Saturday, August 4, 2007

Hubbertville School History and News

Faye Dodd

This article taken from The Times Record Wednesday, September 30, 1998



History, for most of us, is not something that directly affects our daily lives. If it does, we're not aware of it. Most of us tend to think of history as just another class we took in school. But at Hubbertville School, it's different. History is literally all around you. It's in the oak floorboards and on the walls of the school building, and more importantly, it's in the hearts and minds of a dedicated community that works hard to establish the school in 1923 and to rebuild it after fires in 1934 and 1939. A brown-frame building was the first incarnation of Hubbertville School.

It opened on October 8, 1923. History of the school and the community is just as important to today's Hubbertville students as it was when the school was founded, every bit as much a part of their education as the history of their state, country, and world. That history is what will be celebrated on Oct. 8 when the school marks its 75th anniversary with a special celebration. The festivities will begin with a reception at 3:30 p.m. in the school library, where a slide show will be presented along with lots of school and community memorabilia. A cookout will begin at 5 p.m. in R.Wiley Hollingsworth Stadium, which is adjacent to the school building. Entertainment will start at 6 p.m. with bluegrass music and the Hubbertville band and cheerleaders among the attractions. Many Hubbertville graduates and former athletes and several honored guests are also expected. "Everyone who has attended or supported Hubbertville School is invited to join us," said Dr. Isaac Espy, the schools 10th principal.

The principal when Hubbertvi1le School opened its doors on Oct. 8, 1923 was L. G. Cantrell. Hubbertville School had been formed that year by the consolidation of four smaller schools -- New River School (1899-1923), which was held in the New River Church of Christ. Pleasant View School, (1911 or 1912-1923), also called the Jones School because it was built on land owned by John Jones. Hubbert School (1912-1923), which was located on Highway 129 and was also called Frog Heaven. And Hickory Rock School (1905-1923), so named because near the location of the school was a petrified hickory tree, a portion of which remains in the Hubbertville School library to this day.

The four one-room schools were consolidated by , an act of the Fayette County Board of Education on July 2, 1923. A citizen of the area, Houston Haney, was instrumental in bringing about the consolidation. He travelled to each community, meeting with trustees and families from each school to convince them that building and maintaining one school would be more economical. After a fire destroyed the first Hubbertville School in 1934, principal Wiley Hollingsworth and community members worked to construct this 12-room building, which helped gain accreditation in 1935. Local citizens were persuaded because they were "education-minded, believing that their children should have the, opportunity to receive the best education possible," said Faye Dodd, Hubbertville School's librarian for the past 36 years. The dream of parents in the area, said Dodd, "was to provide a school which would enable their children to obtain a high school education without leaving home to board in some other town. Local citizens went to work and succeeded in making their dream a reality.” Board of Education member and area resident C.M. "Curt" Hubbert donated five acres of land across from his store for the school site. The school was named Hubbertville in honor of Hubbert's donation.

The school enjoyed steady growth, and Hubbert and his wife, Mary, donated 10 more acres to the school around 1935. Their daughter, Edril Hubbert McCaleb donated the land that became the site. of the school's present gymnasium in 1966-67, and sold the school more land in 1970. Her son, Hubbert Steven McCaleb, who teaches at Hubbertville, donated three more acres to the school in 1984, increasing the total campus to 21 acres. Original plans called for Hubbertville School to be a three room building which would serve grades one through nine. The Board of Education gave $100 for each room, and the people of the community raised the rest of the money and donated labor to construct the school.

When classes started, enrollment was more than expected, so the community donated more money and more labor to make it a five-room school. The brown frame building had cedar shingles, and it housed classes for five months that first year. After Cantrell left in 1925, E.C. Herren became the schools second principal, serving from 1925 to 1927. Clifton M. Kuykendall took the helm for the 1927-28 school year, and Hollis Hiten for the 1928-29 school year. John HolIiman was the principal in 1928-29. Mrs. Dodd explained that teachers and principals were elected by popular vote during those early years and they changed often. But a Board of Trustees was set up in 1930, and they selected the, teachers." Also in 1930, the school was lucky enough to get the first of two long term principals named Hollingsworth. Rufus Wiley Hollingsworth, who had been principal at the Glen Allen school, headed Hubbertville School for 33 years, from 1930 to 1963. And when he moved on to become the counties Superintendent of Education, Caldwell Hollingsworth, a teacher and coach at Hubbertville, took over the principal's job: Caldwell Hollingsworth was principal of Hubbertville School for 27 years, from 1963 until his retirement in 1990. In their collective 60 years running the school, the Hollingsworth’s saved Hubbertville through many changes. Wiley Hollingsworth, who was known to his students as “Professor Hollingsworth” or “Prof” for short, added 10th, 11th and 12th grades at the school. The first senior class graduated in 1936. He also established the athletic department at Hubbertville and helped reorganize a Parent-Teacher Association. Wiley Hollingworth also saw Hubbertville through the construction of its second school building after the first one burned an April 10, 1934.

Community members built the new building on the same site, funded partly with $5,100 in fire insurance on the first building. The community raised over $3,000 toward the cost of the building. The new school was an l1-room white frame building constructed mainly with free labor from community members. Shortly after the building was constructed, Hubbertville applied for accreditation with the state of Alabama. One more room was needed to meet accreditation standards, and again the community responded. Though it wasn't easy to come up with money during the days of the Great Depression, people sold calves, chickens, shelled corn, milk, eggs, butter or anything else they had in order to contribute money for the school room. The county Board of Education helped out by providing funding for library materials and a science laboratory that were also needed for accreditation. After the necessary funds were raised, the additional room constructed, and the library materials and science equipment installed, Hubbertville High School became accredited by the State of Alabama in December 1935. Unfortunately Hubbertville's second school building burned just five years after the first one on Friday moming Oct. 6, 1939. Students and teachers were arriving for class around 7 a.m. as the fire blazed, many of the students were on new school busses that had been purchased that year. "Several of the bus drivers stopped their busses a safe distance from the school to protect the children, who sat on the busses and cried while they watched ,their new school building burn to the ground," said Mrs. Dodd. "Many of these students have since said that this was one of the saddest memories of their lives.”

Once again, the community rallied to rebuild the school. With the help of Fayette County Probate Judge J.M. Moore and school board member Chester Jones, who lived in Hubbertville, Wiley Hollingsworth and the Board of Education applied for a Works Progress Administration grant of $46,000. Additional funds came from Fayette County's sale of $50,000 in Capital Outlay Warrants. Each teacher at HubbertviIle at that time made a cash donation, and C.M. Hubbert who had donated the land for the school site, matched the money donated by the faculty. He also paid for some of the labor for the digging of ditches and drain lines. The present split-level brick structure was constructed on the same site in 1940-41. Approximately 40 community members worked for 50 cents a day to help rebuild the school. During the two years required to build the third school building some classes were held in local churches at Berea, Hubbertville, and New River. Classes were also held in homes owned by Chester Jones, Monroe Stough and C.M Hubbert. High school students attended classes in the new school busses which were among the first real busses used by Fayette County schools. Earlier home made busses had been made from big trucks owned and driven by private individuals. Hubbertville's enrollment, which had been around 500 at the time the second building burned, increased to approximately 600 students in 1947 when the Glen Allen school burned and was not rebuilt. Hubbertville’s school program and its athletic program continued to grow, with the boys basketball team winning the Class B state championship team with Wiley Hollingsworth as coach. Construction on the football stadium was begun in 1948, and after choosing a lion as the school mascot, the football team started in 1949 under coach R.L. "Bobby" Lott. In Lott's second and third years, the Lions celebrated two consecutive undefeated seasons, winning the Section Four championship in Class A.

During Wiley HoIlingsworth tenure the school also established a vocational agriculture program and, in 1959, built Mary Hubbert Hall, which was to be used at the discretion of the school for social events, school activities, and as a health enter. Caldwell Hollingsworth, a 1949 Hubbertville graduate, also oversaw many improvements to the school, including the construction of a new gymnasium, the remodeling of the old gym auditorium into the school’s current library, the construction of a new lunchroom, and a softball complex. He was also instrumental in establishing such programs at Hubbertville as Advanced Placement and instruction in foreign languages and the higher sciences and mathematics, and he was responsible for setting up the high school’s first computer lab. The elementary school was accredited by the state of Alabama, and the entire school was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools during Caldwell Hollingsworth's tenure. The academic building at the school was named in his honor in February 1997 and was officially dedicated as the Caldwell Hollingsworth Academic building in August 1998.

Principals after Caldwell Hollingsworth's retirement were Steve Whitson, who served from 1990 to 1993, arid William "Bill" Carothers, who served from 1993 until his retirement in June 1998. Dr. Espy was hired in July 1958. Whitson headed efforts to establish a computer lab, for the elementary grades and also computerized student grades and demographics. He was involved in the community's efforts to build a park which today provides lighted baseball fields for all ages, a walking rail, concession stands and restrooms, and a playground area. Carothers established a new high school computer lab at Hubbertville and helped get a Write to Read computer lab for kindergarten through second grade students. He also moved, elementary playground equipment to the Hubbertville Community Park and added new equipment. He raised funds through donations to construct a dressing room at the football stadium in 1997 for use by visiting teams. The school's athletic programs have continued to prosper along with the academic program. Hubbertville won state championships in girls basketball in 1980 and 1989 and girls softball in 1989, 1990 and 1991. All during the tenure of coach Lamar Harris. Harris, who is in his 22nd year at Hubbertville, coaches every sport the school offers and serves as an unpaid assistant principal. HubbertvilIe School continues to enjoy the support of organizations like the PTO, the Hubbertville Booster Club, the Lions Club. and the Hubbertville Senior Citizens Club, all of which sponsor many varied activities in the school and community. The school continues to be, as it has been throughout its history. the focal point of the community.

"The Hubbertville citizens of the 1920s, who dreamed of replacing the one-room frame schools in the community with a modern, comfortable facility where their children could obtain a high school education. I have lived to see their dream come true." said Mrs. Dodd. "These people possess a tremendous pride in their school which few communities can equal or surpass. "Strangers who visit Hubbertville School and community invariably remark that Hubbertville is just like one big friendly family." she continued. "Perhaps this is the one most important quality that has contributed to the success of the school."

Note: The information for this story was researched arid gathered over several years by Hubbertville School librarian Faye Dodd. The Times-Record greatly appreciates her help with this article

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