Some of the 1952-53 members of the Mill Spring High School Future Farmers of America work on a tractor owned by the Mill Spring chapter. (photo submitted by Ted Owens)

Mill Spring High reunion planned

Published 9:43pm Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Event Oct. 19 at old school (ag center)
A high school reunion for Mill Spring School is scheduled on Oct. 19 beginning at 1 p.m. Anyone who ever attended Mill Spring High School is invited to attend the reunion.
The event will be held at the former school, which currently houses the Mill Spring Agricultural Center.
Mill Spring School got its start in the 1921-1923 era in a new brick building created to consolidate community schools, including Pea Ridge. In 1925, Mill Spring was formally recognized as a high school – grades 1 through 11. Silver Creek Community School consolidated with Mill Spring in 1931. In 1934, W.H. “Shorty” McDonald, who later became well known in Tryon, became principal. (McDonald later became an executive at the Southern Mercerizing Plant in Tryon.)
During the mid 1930s, possibly because of a low number of students or economic reasons, high school students attended Stearns School in Columbus. However, McDonald and the residents of Mill Spring fought to have the students returned to Mill Spring High School, and the students were allowed to return in 1938.
A tragedy hit the school in 1940, when the north wing of the school was destroyed by fire. Again the high school students were forced to return to Stearns. The lower grades attended classes in the remaining south wing, the Bethlehem Methodist Church and a building known as the teacherage. The teacherage was built earlier on the school grounds near the south wing to provide room and board for teachers who couldn’t travel daily the distance from their homes to the school. A big oak tree still stands close to the site. The teacherage was later torn down to provide more playground space.
Near the end of 1940, a new north wing was built by the W.P.A. under McDonald’s leadership.
The class of 1942 was the first to graduate from the new school.
In 1943, J.W. Gantt replaced McDonald as principal. Gantt later became superintendent of Polk County Schools. At that time Tryon was its own city school district.
In 1945, Stanley L. Walkerowicz became principal. About this time many changes begin to happen. A new era in education began in 1946 with the addition of a 12th grade. Thus there was no graduating class that year. In 1947, the first class attending school for 12 years graduated.
During the years of 1947 and 1948, the high schools at Stearns and Sunny View were closed and consolidated with Mill Spring. Like any consolidation, this one had its issues, but with the guidance of Walkerowicz and other leaders of the school the issues were resolved.

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