yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee
History of Sardis, TN

From Beulah Hanna and Carra Holland, History of Sardis, Tennessee, Sardis Homecoming '86 Committee, May 1986.


As has previously been stated our school building was condemned in Spring of 1939. Up to this time, Sardis had financed its own school buildings. The one in which we were teaching in 1939 was constructed in the very early 1900s before the county and state had begun to finance school buildings and even in 1929-1931 there was no county or state money available to build a gym for Sardis school and the Sardis community erected the gym that we used until early 1950s.

By 1939 the Seventh District which contained Sardis was the second largest tax paying district in the county and also the second largest voting district. When we learned that the building was condemned, the community organized at once and began to make plans to get an adequate building for both elementary and high school. The people took our needs to the school board and county court. When the time came to present our request to the board and the court, they had chosen certain ones to speak for them and almost every man in Sardis and surrounding community went with them to show their interest. Finally we were provided $25,000 to build a new building and the new building was ready for use by July 1940.

Hershel Davis was awarded the contract to build the building. His crew were local people. Among those who worked on the building were Jasper Bivens, J. F. Rice, Earl Story, Ray Little, and Arthur Stanfill. it wasn't an easy job. The foundation was dug by hand and with mules. The right wing of the building had to be cut short because the building fund was not enough to build it as planned.

In the school year of 1939-1940, while the new building was being constructed, school was taught at different places in town. First grade was housed in Southern Methodist Church; second, third and fourth were in what is now the Senior Citizens Building; fifth and sixth grades were in the Church of Christ; and seventh and eighth grades were in Methodist Episcopal Church. The home economics classes used the Masonic Hall. The agriculture building was not condemned so the remainder of the high school classes met in the agriculture building and the gym. Both teachers and students had to adjust to conditions, but both were glad to do it in anticipation of an adequate building. At the end of the school year, the Henderson County supervisor, Miss Louise Oakley, made the statement that despite the makeshift quarters, it was one of our best years academically. Teachers for that year were Ruth Vandyke, first grade; Ruby Hanna, second grade; Beulah Hanna, third and fourth grades; Walter Carter, fifth and sixth grades; Benson Travillion, seventh and eighth grades; Burl Smith, principal; Fred Colvent, Mildred Derryberry Douglass, Billie Blevins and Nell Duffy, high school teachers.

The school moved into the new building in July 1940. Sardis had previously a four year high school since the school year 1931-1932 of which the community was very proud. Now that we had a better and larger building and a beautiful campus, there was great enthusiasm. The enrollment increased as Center Hill and Reagan High School pupils began to transfer here. Also several from marginal areas -- east, south and west of Sardis -- transferred here. This was a welcome addition to the school. Principals from the 1940-1941 school year to the 1949-1950 school year were A. J. Steele, Nell Duffy, Yvonne Carter, Ashley Adams, G. R. Haley, and Grady Duncan. Agriculture teachers were H. L. Davis, Kenneth Johnson, Joe Boswell, A. F. Cannon, and Grover Westover. Home economics teachers were Flavia Webb and Alene Presley. Beulah Hanna was transfered from elementary in 1947 to replace Alene Presley who was leaving.

Other teachers were Richard Brazzell, Billie Chalk, Ruby Hanna, Glathan McPeake, Ruth Vandyke, Mr. and Mrs. J. L. Fesmire, Frances Lockman, Alma Jo Webster, and Lou Bell Petty. With the cooperation of the P.T.A., playground equipment was added gradually over a period of time until the playground was fairly well equipped. The playground has always been kept well, and painted, and when needed replaced with new pieces thanks to the P.T.A. and Civic Club. Even today the children of the town are enjoying this playground equipment. It was left on the campus when the school was consolidated at Southside.

With the increase in enrollment there was a demand for more courses. With the new building and plenty of rooms, more courses could be offered. More typewriters were added for extra typing students. Shorthand and bookkeeping was offered and also business law. In a short time, the science-biology department was equipped for more lab experiments and chemistry was added to the curriculum. Geometry was offered in addition to math, and algebra I and II. When there was a demand, unified math was taught. Teachers were added as needed. Due to World War II in the early 1940s, there was a scarcity of teachers in general. But fortunately the Board of Education was able to secure efficient teachers for Sardis. Sardis community has always respected its teachers and supported them. Having great pride in the school, many parents were quick to express appreciation, thus most teachers had a desire to give their best.

In the mid-1940s the faculty, desiring to provide opportunity for everyone to participate in some extra curricular activity, organized two groups, namely the Chickasaws and the Cherokees. Rules were established and two chiefs selected. These two leaders took turns choosing until everyone on roll was chosen. When a new pupil enrolled he was assigned to the group with the fewest. The next to enroll was added to the other group. Thus the groups were kept equal in number. The groups each chose a teacher for their advisor. They would meet occasionally to plan activities. Then they would compete with each other. They would plan softball games, foot races, high jumping, sack racing, barrel walks and such, anything for activity and fun. In the spring, they would be given a "no school" day for a field day. The day would be well planned with a full day of activities. Points were awarded for each entry. At the end of the day, the group with the most points was the winner. These groups were enjoyed for some years and were dropped with the advent of glee clubs and pep clubs.

In the school year 1947-1948 the seniors put together the first yearbook for Sardis High School. The seniors sold ads to Sardis business men and at Lexington and Savannah to finance it. The 14 seniors with Mrs. Beulah Hanna as advisor planned and put it together for the publisher. Both the senior class and the entire school were very pleased with it. The seniors continued to compile a school yearbook each year until the school was moved in 1984. Each class took pride in their yearbook and tried each year to improve on the preceding year.

The 1948 graduating class also earned enough money to finance a class trip to the Smokies. So in April of that year the junior and seniors with their class sponsors and room mothers, left for a trip to Ruby's Falls, Rock City, Chattanooga. Fort Oglethorpe and on to Gatlinburg. After a three-day weekend they were back in Sardis, tired but happy. Thus the junior-senior class trip became a tradition for several years. Trips by different junior-senior classes were made to various places including Gulfport, Mobile, New Orleans, Panama City and Pensacola Beach. Times and people change and these trips became too big a responsibility and were discontinued.

As had been the custom for many years, the school had a whole week of entertainment at the close of the school year. This week began with the baccalaureate sermon on Sunday, followed by an operetta staged by the elementary grades on Monday night. Then, there were high school class plays on succeeding nights and the week ended with graduation exercises on Friday night. The seniors of 194.8 staged the play, "Rich for a Day." Practicing for the operetta and directing these plays took lots of class time. In many schools this week of entertainment was known as commencement week. Educators began to question if this was worth the time taken from class work. Gradually, commencement week was cut down to the baccalaureate sermon, senior play and graduation night. Sardis High School sponsored the first West Tennessee Fiddler's Contest in 1949. It was a great success. The late Clyde Reeves emceed it until his death. Then, Mr. Plautt Lindsay emceed it for a year or two. Since then, Lynn Pratt has emceed it.

This is said to be the longest running fiddler's contest in the state. The 36th Fiddler's Contest was held in 1985. Here are some musicians who performed in the first contest in 1949: Curtis McPeake, now with Danny Davis and the Nashville Brass; The Rhodes Brothers; and Harvel "Curly" Lunsford. There is usually a standing room only crowd. It was sponsored by the school to raise funds. We are told that the Sardis Fire Department will continue to sponsor it for funds.

Principals from 1949 to 1985 were Grady Duncan, 1949-1950; G. L. Meek, 1950-1951; J. T. Moore, 1951-1952; Graper Woody, 1952-1954; Talmadge Hudson, 1954-1955; Harold Holmes, 1955-1957; Mack Chandler, 1957-1968; Stanley Smith, 1968-1969; Danny Johnson, 1969-1981; and Mack Chandler, November 1981-1984. Some other teachers were McCall Lewis and Manuel Pipkin, agriculture; and Beulah Hanna and Coleen Kelley, home economics. Others were Amy Sue Stewart, Mrs. Dell Helms, Don Carter, Dolan Rogers, T. S. Brewer, Marse McPeake, Fred Jones, Mary Owen, Marlin Stewart, Granville Milam, Earline Powers, Ernestine Fesmire, Dale Crews, Carolyn Swift,

Richard Brazzel, Judy Johnson, P. R. Turner, Gerald Johnson, Jeanne Crews, Jane Willis, Joyce McBride, Melvin Montgomery, Shirley Johnson, Gloria Hayes, Thomas Bullock, Larry Dunivant, Celia Faye Barrow, Ludie Houston, A. L. Powers, Tim Johnson, Danny Frizzel, Danny Rhodes, Lois Hayes, Ruby Hanna, Ruth Vandyke, Marvin Bartholomew, Minnie Adams, Oren Benson, Norma Willis, Riley Goff, Carol White, Montyrue Gurley, Jerry Hayes, Christine Rogers, Georgette Holland, Charlotte Long, Jimmy Presley, Johnny Pollock, Julie Hart, Ida Bonner, Sharon Fiddler, Jeff Dyer, Denise Finley, Janet Presley, Sherry Grice, Willie McAdams, and Travis Fiddler.

Sardis has been fortunate to have many principals who were capable administrators and also could bring out the best in students. But two stand out because they stayed long enough to become a part of the community. They made their homes here and were vitally interested in the school for they had children in school here. They were Mack Chandler who was here from fall of 1957 to spring of 1968, and Danny Johnson who was here from fall of 1969 to November of 1981. Then, Mr. Chandler agreed to come out of early retirement and come back to Sardis. He was here this time from November 1981 to the end of the school year in 1984 when Sardis was consolidated with other schools.

On the whole, we of Sardis are proud and appreciative of the quality of teaching done in the 52 years as an elementary and four-year high school.

We will discuss the various departments some. Our science-biology-chemistry department had many different teachers. But the math department didn't have so many different instructors. We can recall some math teachers who taught several years before going on to other positions or retiring. We are proud of the students who graduated from these two departments. The majority of them went on to trade schools or to college. They received the basics from these two departments that enabled many of them to become doctors, nurses, lab technicians, pharmacists, and engineers.

The commercial department graduated many good typists who, with their knowledge of shorthand and bookkeeping, were prepared to go on with advanced courses in business schools or colleges, and to become qualified office personnel. As in the two departments mentioned above, there were many different commercial teachers so we will not try to mention them, although there were many very capable teachers that taught in this department.

There was just one teacher for the homemaking department from the fall of 1947 until the close of the school year 1967-1968, when the homemaking teacher was asked to teach higher math. The math teacher retired in 1968 and they were unable to get a qualified math teacher to replace him. The homemaking teacher was qualified to teach higher math and was willing to do it. So another teacher was secured and taught homemaking for the remainder of the time. The classes in this department are less formal than other classes. The teacher has better opportunity to emphasize moral standards and encourage each individual to establish her own set of values.

Some basics in making clothing and food preparation were taught during each of the four years a girl took homemaking and 99 percent of the girls did take it for four years. Etiquette, the four basic food groups, correct table setting, body posture, and personality improvement were stressed in this department every year. Other courses were spread out over the four years: home health care and first aid, home management, budgeting and finances in the home, principles of home decorating, color and design, the homemaker's place in the community, careers in the homemaking field, and others. Some of these took six weeks. Some took less time. Also the girls had the opportunity in the Future Homemakers chapter to earn junior, chapter and state degrees. The projects for these degrees were planned to stimulate self-improvement. Many girls did go on to earn state degrees. The Sardis F.H.A. chapter was a charter chapter in the State of Tennessee. The teacher was honored along with 19 other teachers in the state for 20 years of outstanding work with Future Homemakers girls at a dinner in Andrew Jackson Hotel in Nashville in the 1960s.

The homemaking girls cooperated with the P.T.A. by setting tables and serving meals at P.T.A. banquets. They also served at F. F.A. father-son banquets, athletic banquets, and cooked and served dinners for various clubs and groups, to earn money for the department.

Regarding the school library, at first we had only books donated by people of the community. We didn't have a librarian for several years. In 1931, when the four-year high school began, we are told that Miss Nell Duffy, a teacher here, began to classify the donated books according to the Dewey Decimal System and shelved them in order of classification. She was here as a high school teacher for 12 years. Each year some books were added. The county and state allowed some money for library needs and the P.T.A. and teachers raised money in various ways for the school. Some of this was sometimes used for the library. Gradually some necessary reference books such as sets of encyclopedias, an unabridged dictionary, histories, etc., as well as fiction, biographies, and reference books in all school subjects were added. In 1947 Mrs. Beulah Hanna was transferred from elementary to full time high school work. Having had some college work in library service, she was assigned the supervision of the library. Although she couldn't spend but one period a day in the library, with the help of student librarians, the library was open every period. In the early 1950s she was given a state grant to further prepare as a librarian. By going to Saturday classes and summers, she gradually qualified as a librarian. This enabled Sardis School to meet the requirements for a part time librarian that was required for high schools with small enrollment.

In a few years, with the help of money from the federally funded Title Money, state funds, skating funds (we had roller skating in summers for several years that brought in much money), and donations from the Sardis Book Club, Civic Club and P.T.A., we built up a library well equipped with up-to-date reference books, unabridged dictionaries, sets of several different encyclopedias, books in all the areas of library classification, and different reading levels of good fiction. The reference books and encyclopedias were kept up-to-date. Our library was as well stocked and as well kept as any school library in the county.

A good knowledge of the basics of English grammar -- sentence structure, a large vocabulary, how to express ideas in a concise yet interesting way -- is necessary for everyone even if they do not go to college. Also the mechanics of writing, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, footnotes, etc., are important. The English department has always tried to emphasize all of these and to do so in an interesting manner. Also, a knowledge of poetry and literature is broadening for anyone. Through dramatization, composing poetry, and various other activities the teachers have endeavored to create a love for reading. We've had quite a few teachers come and go in the English department during the 52 years of Sardis High School. Some stayed long periods of time. There is an advantage in this -- they learn what the strong and weak points of each student are. We were fortunate to have two teachers who spent a good many years teaching English here and who enjoyed teaching English. An enthusiastic teacher can better interest students.

Anyone who has taught knows that teaching English isn't just one hour per day. There is much time outside class periods spent with pupils who ask for assistance, beside the time spent correcting written work. But the reward of seeing students go on to college with the ability to handle English composition and term papers, to express their ideas in good sentences, and to speak correctly makes it worthwhile. And a great percentage of our students did go on to college and came home to say thanks that they were taught these things.

Also, in a small high school where you don't have a guidance counselor, the English teacher finds herself called upon to counsel seniors applying for scholarships, choosing careers or a college, and to assist in making the decisions that seniors have to make. All this is in addition to class time, but it is rewarding. I'm happy to record that from the late 1960s to 1984, Sardis had the advantage of a qualified counselor for one-half of the school day.

In the school year 1939-1940 we had our first hot lunches. They were federally funded. I wouldn't say that the lunches were all that we wanted them to be, but it was a warm lunch. It was better than a cold sack lunch. Mrs. Tiny Clenney and Miss Parlee Grissom were the cooks. Our new school building was under construction. So the lunches were served in the block building on Henderson Street. It is now a part of the late J. A. Medlin estate. They had very little cooking equipment. Lunch might be a bowl of white beans and cornbread. The next year we were in the new building and were better equipped to cook and serve meals. Finally the lunchroom supervisors set up workshops to train the cooks in nutritional requirements and how to plan menus. They then required that meals be planned several days ahead and that foods from each of the four nutrition groups be included in each day's menu. Milk was available at mid-morning and at lunch. Meals were improved and more pupils ate them. About 1950-1951 the requirements for menus were so much more that the cooks asked for help from the faculty in planning menus.

Naturally all heads turned toward the homemaking teacher. Thus the teacher, with assistance from the senior home economics class, began planning menus about two weeks ahead. Often the teacher did it alone if the class was involved in something they needed to get completed. Meals were planned around the commodities as near as possible in order to economize. The meals were balanced, nutritious meals, well cooked and warm when served. The kitchen was well equipped. The storage room had an adequate number of large freezers for perishable foods and shelves for neat storage of non-perishable foods.

The dining room was a cheery place with appropriate chairs and tables. The following is a list of all the cooks that we can recall or get (we are afraid that there are others that we haven't been able to get): Parlee Grissom, Tiny Clenney, Mrs. Johnson, Eunia McBride, Gertrude Montgomery, Flora Little, Estelle Holmes, Hattie Chalk, Tella Martin, Verma Young, Clyde Thompson, Cindy McBride, Lucille Millner, Marie Chalk, and Ethel McBride.

Robbie Smith was the first supervisor for the Sardis lunchroom. She was followed by Gail Benson who served until the school was moved to Southside and she is now supervisor at Southside.

Sardis Elementary School

Sardis has had grades one through eight ever since the first school was established in the 1800s until the school was consolidated with Reagan at Southside in July 1985. Over this period of time we have had numerous teachers. The ones that we can recall have previously been listed along with the high school teachers. From 1970 on, we had a kindergarten also. We had many dedicated elementary teachers. Some spent most of their teaching years teaching in the Sardis elementary grades. It would be impossible to estimate the good influence they have had on the lives of the young parents of our community today. We won't try to mention names here, but all who attended Sardis Elementary will recall some teachers who really influenced them. In high school they remembered to respect and did honor some teachers by dedicating a yearbook to them. Sardis Elementary School ranked along with the best in Henderson County because of the dedication of these teachers to the pupils and the community, and the good students they passed on to high school. Sardis community salutes our grade school teachers.

The basketball coaches and teams were a vital part of our grade school in the latter years of this period. Also everyone looked forward to the operettas that the elementary grades staged each spring, for many years.

When the money from the Federal Title Funds were made available to the school in the early 1960s, remedial classes were provided for pupils needing assistance in math and reading. These classes were available until 1985 when Sardis was sent to Southside. Remedial classes were essential for slow learners and in many instances really enabled the students to overcome their problems and gain self-confidence and go on with their regular classes.

Title funds also made it possible for schools to have office secretaries and teacher's aids. The first office secretary for Sardis School was Patricia Pruett. After a few years, she resigned to go to work in the Peoples Bank. She was replaced by Margaret Parker Brown. When Margaret went on to another job, Deborah Polk became secretary and served until 1985. She went on to work in the principal's office at Southside when Sardis School was moved there. The office secretary was a welcome addition to the school. Teacher's aides were also very much needed and were appreciated. The following served as aides at Sardis: Ann Pierce, Carra Nell Holland, Nell Phillips and Stephanie Ross.

In 1953 free textbooks were made available through state funds. This enabled every child to have his own textbook. We're sorry to say that, before then, some children were unable to secure every textbook they needed. Free textbooks aided the children to be better students and the teachers to do more effective teaching.

The custodian of the building is a vital necessity for any school. We want to recognize all the custodians that we can recall. They are Sam Frizzel, L. B. Landry, Erwin Meadors, Norman Montgomery, and Kenneth Millner.

In the late 1950s the students and faculty organized the Honor Club which was based on grades. In 1960 it was replaced by the Beta Club. The Beta Club required grades to be 90 or above. Most pupils looked forward to being accepted into the Beta Club. The Betas staged a play each year under the direction of a teacher/sponsor. They also looked forward to the annual Beta State Convention. The club also enjoyed a special banquet funded by the school each year, to honor it. Not all who would have liked to become a Beta Club member made it, but a good percentage did.

School Sports

Basketball was our chief sport. The school from its beginning has been proud of our "Blue Devils", both the boys' and girls' teams. The team that went to State in 1937 has been discussed elsewhere in this booklet. We have had many capable coaches who produced outstanding teams. But Mr. Mack Chandler was with us much longer than any other coach. Thus he had the opportunity to train teams. Being an enthusiastic person naturally, he could generate enthusiasm in his players and the fans. The community supported our teams at home games and went with them to other places that they played. He had several good teams. In his contribution to the school history he discussed the basketball teams.

Mr. Chandler wasn't only a sports enthusiast but, as a principal, he was very much interested in the total school program. He expected the best from his teachers and treated them in a way that made them want to do their best. He could draw out the best in both the faculty and the students. Because he believed in the students, they tried and did accomplish more than they ever thought that they could. Discipline in the school didn't seem to be a problem for him. The community felt a loss when he left.

We asked Mr. Chandler to sum up his thirteen years here as the principal. Here, in his own words, is what he gave for our History of Sardis School.

Contribution by Mack Chandler

"I am going to try to state some of the facts of my ten years at Sardis School in the ‘50s and ‘60s. I came to Sardis in 1957. That was my first experience as a school administrator and really I wasn't that sure what I was going to do. I had stepped into a situation where there was a community just aching to move forward. So I, being young and energetic at that time, tried to fill this need for leadership. I had some awfully good help and it's very important that this be put in, just as I say it. I recall that Mrs. Beulah Hanna told me that what the school needed was a good public relations program, for the school needed more students. As the school had no secretary at that time, and I was very green about a lot of school records that had to be kept, and school lunch programs, etc., Mrs. Beulah said she would look after keeping the records and fulfill the secretarial part of the school if I would get out and do something to get people to send their students to Sardis. So off we started. As I recall in the spring of ‘58, we went on a class trip and found that the kids liked to roller skate. So we started a roller skating program at Sardis and made several thousand dollars and we used some of that money to buy land on which to build a baseball field. The community got behind that program and some donated time, others donated timber for logs. Different people took their chain saws and trucks, and cut and hauled the logs to the sawmill. The sawmill gave the sawing bill. The community worked together until the field was completed. It was ready in time to play baseball in the summer of ‘59, I believe.

"The community was really proud of their ballpark, and large crowds came to watch the baseball games. We had a good independent baseball team that the community took great pride in. Then we started a little league program using kids from all the neighboring communities. After this we started what we call the 3-S League made up of Sardis, Saltillo, and Scotts Hill. We got that going during the school year. During the fall and in the spring we had a good high school baseball program. We competed against other schools and were successful in that. Over a period of years, we started a summer league called the Dixie Program. We used teenage boys up to about 18 years of age. We used boys from our school and neighboring communities. They played on the same team. We took a lot of pride in that team. We went to the state tournament a year or two. We continued to use the baseball park to help get students. We did get numerous transfers and this enabled us to add more courses to our curriculum. We had, because of a lack of students, to combine some classes; that is, grades 7-8 in some subjects, grades 9-10, and grades 11-12 in some subjects. With these new students we had classes for each grade and in some classes, like high school English classes, we even had two sections of the same grade. This made for more effective teaching and a stronger program.

"We roller skated in the gym for the next two or three summers, thus making quite a bit of money. We then bought things our school needed that we were unable to get money from the county to buy. Everyone working together made it possible to have a stronger school program. While I'm on athletics, I'll mention that we had real good basketball teams several different years during that 10-year period. But our best year was in 1966 when we went to the state tournament. And of course, having good basketball teams helped put a focus on Sardis School and that drew some transfers, and at the risk of sounding repetitious, we were working for more students. All these things that we did to attract students just made our school that much stronger.

"Now I'd like to mention that our P.T.A. was real strong. It worked continually to raise money to buy things that we needed to carry on a good school program. One outstanding contribution that was made to the school was, I think, in the fall of 1962 when Hardin County consolidated Saltillo High School with Savannah. Saltillo was so near Sardis that it wanted to come to Sardis instead of riding a bus so many hours each day to go to Savannah. But at that time Hardin County wouldn't allow a Henderson County bus to come into Saltillo. It appeared that we were not going to be able to get these students that we so desperately needed. We called a P.T.A. meeting to talk to them about the situation and somone mentioned buying a bus. To make a long story short, the P.T.A. voted to buy a school bus and to furnish the gas and other expenses to operate it if someone would drive it. I volunteered to drive it. I drove the bus for a little over a year. That turned out to be one of the biggest tasks I had while I was at Sardis. I'm not sure I would do that again. But it was a break for us as we got around 50 students. We had a full bus load. With that group and some other new students we were able to add three more teachers. After I had driven the bus over a year, Hardin County agreed to let a Henderson County bus come into Saltillo and that took care of that situation. We continued to get all those students and that really was the key that made Sardis School so much stronger. These new students being added also took care of another situation. For a number of years there had been talk of closing Sardis School. But in this 10-year period with the community working so hard to improve the school, the County Board of Education finally voted a sizable amount of money to remodel the agriculture department and, as I recall, to also remodel the lunchroom and to repair the school building. With these improvements and the extra students, the talk of closing the school died down at this time. During this ten years I spent at Sardis as principal and basketball coach, I found that the entire community seemed to focus around the school. In all my years of coaching and serving as a school administrator, I've never worked with a group of people who were so willing to work and who were so caring. I had heard the expression made during this time that if anyone ever stayed in Sardis long enough to wear out a pair of shoes, they would never completely leave Sardis. I found this to be true in the school year of 1967-1968. On a Saturday I was interviewed by Riverside authorities in regard to going to Riverside and I accepted. The next day -- Sunday morning in church -- it hit me just what I had done. I was leaving Sardisl I sat there in church and bawled like a baby. But of course, people do adjust and I made the adjustment to Riverside alright. But getting back to the pair of shoes, if you ever wear out a pair shoes in Sardis, you will never completely leave there. This proved true with me. In spring of 1981, I retired from teaching and thought I was through with teaching. But the principal at Sardis took a leave of absence in November 1981. Several people of Sardis called me, wanting me to come back and serve them as their principal. After much consideration, I accepted and returned to Sardis in November 1981. The threat of closing Sardis School had by now become close to a reality. I spent the next three years as principal at Sardis. They did close the high school in 1984. It was a very severe blow to the community because it took away something they had rallied around always, something they had had for all their lives. It really was a sad thing. They did leave the elementary school until the end of the 1985 school year. Sardis no longer has a school. Without a school, Sardis won't be quite the same. But they will adjust. Nothing will ever replace the school and, personally, I feel that there is still a place for the small school in the American educational s

Photograph, This Team Went to State Tournament in 1966

Danny Johnson came to us at the beginning of school year 1969-1970 as principal and coach, and stayed until November 1981. He was young and inexperienced as a high school administrator, but he became an efficient principal. And, under his coaching, the school continued to have good basketball teams. As always the community supported the teams and accompanied them to other places they played. He was interested very much in the quality of our teaching. He was careful to encourage his teachers often, making suggestions when we sought his help. The school, under his administration, continued to turn out graduates that the community was proud of. Mr. Johnson took a leave of absence in November 1981 to go into the State Educational Department. He still makes his home here and commutes to his office in Jackson, Tennessee. The following was written by Mr. Johnson to be included in the history of Sardis School. We asked him to contribute to the history of Sardis School because he was one of the two principals who stayed at Sardis School a long period of time. We are pleased that he and his family still prefer to make Sardis their home even though they both are working elsewhere.

Contribution by Danny Johnson

"I had the opportunity to serve the fine community of Sardis in the role of principal and basketball coach from August 1969 through October 1981.

"In 1969, Mr. G. T. Stewart was the county school superintendent and the late Bon Hayes and Mr. Billy Woody were the school board members. Later Mr. Larry Creasey was elected as our board member and was followed by Mr. Willie Milan, who is presently serving in that capacity. Following Mr. Stewart as superintendent was Mr. Jerry Graves and later Dr. Kenneth Houston who remains in that position presently.

"The years from 1969 through 1981 were productive but trying years, in that our enrollment was small and in many cases it was difficult to maintain the variety of courses needed in high school. Educational funding was always a problem in that we were a small high school and seemed to often be overlooked. It was a real chore to keep our buildings meeting the fire code.

"This lack of continued upgrading was the primary factor in leading to the closing of our school in 1985. This was a tragic loss to our community.

"The years following 1969 were very productive as evidenced by the excellent quality of our student body, faculty and parental involvement. The major thrust we pursued above all else was academic excellence. This effort was realized when you look at the quality of our graduates today and the number of academic honors that have been awarded our students. This was made possible primarily due to a truly professional and dedicated faculty, as well as many cooperating parents and community support.

"We had many secondary benefits that came our way in basketball and baseball competition. We had the honor of competing in district, regional and state competition with many individuals receiving all-star honors at each level.

"After having the opportunity to travel across our great state since 1981 and visit many schools, I realize even more that what we had and lost in our community can never be replaced.

"I love the teaching profession and I urge everyone to continue supporting education. This is truly the best investment we can make.

"I am very proud of the years I spent at Sardis High School. The Sardis community is truly a great place to live and raise a family. May God richly bless this entire community during this 1986 Homecoming year. This is my prayer."

Agriculture Department

Sardis has always been proud of its agriculture department and has appreciated it. We have been fortunate to have many dedicated and qualified teachers in this department. As the agriculture teachers have been previously mentioned with other teachers, we'll not name them here. Several of the teachers had night classes for adults which were well attended. The aim of these classes was to assist the farmers in finding answers to some of their problems and to make them aware of new ideas for farming. At times, the teacher would take his class to a farm to give them actual experience in pruning fruit trees, grape vines, etc. They also set out young trees, one to two years old, in fields to aid in stopping erosion. The department was called on often to advise in landscaping lawns and pruning shrubs. Shop work was a vital part of the agriculture program also.

We couldn't contact everyone who had taught in this department but we decided to ask a teacher that recently retired, after teaching here for 23 years, to say something about this department. The following is his reply in his own words:

Contributed by Manuel Pipkin

"November 2, 1959, I came to Sardis High School as a vocational agriculture teacher. Along with the regular vocational program, I started the Future Farmers of America program which had been inactive in prior years at the high school.

"The Sardis FFA chapter competed in local, district, regional, West Tennessee, and state contests until I retired in 1982. The Sardis chapter won many awards and was always well represented in all contests and meetings on the local, district, West Tennessee, and state bases."

In addition to this, the vocational department worked with other departments of the school and community in the advancement of education."

We realize it would be a difficult job to mention all students that have contributed toward making the Sardis vocational department a good department. On the other hand, we want to mention some students that excelled in contests and other departmental activities while attending Sardis High School. They are Steve Holland, Joel Pipkin, Ted Wade, Terry Funderburk, Melvin Montgomery, Richard Holland, Ted Phillips, Robert Doyle, Dale Ross, Bobby Wallace, Jimmy Wallace, David Ross, Benny Doyle, Phil Robertson, Gene Robertson, Jimmy Wright, Davis Willis, Jeff Pipkin, Johnny Bridges, Lanny Redding, Darryl Presley, Danny Tucker, Richard Conaway, Tommy Smith, Mitzie Pipkin, Jimmy Kelley, Marty Phillips, Randy Hart, Donna Bivens, Michelle Pipkin, Denise Grooms, Ricky Blankenship, Debbie Greasy, Sissy Blankenship, Don Conaway, Steve Millner, Jim Hehe, Bruce Hayes, Mike Austin, Joe Benson, and Danny Wright.

Teachers Who Have Retired While Teaching at Sardis

We have offered all teachers who have retired while teaching at Sardis the opportunity to contribute to the history of Sardis School. The following is a list of these teachers: Mrs. Lois Hayes, who is very ill at this time and unable to respond; the late Mrs. Ruby Hanna; Richard Brazzell; Mrs. Beulah Hanna; Mrs. Ruth Vandyke; Mrs. Oren Benson; Mrs. Norma Willis; Manuel Pipkin; Mrs. Charlotte Long; and Mrs. Montyrue Gurley.

The following are the responses that we received from this offer:

Mrs. Charlotte Long

"It is always a privilege to be asked to recall pleasant memories. The year I started teaching at Sardis was in some ways really a most traumatic year for me. My home burned, my car was totalled, and I fell and fractured by back.

"I had only taught the elementary grades one year and that was in a one-room school. But for God's help and the love and support I received, I would never have made it. I was fortunate to have good Christian men as principals while I was teaching at Sardis. The people of Sardis were all so loving and kind to everyone. I was reared in Memphis where this concern for people was not as evident as it was in Sardis. The years that I taught in Sardis were a rare experience and I am grateful for it."

J. R. Brazzell

"When I started to recall my 36 years of teaching or any pan of it, my golden years spent at Sardis came first. Why first? Because it was at Sardis I had my most pleasant years of teaching. And it was there that I did the most good. Above all, it was there that both fellow teachers and pupils were so very nice to me.

"About the time I became established in the school at Sardis, a vacancy occurred in the bank at Scotis Hill. A very close friend of mine led me to believe the position in the bank would be easier for me than teaching. So I accepted the position in the bank.

"Sometime during the first year at the bank I reached the point where I just couldn't stand it any longer. I just had to see the children at school even if it was for just a few minutes. So, as soon as I could, I went to visit Sardis School. As soon as I parked the car on Sardis School grounds, five or six little girls from Mrs. Ruth Vandyke's room came running to meet me and told me how glad they were to see me. I was glad to see them too. As I went up the steps, a girl standing at the entrance to the building said to me, ‘Oh, Mr. Brazzell, why did you leave us? I wanted so much to be in your room this yearl' This, and the other greetings, caused me to realize that I had made the wrong choice. So, in a short time, I resigned at the bank and returned to Sardis School to teach. The teachers and pupils have continued to always be kind and good to me, even since I retired."

Mrs. Beulah Hanna

"As a retired teacher of Sardis School, I'm happy to have the opportunity to try to express what it has meant to me to be a teacher in Sardis School. I can't really express all it has meant to me, but I can give you some idea. I taught for a great many years and loved teaching. It was hard work with a low salary and it had its problems. But any profession has its problems. The rewards continue on and on, even after you retire.

I did most of my teaching in Sardis School. I taught at some one-room schools before I began teaching at Sardis. I was in Sardis Elementary until the end of school year 1946-1947. The Board of Education moved me into high school at the beginning of school year 1947-1948. I remained in high school until I became of retirement age in 1970. These many years were happy, busy years. Since I was here so many years I saw many principals and teachers come and go. I am glad to say that I enjoyed a good relationship with each of them. Many boys and girls passed through my classes from year to year. I have no idea how many. I loved and enjoyed them. It's not until the students grow up and become men and women that a teacher learns how much he or she has influenced them. They don't realize it themselves until then. Many take time, years later, to tell you and express appreciation. Not many of us teachers realized what part we were playing in the development of the character of our students. Teaching is both a great opportunity and an awesome responsibility.

"Many of my cherished friends are former pupils and former coteachers. I treasure every one of them.

"Since I taught home economics and senior English every year, and any other classes that I taught were mainly composed of seniors, I formed a close relationship with the members of the senior class each year. What I have missed most these 16 years that I have been retired is the association with the students. As a result of teaching here so long, I taught the children and, in some cases, the grandchildren of many of my students that I had the first few years at Sardis. I can truly say that this community has really been good to me. It has always shown me great care and respect. Many parents down through the years took time to express appreciation for the extra help that I gave when a student needed it. I think every teacher gives extra help to students who need it. The many years that I spent in Sardis School were happy, busy ones. The rewards have been great. I would say to beginning teachers -- give your best and then don't be too discouraged if it seems that a few are not getting much. Just keep trying to reach them. Years later, you will probably get a letter or a phone call or meet up with these very pupils and they will express appreciation to you for your patience with them and how much it encouraged them. They many times get more and remember more than we realize. I've had many such expressions of appreciation and I'm sure all other teachers who taught a lifetime have. The greatest reward is watching pupils grow intellectually and go on to become useful, successful citizens and to feel that maybe you had a little part in helping them to become who they are."

Mrs. Lois Hayes and Mrs. Ruby Hanna

Mrs. Hayes, as said previously, is very ill at the time of this writing. Ruby is deceased. Both were warm, friendly people. They both taught several years at Sardis and contributed much to the school, their churches, and the community. They are especially remembered for their kind and caring lives.

Mrs. Ruth Vandyke and Mrs. Norma Willis

"We are citizens of Sardis and members of families who were older settlers here. As retired teachers, we would like to share with the reader a few memoirs of Sardis High School from 1941 to 1981.

"For many years, at the end of a school term, the children performed in an operetta. This involved lots of practice periods with all children. Many parents and teachers cooperated in making the costumes.

"On the night of the performance the crowd was huge with almost perfect attendance of parents and citizens. The reward was in the children's achievement and our accomplishment of a task.

"In the spring the garden and flower seeds arrived. Now, children are the most eager salespeople. Every hand would be raised to sell a box, unless perhaps a tired parent had warned the child, ‘Don't you bring any seed home.' Often the parent bought the seed to encourage the child. The money was used always for many needed materials in the room.

"Getting immunizations in the school was done by the Health Department for many years. We can still see the somber expressions and, yes, even tears as the nurse with the needle faced them.

"The singing period for both classrooms was held periodically. At this time, shyness suddenly vanished and everybody opened up and sang, in and out of tune. Often it was with wrong words used which sounded correct to the children. For example, one year while singing Christmas songs, we were on the song, Up On the House Top, and came to the words, ‘who wouldn't go,' and we heard one little strong voiced boy say clearly, ‘who would ju know.' This was free fun for us.

"Parents heard stories of teachers and teachers heard amusing home stories. One morning, while settling in for a class, a second grade fellow announced clearly, ‘My daddy came home last night. He went off with a woman, but Mama ‘cided to try him one more time.'

"Several years ago, pheasants were brought to this end of the county but not to be killed by hunters. One day, while talking about food, one little boy piped up, ‘We had pheasant and gravy for breakfast.'

"Another child, at the same time, remarked, ‘We had ham.' When asked if it was good, she replied, ‘I don't know, my daddy ate the ham and we ate the gravy.'

"Some little boys rushed up to me at recess one day exclaiming, ‘Miss Norma, Barry is cussing.' When I asked the hesitant little fellow, he looked at me so cute with his sparkling brown eyes and replied, ‘Yeah, I did, but I've got it to quit ‘fer if I don't, my daddy's gonna whoop me.'

"A preschool child had visited in the room several times and left at will, going to his grandparents' nearby. The next year, on entering the first grade, someone asked him, ‘Gary, how do you like Miss Ruth?' He solemnly answered, ‘I don't know. She's gettin' awful bossy.'

"In many honorable fields are success stories of students who attended Sardis High School. They have helped make the Sardis History. We would like to think that perhaps we may have had a part in their success as they came our way in Sardis."

Mrs. Oren Benson

"I started teaching at Sardis in 1956 and taught until 1974. I enjoyed teaching and learned to love my boys and girls. I called them my children, and I still feel very close to each one of them. The children were nice to me and parents were also. That makes teaching pleasant. I taught part of fifth grade and all of the sixth grade almost every year. Lois Hayes taught the fourth grade and the other part of the fifth grade. We had playground duty at the same period and were good friends. My sister, Ruby Hanna, taught in a room adjoining me most of the time. I missed her so when she had to retire early because of her health. She passed away in 1983. I had a good relationship with all teachers and enjoyed them. Sardis was a wonderful place to teach. I have many good memories of my teaching there. I hope that I helped each of my pupils in some way and that they have a good life. Years ago we had daily devotions. Pupils would take turns reading the Bible and saying a prayer in their own way. Both I and the pupils looked forward to that period. We also took our turn with the other rooms in doing a program for our weekly chapel when the whole school came together for 30 or 4.0 minutes. But that was done away with.

"We also enjoyed doing crafts at intervals. Even the boys enjoyed doing some of the crafts. One little boy who had a broken leg and couldn't be active, made a crocheted doily. He is a man now but he still has it. They drew pictures, carved and did painting, and this age enjoyed programs before groups. They especially enjoyed doing a program for P.T.A. meetings.

"This age is also a very active age and enjoyed all sorts of games on the playground. They jumped ropes, had races, just anything we could think of. I enjoyed them. They were such a happy bunch. Each bunch of children I had were usually about the same in that they were happy and active."

Although our high school was consolidated with other schools at the end of school year 1983-1984, the elementary school was allowed to remain one more year. That was until the end of school year 1984-1985. Mrs. Janet Presley was principal that year and a very good one. She also taught most classes of grades 7 and 8. In the summer of 1984 she took computer training and thus grades 7 and 8 had classes in computers just as other Henderson County elementary schools did. The teachers of 1984-1985 went all out to make that year especially good in every way. The eighth grade had graduation exercises and built a yearbook. In previous years they had just shared in the high school yearbook.

The teachers, secretary and P.T.O. raised funds by selling Stanley products and by donations from individuals, and a very welcomed donation of $750.00 from the Modern Woodmen to have the large framed pictures of the graduation classes and faculties from 1941 to 1984 made into a wall mounted graduation composite. The P.T.O. finished out the required amount of $2,100.00. They secured permission to place it in the lobby of the new Sardis-Reagan school building known as Southside. The community and alumni of Sardis High School should be grateful to these wonderful people who made this possible and who cared enough to get it done, for the pictures can be preserved there. They also, near the end of the school year, gave a special luncheon for all teachers who had retired while teaching at Sardis. These teachers and the community appreciated this very much.

That our school was taken from us was a blow. Many still question the idea that it is the best for the students. Sardis has had setbacks before. We are not taking this lying down. True, the school had been our chief interest always. It saddened everyone very much. It's still hard for many to think of it without some bitterness. But the community is determined to put this behind us and are giving the new school at Southside our full support, for our children and youth are our future heritage. The community is now doing all it can to support Southside School for it is also our school now. They are just as determined to improve our town. It seems that now that we have lost our school, our focus is on improvement for Sardis community. A great civic interest has emerged especially among our younger men and women -- the young parents. They are working together to build up pride in the community and improve the image of the town in every way. The school building, gym and baseball park are being used by the community as a whole. Mr. and Mrs. Van Carter and Mr. and Mrs. Billy Duck have taken responsibility for the gym. They are sponsoring roller skating one night each week and have been for several months. They bought skates to rent or to sell. A fee is charged at the door plus a fee if they rent skates. The crowds are from a radius of 15 to 20 miles around Sardis. Attendance ranges from 100 up each night. They have already made enough money to pay for skates, to make necessary repairs in the gym and have the roof repaired and still have a bank account. Other couples have volunteered to help. They are organized so that no one couple has to be there every week. If the couple or couples scheduled for a certain night can't go, they contact the Carters or the Ducks so that arrangements can be made with another couple to be there. Besides skating regularly one night a week in the gym, the young adults of the community and nearby neighborhoods use the gym for volleyball one night a week. On Sunday afternoons recent high school graduates are playing basketball. Presently they have six churches from Sardis and churches nearby that have occasional nights scheduled for skating parties. These groups pay a fixed price for each time they use the gym. The gym is also rented for birthday parties, etc. The two couples who are responsible for managing the gym arrange for someone to be present to open the gym and to close at a certain time for these groups. A deputy sheriff is on call or present when the gym is opened for skating. The primary goal for beginning skating was to furnish local activity for the youth of the community and other nearby communities, but they actually have a welcome by-product. They have a bank account to apply on expenses of equipping the city park. They hope to continue adding to this bank account. The town has bought acreage adjoining the baseball park and the schoolground on which to make a city park. They have already had engineers survey it and draw up plans as to where to place the pavilion, playground equipment and other things necessary to a park. We are pleased to say that our community is looking forward to working together to improve the town and community and focusing its interest and energy on the future.

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