A hundred-year legacy

A hundred-year legacy
  • By MARY BAILEY The Reporter

The Boaz Legacy Museum held the 100-year anniversary celebration of the old Boaz Elementary School on Sparks Ave Thursday afternoon and dozens of former students from the school came to reminisce of days gone by.

Boarded up windows and caution tape surround the old school, but so many had memories flood back as they were able to walk inside the front foyer of the building and see old photos of staff, school rooms and books that were from the 1920s.

According to Wayne Hunt and the History of Boaz social media page, in 1903 the city built a two-story wood frame building for public school attendance. In 1923, this building burned, and the county system (at the time) elected to build a new more modern building at the same location.

Not completely finished by the start of school 1924, students began classes in the new building. For the first time many students had indoor plumbing in school.

The new building cost $35,000. The building was considered very modern with electricity and running water with toilets. Mr. S. O. McPherson was the principal and Mr. Soloman Shockley was the janitor. Until 1935 the school housed first through eleventh grades.

Hunt, who is the Chairman of the Board of the Boaz Legacy Museum, welcomed everyone who came to the celebration and shared their memories of their time at the school.

“This is an event of the museum, and I am so glad to be able to do this. It really is an honor to be able to do this. It is an old building, historic building here in town and many of us have some type of connection to this building. We were either went to school here, we taught here, or we went to school here and we taught here,” he laughed. “But we are very grateful to be able to do this and be here today. We are even more grateful to be able to even open the building up and go inside.”

Boaz Mayor David Dyar who said the opening prayer was in attendance as well as former Boaz Mayor, Bruce Sanford.

“I just want to thank everyone for being here, I really believe this is a reflection of our community and it’s awesome to stand behind this podium and be the mayor and see all these faces here,” Mayor Dyar said to the crowd.

Dr. Todd Haney, Superintendent of Boaz City Schools Systems was also present during the event.

“It is a pleasure to be here and come in and look at this part of history. Especially for the schools of Boaz, we weren’t Boaz City Schools during this time, but it is part of the legacy that we have that continues,” Dr. Haney said.

“From the school district standpoint, we just finished up a very successful school year. We are looking forward to the summer, I know the kids are, the adults are too. We have a lot still going on with summer camps, we have a literacy camp and a math camp. We will still have a lot of students on campus right now. For the students doing extracurricular activities for the fall, they will start practicing in the next week or so, so the campus will be buzzing. We have a lot of really good things that are going on in the school district as far as capital improvements are concerned. We probably have one of the nicest tennis facilities in the state now. We have never had a competition track before in Boaz and we are excited about that because we have about 100 students or so that love to run and run track during the spring. Just know that the schools, the teachers, the students do a fantastic job, and we are just blessed. I know I’m blessed to be a part of the Boaz City Schools and I hope that you all are proud of our schools as well.”

Former Boaz Mayor Bruce Sanford also spoke of what the school system was doing during his time as Mayor.

“My first memory of this school, I was in second or third grade. These yards they were just like my grandmother’s yards, when you could use a brush broom and just sweep them. I came over with my dad one day and I don’t know if it’s the same tree that’s right over there but my dad was raking top soil trying to get grass to grow on this yard,” Sanford said.

“That was my first memory and I think that caused me to want to give back and do service work for our community. It was watching my dad, watch him contribute to our town. That’s one thing that still stands out in my mind. Dr. Haney, it says a lot about the citizens of Boaz when the citizens decide to ante up and tax themselves for the school system. The citizens contribute and they want to see results and I commend the administration for providing that leadership.”

Many former students of Boaz Elementary spoke during the event and recalled their memories from inside the school, including water troughs, the tall slide in the playground and making copies of school papers until they received books for learning.

Biggest group present was the Class of 1960.

Wayne Gore, who attended 5th grade at Boaz Elementary School in 1939 was the oldest former student, at 96 years old.

Gore saw a picture of a school bus from 1934 and remembered riding the bus to school and that G.C. Butler had built it.

Pictures of the school, yearbooks and other memorabilia that were present at the event can be found inside the Boaz Legacy Museum.

The museum is open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

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