, and giving the young people a terrible fright and shake-up, but not seriously injuring any of them.

In the coupe were Robert Sibley, driver; and Marshall Corbin, Miss Edith Mott and Miss Althea Guy, and seated outside on the front fenders were Robert Gall and Robert Gill. A party was in progress at the Skogstad home and Mr. Forbes car with several others, was parked in front, about two feet off the highway, it is said. The driver saw the parked car as he approached it, he stated afterward, it is said, but took his eye off the road for a moment and the crash occurred.

The coupe, with its load of six young people, turned completely over and around after tearing the fenders and running board off one side of the parked car. All of the six young folks miraculously escaped with only slight bruises and cuts.

Alumni and Friends Reunion Is Moved to City Auditorium, Zephyrhills News, June 11, 1981

Plans for the “biggest and best” Zephyrhills High School Alumni and Friends Reunion are coming right along reports 1981 President Donnie Nelson who is being assisted by his wife, Sharon Forbes Nelson, 1980 treasurer, his sister, Margaret Nelson Cherry, 1981 treasurer and Betty Jo Turner Hyder, 1980 secretary.

…This year the two classes to be especially recognized will be the Golden 50th Anniversary Class of 1931….

Data on Class of 1931

Checking around with some of the Zephyrhillsans of today who attended ZHS in the late 20s and early 30’s, we have come up with the following as members of the Class of 1931 at ZHS: Margaret Phillips, Elsie Parker, Ruth Bracey, Florence Brooks, Francis Sibley, John Kumze, Z.T. Roberts, Eddie Howarth, Vernon Gall and Rolin Flank.

Happy Memories Abound As ZHS Alumni Enjoy Reunion, Zephyrhills News, July 2, 1981, by Jaynell LeHeup

Honored Class-The 50th anniversary class of 1931 honored Sunday was represented by one member, Rollin Plank, Crawfordsville. The 25th anniversary class of 1956 was represented only by a husband and wife team, Mr. and Mrs. Don Whitworth. Mrs. Whitworth being the former Nancy Lee.  He (Whitworth) was later elected as the Reunion President for the coming year.

Special recognition was also given to eight members of the Class of 1946 and nine members of the Class of 1951 present.

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