Gleason's first public school opened in 1906 in the Masonic Male and Female Institute. The institute was a two story brick building erected in 1904 to replace a private school building which had burned in 1902. Since at that time public school funds were limited to three months, citizens paid tuition for their children. Tuition began at one dollar for the first grade and increased twenty-five cents for each grade through the 8th. High school and collegiate students paid three dollars. By the 1910 school year, all pupils were properly classified by grades; and in 1912 - 13, the school became a full-fledged high school.
PRINCIPALS OF GLEASON SCHOOL
Some of the early principals to serve the school were Birch Atkins, Jack Oliver, Marvin Clark, J. B. White, O. E. Holmes, and W. G. Robinson.
Principals from the 1920's were Hugh Hunter, E. L. Freeman, T. D. Ozment and Spencer Taylor.
From 1930 to 1940, the number of teachers had increased to twelve. John C. Cook, R. E. Goodgion and James H. Logan were the principals during this decade.
In 1944, Mr. Logan, the principal for 8 years, was called for military duty; so Estelle Bobbitt assumed the duties of the principal for the remainder of the year. Other principals of our school were J. C. Choate and Charles Butler.
Following Mr. Butler as principal of Gleason School was Mr. J. T. Moore. Mr. Moore came to Gleason as principal in the summer of 1952 and remained in that capacity until his retirement following the conclusion of the 1980 school year. "Coach" Clarence Barham assumed the duties as principal the following year remaining in that capacity until 1983 when he accepted the position as principal at Huntingdon Primary School.
The 1983 - 84 school year brought with it Ken Willey as principal; that same year six teachers joined the Gleason faculty. In 1985-86, the enrollment for K - 12 was 540 student and 23 teachers.
Mr. Jerry P. Simmons came to Gleason School as principal in the fall of 1986. With the success of the past few years and with Mr. Simmons' desire for excellence - THE BEST IS YET TO COME! Mitchell Parham serves in the capacity of Assistant Principal and Mrs. Brenda Sawyers as the Secretary. The present enrollment is 549 students. The current staff includes 31 teachers, 5 teacher aides, 5 bus drivers, 3 janitors, and 8 lunchroom workers.
SCHOOL GROWTH AND IMPROVEMENTS
By 1910, the enrollment had reached 150. This increase in enrollment made necessary the addition to two new rooms. As early as 1917, a home economics department was organized by Miss. Clement. By 1929, the attendance had increased to 350, and a new building which was begun that year was ready for commencement in May 1929. The lovely new building was adequate with fourteen classrooms, a library, an assembly hall and a principal's office.
In 1931 - 32, the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), which was organized in the early 1920's, converted the old school building into a gymnasium, perhaps the first in the country. Since that time the PTA has been an active organization working in the interest of the school. Some of the many contributions made by this organization have been the instillation of electric drinking fountains, playground equipment for the elementary grades and a tennis court.
The parent association has been reorganized, and the name changed to the Gleason School Association. Despite the name change, the group's dedication and hard work toward the improvement of Gleason School has not changed; they continue to provide funds and programs which help make Gleason School even better.
A new gymnasium and six rooms were built in 1947. The lunch program, which was begun in the early 1930's underwent renovation in 1954 when a new, modern lunch room was built separately from the main school building. A short time later, an arcade connecting it to the main building was built with funds provided by the PTA and the Rotary Club.
During 1963 - 64, three new classrooms were added on the south side of the gymnasium, two new restrooms and a concession stand were built in front of the gym, and the home economics department was enlarged and remodeled according to state specifications. The 1963 class sponsored by Mrs. Estelle Bobbitt and Mr. Vernon Dunn, bronzed the bell from the old school building and erected a brick monument in front of the school upon which they hung the bell.
In 1974, a portable building was placed on the campus to house the kindergarten classes; another was added in 1976. A large two classroom brick addition was made in 1977. The school was carpeted, and the library's collection improved in quality as well as quantity since the beginning of the school. Many other improvements have been made since Gleason School open its doors, inclusive the instillation of an inter-communication system, sufficient bus service for students to leave home and arrive back within an hour of the school opening and closing; bricking of the agriculture building, which was built in 1948, and the addition of major equipment needed in the agriculture department. The science department combined two classrooms to make a new science lab and storage room. An instructor's desk with electricity, gas, and water was also added during this renovation.
Gleason "folks" dreamed about and talked about the need for a new school for many years. Finally, in 1982, those "dreams" were fulfilled. Following two years of construction, students and faculty moved into the new building. Those who were in school or teaching at that time will probably always remember the day everyone pitched in and moved from the old building into the new. A record might have set that day, for within two hours "almost" everything was in the new building. It took weeks to get everything exactly as it should be; but the cooperative efforts of both the students and faculty made the task move efficiently.
As glad as we were to get the new building (and we certainly needed it), there are many who quietly shed a few tears the day the old oak tree which stood in the front of the Gleason School campus was cut down. A ceremony was held that afternoon when students and faculty joined hands to form a circle around the tree and sang the alma mater.
STUDENTS AND TEACHERS
During the 1920's and 1930's, teachers salaries increased from $35 per month, which was the salary in 1885, to $40 to $75 per month in the elementary school grades and from $65 to $100 for high school teachers.
In the 1920's, commencement week was a gala affair for the Gleason community. Four events presented by or involving Seniors highlighted the week: a Baccalaureate Service, Class Day, a Senior Play and Graduation.
The years between 1940 and 1950 were a period of growth and progress for the school. There were 425 students enrolled and an addition of 2 teachers made to the faculty.
Since 1906, more than 1,500 students have graduated from Gleason High School with the 1945 class of seniors as the smallest and both the 1964 and the 1965 classes, with 38 each, as the largest graduation classes to that date. Each of these three classes were affected by the war; the 1945 class was small because students and teachers had been drafted during World War II. Following the return of the boys from service, the so called "war babies" of the resulting "baby boom" from that era graduated in 1964 and 1965.
In 1978, the enrollment was 321 students for K - 6 with 13 teachers and 289 students for grades 7 - 12 with 12 teachers. In addition to the teaching faculty, there was one special education aide teacher. Mrs. Gloria Taylor served as school secretary, Mr. Vernon Dunn as Assistant Principal, and Mr. J. T. Moore as Principal. During the period beginning in 1910 and ending in 1979, Gleason School grew from an enrollment of 150 to an enrollment of 610.
A foreign language program emphasizing French I and French II has been initiated into the curriculum to better prepare Gleason's graduates for college entrance requirements. The K-8 Basic Skills Program has resulted in higher test scores and an overall improved student achievement. Governor Lamar Alexander's Career Ladder Program has opened opportunities to the majority of Gleason School's thirty-one member faculty through their participation in the Better Schools Program. The school's faculty includes one Level III teacher and two Level II teachers with others currently involved in the evaluation process. All other eligible faculty are Career Level I teachers.
Gleason graduates, some of which have included three generations of the same family attending the school and having the same teachers, have gone on to become outstanding men and women both professionally and personally. We have students who are famous doctors, musicians, and politicians as well as a few who can be classified as "millionaires". The graduates of Gleason School are exceptional representatives of a successful high school education who are visible in all walks of life.
ATHLETICS AT GLEASON SCHOOL
Early in the history of the Gleason School, the Athletic Department won some first-class ratings. Probably no school of comparable size anywhere in the state can compare with the overall athletic program of Gleason which includes boys and girls basketball, football, girls softball, and boys baseball.
The year 1929 was the advent of Gleason's football program with Frank Margrave, Jr. scoring the first touchdown. Also on the team were Woodrow Wray, Pete Taylor, Harold Fanning, Edward (Deby) Taylor, Finis Johnson, Harold Johnson, Curtis Castleman, Lawrence Dunn, William Parks, Carl Parks, Henry Trevathan, Lyndell Freeman, "Duck" Edmonston, Thomas Carey White, Earl Hamilton, Doc Bell, Bennie King, Tom Cooper, Homer Bradberry, and Harris Stewart. Their schedule included Greenfield, Camden, Humboldt, Newbern, Paris, Obion, Dresden (twice), Hornbeak (lost 89 to 0) and Decaturville (only game won). Swanson was the team's coach. Football has continued uninterrupted ever since its beginning in 1929.
An afternoon schedule of three games was played in 1944 despite the fact that this was a period when many schools dropped the sport because of the war. One of the high points in the fifty-year history of football was the fine team of 1934 which included Wray Dellinger, Thomas Wray, Captain - Lewis Heath, Lyndell Sawyers, Bailey Bullock, "Check" Fowler, Bill Hawks, Jim Allmon, Willard Huggins, Bennie King and "Genie" Phelps with Logan as coach. They scored 217 points in 11 wins and allowed the opposition only 27 points in an undefeated season. The 1940's brought in the "Chicken" Brawner era and the "Jug" Wray era.
Playing facilities improved from the afternoon games of Hamilton Field and the cold showers in the old gym of the 1930's to the short 80 yard field running east to west directly behind the school in the 1940's to the extended 100 yard field in the 1950's to the present field (named for Jack Parks and John Edwards, two of Gleason's athletes who gave their lives in World War II). The night Park-Edwards Field was dedicated, the Gleason Bulldogs played their first night game in the school's history under the newly installed flood lights defeating the Dresden "Lions" 19 to 0.
The 1963 team of Larry Freeman, Jimmy Belew, Russell Byrd, Jerry Sanders, Glen Margrave, Johnny Bradberry, Ronnie Taylor, George Sawyers, Ronnie Dilday, Freddie Spain, Nicky Bowers, James Dellinger, "Bucky" Brawner, Jeter Trevathan, Gary Owens, James Morris, Jere Jeter, Jerry McElhiney and Billy Snider coached by Ed Settlers won all nine season games. This outstanding team went on to win the conference championship. During the season the team scored 229 points while allowing their opponents only 32 points. The team's season continued with an invitation to Lexington to play against Parsons in the Lexington Rotary Bowl where their willing streak continued with a 20 - 14 victory over Parsons.
In 1984 - 85, the Gleason Bulldogs posted a super season record of 9 wins and 1 loss with Bob Dilday named "Coach of the Year." The 1987 - 88 Gleason Bulldogs again took top honors winning the Reelfoot Conference championship.
Gleason Bulldogs who have been named to the All-State Football team include Rusty Robinson, 1979; Wendell Verdell, 1981; David Dunning, 1982 and Mike Freeman 1985.
In 1977, Coach Bob Dilday originated the "J. T. Moore" Award which is awarded to a Gleason High School senior for outstanding athletic and scholastic achievement. Steve Huey and Kim Lampkins were the first students to receive this prestigious award, Other include 1978 - Jeff Boone, Eric Owen and Kim Lampkins; 1979 - Jeff Phelps and Kim Barber; 1980 - Rachel Dunning and Rusty Robison; 1981 - Janine Wilks and Jerry Summers; 1982 - Gina Ross and Wendy Verdell; 1983 - Tammy Doster and David Dunning; 1984 - Connie Barham, Marty Poole and Andy Wilson; 1985 - Jere Glenn and Kim Margrave; 1986 - Mike Freeman and Lee Bullock; 1987 - Stacy Collins and Chris Connell; 1988 - Roy Lowarance and Amy Margrave (1988).
Another era will end in Gleason football's history when Bob Dilday retries at the tend of the 1987 school year. His outstanding coaching ability has led the Bulldogs to an unprecedented record. Coach Dilday has had an important impact on so many of the Bulldog players through the years and has become himself somewhat of a legend that will become an integral part of Gleason's football history.
Basketball progressed from the few winter games on the outdoor courts of the 1920's and early 1930's to the outstanding record of the early 1950's girls' teams when the 1952 - 1953 team advanced as far as the regional tournament. Basketball, which had never been a real strong sport in Gleason until 1969, suddenly took on a new precedence when both the boys' and girls' teams of this small school with only 150 students advanced to the State Tournaments. The 1969 girls' team's record was 22 wins and 2 losses with Pam Floyd, Beverly Dunn, Kim Robinson, Sherry Suddath, Charlene McCullar as forwards and Vicki Wray, Debbie Hatch, Nettie Martin, Kathy Wray, Pat Lovett, Beverly Clark and Sandra White as guards. They were coached by Dudley Sanders. The boy's team consisted of Danny McElhiney, Ken Sanders, Billy Sawyers, Calvin Bailey, Eddie Julian, Harold Reed, Bobby Travillian, Gary Doster, Jack Barber, and Bobby Bailey. The team, which was coached by Jerry McClain, had a season record of 20 wins and 2 losses.
Click on the Link Below for More Gleason School History
Reflections on Gleason School History
Dudley "Butch" Sanders
The history of the Gleason community provided in Oakwood-Gleason: A Look Back provides an account of Gleason's history up through the time the book was originally published. As 20+ years have now passed since its publication, Gleason Online is providing a "History Update" feature, for each section of the book, for those wishing to add important historical information relevant to the Gleason community. Contributions can be submitted via E-mail attachment by clicking on the "Website Visitor Comments" graphic, provided above.
Gleason Girls Basketball: The Post 1986 Era
If Dudley Sanders was the legendary girls basketball coach of the pre-1986 era, Coach Randy Frazier clearly deserves that title in the post-1986 period. Indeed, Randy Frazier has set standards for girls high school basketball that will be hard to match by anyone attempting to fill his shoes at some point in the years to come.
For some 21 years, Coach Frazier has been coaching and molding young players at both the junior high and high school levels. During this time he has a 21-year won - loss record of 590 wins and 114 losses that would be the envy of any basketball coach - at any level. During this time he has led teams to 16 District titles, three Region titles, and one state Runner-up title. On top of that, Frazier has coached a total of three Tennessee Class A High School "Miss. Basketball" recipients (Kara Sanders Atkins, 1996; Ashley McElhiney, 1999; Kayla Hudson, 2007). And, if that was not enough, he has led Gleason to Class A State Championship titles in 1992, 1999, and most recently in 2007. It is from sustained accomplishments such as these that legends are made!
Jim Johnson, Gainesville, Florida
Gleason School 2004: Addition of a New Gymnasium
(Photo: Jim Johnson, 12/2004)
New Gym Readies Gleason High School to Host New Memories
(Click on picture for stories about the Dudley Sanders Memorial Gymnasium)
With the beginning of the 2004 - 2005 school year, Gleason High School's got a brand new gymnasium. This new gym replaced Dudley Sanders Memorial Gymnasium as the home of both the Gleason High School and Junior High Bulldogs and boasts all the most modern hard court luxuries.
Central air conditioning now remedies the humid nights at the old gymnasium that was not equipped with any type of a cooling system. Retractable bleachers give the Gleason basketball squads room for a pair of practice courts along with four sideline goals, designed strictly for double practices.
The new gym dwarfs the old gym with a seating capacity near 1,500 compared to the 900 capacity of the old gym. Parking has also been paved and lined off for the gym with Gleason's back lot parking increasing from 35 to 90 spots going into this school year. Banners from the old gym recognizing the many accomplishment of Gleason teams through the years have been moved into the new facility.
The addition of this new gym will allow Gleason to once again host major events such as the Weakley County Junior High Championships as well as district and regional high school basketball tournaments.
With the opening of the new gym, the book closed on 55 years of basketball at Dudley Sanders Memorial Gym, a hallowed place that saw a pair of Miss Basketballs perform, and two state championship teams. However, with that, comes the lure of a new book with clean pages galore, as Gleason looks to write many new chapters in basketball lore. Source: Adapted from an article by Kenneth Coker, Weakley County Press.
Click on the Link Below for More Gleason School History
Reflections on Gleason School History
Dudley "Butch" Sanders