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Pompano High School
 by Bud Garner, Class of ‘48


The town of Pompano was incorporated in 1908.  As early as 1899 a one-room schoolhouse had been established in the Pompano area , but as population increased the need for educational facilities was answered in 1916 with the building of a grammar school (through sixth grade) on NE 4th Street.  Junior and senior high school students attended Ft. Lauderdale’s Central High until Pompano added to the grammar school and a local high school was established.

 S.C. Fox was the first Principal hired for this facility. The first class to graduate was in 1928, there were twelve graduating seniors that year and as of 2001, two of these graduates are still living. They are Myrtle Darsey Ritter (valedictorian) and Gretchen Raines Robertson. The 1929 graduating class numbered twelve members of which there are also two still living The following years saw a slow but steady increase in students and that number continued to grow along with additional buildings constructed on NE 6th Street that was used for grammar, as well as junior and senior high classes.  

All students attended classes in both buildings. After completing the 12th grade you had attended classes in the same building you started first grade in, plus the two story building fronting on NE 4th Street.  I remember very clearly my first day at school in 1933, the first grade class of Miss Hattie Banks. Her room was on the ground floor at the east end of the building on 6th Street.   Our classroom had wood floors and a cloakroom at one end. This cloakroom was to be my "escape route" later on."

We had a playhouse in the middle of the classroom plus tables that were used for activities, and if you were "good" you might even get to play with the "modeling clay." I ever got to use the clay, although my better-behaved classmates did so almost every day. This is not to say I was always bad, but my first day at school was a disaster. My mother drove me to school that day, deposited me in my class and left. Believe it or not, I beat her back home and was waiting for her when she drove up. I informed her I didn't like school and I wasn't going back. That was the second mistake I made that day. After she “tanned my hide," she put me in the car and back to school we went. I waited until she had time to leave the school and I scooted into the cloakroom again, out the door and down the front of the building. I ducked down in order to pass under the windows of the Principal's office and again nearly got home before my mother the second time. I guess I wasn't the smartest kid in the class, but I did learn some lessons. After we repeated the procedure, I just didn't run right home. 

 So school went on, second grade teacher, Miss Gillis, and on through third grade, Miss McQueen, and Miss Gladdin and Miss Kelly.  Keep in mind that we were in "Grammar School," and the dividing line arrived when you passed from the 6th grade to the 7th grade. Then you were in "High" school, (now you got to change classes every hour.)  All grades above 6th shared classrooms in both buildings. We in grammar school had to be extra cautious because we had to avoid the grammar school bullies plus dodge the "big boys" (and girls) in high school.  I think I began to understand how "baitfish" in the ocean must feel -- something always chasing after you. Mr. Baer was the truant officer. He was responsible for the entire county, consequentially we never had to deal with him -- he had too much ground to cover.

The first attempts at publishing a school paper was sometime in the early years and there surfaced a copy of some of these papers about a year and a half ago. The name of that publication was Sea Spray and it eventually gave way to the publication in later years of the school paper, The Oracle. The first attempts at publishing a year book was undertaken by the Photographic Club and all the material was type written and the pictures taken by and incorporated in a folder-type manuscript. The first published annual was in 1942 and it was the first one to have the name The Beanpicker.

 Basketball and football were the major school sports in the formative years. The teams were also known as Beanpickers.  Schedules were hard to make because of the number of boys that were interested in playing and had the means of transportation to games that were, out of necessity, played during daylight hours and in close proximity to the town of Pompano.

Pompano had its first-ever undefeated football season in 1941. It was marred by one tie game with Eau-Gallie. Pompano played 6-man football, which was popular in these times because of small schools and limited players. The year 1944 saw another undefeated, untied football season and at this time it was 11-man football and playing larger and stronger schools. Pompano fielded many good basketball teams, including the 1946 team that won the state championship.  Later, the 1963 team also brought home the championship trophy.

 The year, 1942 saw thirty three former Beanpickers serving in the armed forces of the United States with many more to follow before hostilities ceased in 1945. Six former Beanpickers died in World War II; three of whom were members of the undefeated football team. Eleven boys returned from military service to enroll and graduate from Pompano High School.

Pompano High School had many good teachers, men and women. Early on, the Broward County School board would not hire a married female teacher. Many reasons were given for this policy; the most prevailing one was the possibility of a teacher having to go on maternity leave (a term that was not even coined at that time.) Eventually, as class sizes grew and public opinion changed, this policy was revoked and today would be classified as archaic and illegal to say the least. Teachers were paid a minimum salary of $1750 per year and a maximum salary of $2000. This was for a ten-month period beginning in August and culminating in June. Only one year contracts were given.  

 Year round school, “the Fox Plan,” was discussed and rejected even back then as unfeasible. It is still  being reviewed today as a means of overcoming problems that have plagued school boards since day one. The face of Pompano Beach High School (changed from Pompano High in 1947 after merging with the Beach.) expanded, with a new facility being constructed further east on NE 6th Street.  Many new and exciting things happened after the move, including a new football field and better stands, and a new gymnasium. Then, in 1958 a name-change for the school; no longer were they called Beanpickers, now they were the Golden Tornadoes. The school was at last coming into its own with a full range of offered courses, sports, civic organizations and clubs.

 Pompano Beach High School was closed in 1985, but has once again been re-opened as a high school with the same name. The Pompano traditions have remained strong, especially among the Beanpickers, who have banded together, published a member directory that is up-dated several times a year, and hold  a well-attended Beanpicker reunion once every three years on Memorial Day weekend.

 The last up-date of Beanpicker alumni shows

Class members             1085
Deceased                       370
Unknown status                         125
Accounted for                590

 Pompano High students remain fiercely loyal to their school. The words of our fight song tell it all:

For we are students of old Pompano High

To show our love for her will never die

For we are fighting for old PHS

We count on every one of you to do your best 

For we will fight, fight, fight whenever we can. 

For she’s the best old school in all the land

For POMPANO HIGH SCHOOL’S rep we never fear

So give a cheer. Rah! Rah! Rah!