Zephyrhills Schools – 1980s


The Decade of the 1980s at ZHS

1980 | 1981 | 1982 | 1983 | 1984 | 1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989

The decade of the 1980s has sometimes been termed a time of self-focus. There were hostile takeovers in the market, and it was a time of innovation for personal pleasure with video games, camcorders and talk shows. We joined aerobics groups and became keenly aware of the devastation of AIDS.

The Berlin Wall was removed during this decade. Science and technology made real strides with the first use of personal computers in homes, schools and offices.  America’s first reusable spacecraft, the Shuttle, was launched. Sandra Day O’Connor became the first female Supreme Court justice. The country did some healing as they constructed the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial. First Lady, Nancy Reagan, began her campaign of Just Say No to drugs.

At ZHS growth continues an upward spiral. By 1986 there were 1224 students at ZHS and the faculty and staff had grown to a large group.

“Representative Ray” (the former ZHS principal), serving his second term as a State Legislator in 1986, was playing first base in the practice session in the annual Memorial Day “King of the Hill” softball game when he collapsed from a fatal heart attack. Repercussions were felt, particularly in the ZHS faculty and Zephyrhills community.

In the sports arena, the Quarterback Club changed its name to the Booster Club and was highly instrumental in the building of the school’s new activity center with gymnasium and stage combination, which opened in 1980 and hosted not only sports events but also the annual commencement. David Eiland, a 1984 grad was drafted by the University of Florida to play football—as the News reported only the second football player in the school’s history to ever sign with a major college (first being Sam Gross from the 1962 team). David quickly made his mark however on ZHS sports legendry by being drafted by the New York Yankees as a pitcher.

Last season the Yankees finished last (67-95) and I was the best pitcher in the International League,” he said while training at the ZHS facility while on hiatus.

The other stand-out in Sports for the decade was 1984 graduate, David Reutimann who continued the tradition of his family in the racing world-as a Nextel Cup Driver, a Nascar Busch driver and putting Zephyrhills in the news. In a recent appearance in Zephyrhills as of July 2007, his work and success continues:

In his first public appearance in his hometown of Zephyrhills since joining the nation’s most popular auto racing circuit fulltime in February, more than 1,000 fans came out to his father Buzzie’s auto racing shop on Wire Road to get merchandise, autographs, and their picture taken with perhaps the city’s most popular celebrity.

1980 Valedictorian, Mickey Farrell, himself the ZHS Most 1980 Valuable Boys’ Basketball Player at the onset of the decade, became a hometown hero and continued to live and be active in the Zephyrhills community. Mickey Farrell, outstanding team athlete at the ZHS 1980 Sports Banquet, is currently a member of the Tampa Sports Authority and Director of Stadium Operations at Raymond James Stadium. Farrell also finds time to teach at the University of Tampa as an adjunct professor in the Sports Administration program and served on the Super Bowl XXV Stadium Committee for the Super Bowl Task Force.

Also newsworthy in the sports accomplishments of the decade were Ken Peeples who placed tenth in the State Class 3A Cross Country Tournament. Jeanine Boyd was an outstanding girls basketball star—the second team All-State center. On January 31, 1987, the St. Pete Times said of Jeanine, “Boyd scored 21 points including the 1,000th of her high school girls basketball career, Friday in a 73-52 victory over the Hudson Cobras.” Missy Mikolajczak was a star in the volleyball, softball and basketball areas in the same year.

ZHS was a leader in the technology world with a major grant with MacIntosh Computers which was facilitated in large degree by vocational teacher, Steve Turner. Macs became the computer of choice and linger yet today in the PC world, as the ZHS tool for students to learn technology. They’ve been upgraded numerous times over since the first infiltration of MacIntosh Computers at ZHS!

ZHS was proud to now have a second “Pasco County Outstanding Seniors” during the decade-Mary Beth Kuusisto in 1983, who went on to become a commercial litigation lawyer in the city of Boston. She participated in a new curriculum innovation, the Advanced Placement Course and was the first student at ZHS to score a “5” on the AP English Exam, much to the delight of her English instructor, Gail Reynolds.

By the conclusion of the decade, rapper music was in vogue and ZHS had its own Rap artist in the form of student, Jimmy Campbell, a wide receiver on the ZHS football team. He penned some “Just Say No” messages and the following Rap for the football team:

We’re the Bulldogs, you know that’s great.

It’s about time that we went to state.

It’s the year ’89 and we’re lookin’ fine,

We always stay ahead and never fall behind.

There were other artists in the decade as well. Joey Knight, President of the 1986 class, reminisced in his graduation speech in an eloquent fashion about the meaning of high school. Joey was to become a Sports writer for the Tampa Tribune and cover the Gators for many years and the speech gives hint of his career to come:

Our high school years are filled with innumerable lasting recollections of pain and pleasure, victory and defeat, longsuffering and sweet endurance. Some memories will stay in our minds forever, while others we hope will leave the depths of our innermost thoughts for eternity. We will love to flashback on such memorable events as the Homecoming football game, the high-spirited pep-rallies, the prom and other various traditions of high school which are meant to be remembered forever.

ZHS sponsored a spectacular “Sound of Music” production to commemorate the city’s 73rd birthday at Founders Day. English teacher, Phil Sinagulia, attended to every detail of the play, and it was reminiscent of the early community-attended plays in the first few decades of the school. Art was also flourishing under art teacher, Debra Gillars, who coordinated events and displayed student art throughout the school. Awards in the 1985 Congressional Art Competition for artist, Robert Searight, was just one example. Students left their mark in Ms. Gillars room as senior art students created personal ceiling tiles of their logos, interests and self portraits. Thus the “Me” decade was stamped in ZHS history and the decade of the 1990s was launched!

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