Central High School, 1915-1919

CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL fall 1915-spring 1919 was a coeducational, public school housed in the old MOONEY School Building on East Main Street. The school is listed by name as CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL in the Biennial Report of Schools of Tennessee 1915-1916. A two-year high school, it became a four-year high school in 1918 when Mr. J. C. Mitchell came to Murfreesboro as City Superintendent of Schools.

Known principals were M. Smith in 1915 and Horace Jones in 1916-1919.

Among the teachers were: in 1915, Mrs. Smith, Miss Little, and Mr. Fuqua; in 1916-1919, Miss Little, home economics, Anna Clark, English, Mr. Blair, chemistry, Mr. Bruner, mathematics, Lucy Alexander, Mrs. Lester Dann, Mr. Spears, and L. W. Currier, coach.

Students remembered, who are not mentioned elsewhere, are Willie Miller girl, Mattie Becton, Harold Earthman, Henry Clay Alexander, Beverly Randolph, Warren Taylor, Louise McKnight, Arthur Reed, Marjorie Clark, Hannah Graham, Shelton Harris, Jack Todd, Burns McNabb, Henry Jordan, Albert King, Robert Huddleston, David Lapsley, Irby Epps, William Ridley, Herbert Moore.

Students who finished the two-year high school and wished to continue their education, went to the high school department of the MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE NORMAL SCHOOL for their last two years.

Mary Price Snell, a student for only one year, 1915-1916, recalls her first and last attendance at a football game. When the third player, whom she knew as a classmate, was injured and carried off the field, she turned her head and resolved never to watch a football game again. The colors of the school at that time were gold, purple, and green.

Mr. Mitchell, superintendent in 1918-1919, allowed the students to select a name for their four-year high school. The name chosen was again CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL. Aaron Todd, a football and baseball player, and John Woodfin, manager, were influential in naming the athletic teams the “Tigers” and in choosing black and gold for the school colors.

Katherine Brugger McKnight, who attended CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL her sophomore year and then in 1917-1918 attended NORMAL for her junior year, returned to the new four-year high school in 1918-1919.

There were four seniors registered in the class: Elizabeth Brigham, who returned to the college for further work; Frances Lillard, who dropped out of school to marry; Mary Yearwood Harris, who became ill during the influenza epidemic and did not return; and Katherine Brugger McKnight, who became the first and only graduate of CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL in the spring of 1919.

At the graduation exercises, Mr. Mitchell presided; R. L. Jones, president of MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE NORMAL SCHOOL, was the speaker; Katherine Brugger played a piano solo and delivered the valedictory address entitled “Woman’s Work in World War I”; and R. L. Jones gave out the one diploma. Except for Katherine’s grandmother and a few close friends, the audience was, according to Katherine, a “captive one” consisting of all the students of
the school from the seventh grade up.

Katherine Brugger also remembers her participation in the Edith Cavell Literary Society and her trips to the college to perform chemistry experiments in the college laboratory.

Another student organization in 1918-1919 was the Military Company with officers Jesse Beesley, Sr., lieutenant; Aaron Todd, lieutenant; Warner Hooper, sergeant; Doran McKniqht, sergeant; and Jack Todd, guide sergeant. Mr. R. M. Blair, who was not the chemistry teacher, was commandant.

On September 2, 1919, CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL opened in a new brick building on North Maple Street.

SOURCES: Tennessee. Department of Public Instruction. Biennial Report of Schools of Tennessee 1915-1916. 1916, p. 112. “Announcement Central High School of Rutherford County” 1919-1920 . “Central High School Began with 16 Rooms; Now Has 70,” The Daily News Journal, September 13, 1963, p. 22. Interview, July 19, 1985, with Katherine Brugger McKnight, b. April 4, 1901. *Mary Price Snell, student in 1915, who roomed with Mrs. Alf Brandon’s mother and worked at Betty Ferrell’s boarding house. *Catherine Clark.

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