Gulf High's 90th Birthday Approaches
Much has changed about the school since it was built, including its location and the population it serves.
A milestone is on the horizon for Gulf High.
The school celebrates its 90th birthday next month.
This is the story of how Gulf High got where it is today.
Gulf High's first campus was built at 5520 Grand Blvd. and was completed May 11, 1922.
The year prior, "the school district in which New Port Richey is located voted in favor of the issue of bonds in the amount of $50,000," according to Fivay.org, a Pasco history website maintained by current Gulf High math teacher and webmaster Jeff Miller.
Of that total bond issue, $35,000 was for a new high school.
The school celebrated its opening on Sept. 18, 1922. The campus didn't have an auditorium at the time, and the ceremony was held at a local church.
Two days later, classes started in the campus.
A New Port Richey Press article published Sept. 21, 1922, explains “It was the general opinion that this was the greatest event in the history of the West Coast of Pasco County from an educational standpoint, and also for the further industrial development of this already prosperous section.”
The first Gulf High students were in grades 9-11.
Thirty-nine students were enrolled the week the school opened with more expected. The school had three teachers.
The first real graduation of seniors was April 29, 1924.
What was the high school like in its early years?
Pauline Stevenson Ash writes in the book Florida Cracker Days in West Pasco County, 1830-1982 that in 1924 there were too few students at Gulf High for the school to be accredited.
There was a lunch stand right across the street, and “some of us would save five cents for a hot dog and five cents for a drink … If we found someone with a car, a group of us would sometimes pile in and take our sack lunches to Fred Frierson's Drug Store on Main Street and order root beer -- always with two straws.”
Ash and other students once took a ride on a small boat on the nearby Pithlachascotee River after lunch and almost overturned. The principal found out and made the guilty parties stay after school to study for a week.
“At the time, all buses were owned and operated by individuals because there was no money for school system buses,” Ash wrote.
The school was accredited in 1925. The student population expanded, and the school added a north wing in 1926.
In 1941, the Gulf High Buccaneers football team won its first conference championship.
On Sept. 9, 1961, the new Gulf High campus at Louisiana Avenue was dedicated. The Grand Boulevard building Gulf High moved out of is still standing, but now it's home to Schwettman Education Center, an alternative school.
Black students were first allowed to attend Gulf High in the 1966-67 school year. Before then, racial segregation rules restricted them to attending high school in Tarpon Springs or Clearwater.
In September 1977, Gulf High moved into its current location at what is now 5355 School Road in New Port Richey. Gulf Junior High School had been operating in the School Road location and moved out when Gulf High moved in.
Gulf Junior High School moved into the Louisiana campus Gulf High was using. It now goes by the name of Gulf Middle.
In 2007, Gulf High officially became an international baccalaureate school.
In the 2008-09 school year, Gulf High achieved a D grade. It climbed to a B grade the next year and has since maintained that rating.
Now, Gulf High School is expecting an enrollment of 1,238 students for the current year. It has a new principal in Kimberly Davis, who is an experienced educator.
Official birthday celebration plans have not been announced.
But...Gulf High teachers have ordered new T-shirts with 90th birthday messages and filled a wall of their lunchroom with memorable photos in honor of the occasion.
Did you attend Gulf High? Do you have a favorite memory of the school? Let us know in the comments section.