I remember when…Published 10:03pm Friday, May 27, 2011
As Bob Jones High School prepared to graduate it’s seniors this week, Vickie Wallace Morris remembered the first year at the original Bob Jones High School.
The 1974 class of seniors in Madison were the first class not to graduate from Sparkman High School. “To tell the truth I felt sorry for that class,” Morris said. “They were held back along with everyone else in the high school while Bob Jones was built. We all attended what was then called Madison Jr. High, and they were the first class to be listed as graduating from Bob Jones but didn’t get to go to the new school.” Madison Jr. High is now West Madison Elementary School.
Morris was in the first senior class to attend high school in the new building. As she describes it there was little more than an open metal shell of a building with a mud parking lot.
The school was trying a new concept at the time call the open classroom. “There were tall dividers to separate areas they called pods for the classes. And the center of the building was open with the library and the lunchroom room was downstairs” stated Morris. There was no gym, and no football field. The BJHS basketball games were held at the old Madison County Coliseum, and the football games happened at the Monrovia Jr. High, now Monrovia Elementary. There were twenty-one teachers, one counselor, three office staff, two vice-principals, and the principal. The students numbered around four hundred for all four grades. The original Bob Jones High School has now become Discovery Middle School.
Although the students were excited to be attending the new high school it also was a little tense, as the open concept classrooms were noisy and the mud from the parking lot was a constant problem.
The Homecoming Dance that first year was held at the original recreation center next door to the new school, now the Madison Senior Center. Morris said that they had a lot of fun decorating the room for the first dance. The prom was held at the hotel at the airport.
The current Bob Jones High School was built in 1996 and is now a three-year high school with an enrollment of over 2300 students. Madison has had it’s own school system since 1998, when the citizens voted to break away from the county system and fund the schools within the city limits.
Morris remembers, “Chairs were set up and the first graduation ceremony was conducted in the area we used for assemblies at the center of the building.” There were 94 students who graduated that year, compare that with the 684 students who graduated from the BJHS this year.