Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Lifestyles

May 22, 2014

A homecoming: HES celebrates 75th anniversary

CROSSVILLE — Homestead Elementary School (HES) celebrated its 75th anniversary May 12 with an assembly of speakers and a then-and-now presentation, as well as a massive display from each grade depicting the school’s history and heritage and tours of the school.

Bulldog cheerleaders dressed in their uniforms handed out programs to guests and visitors. Distinguished and honored Bulldogs of past generations spoke of fond memories of attending school at HES or working there and, in some cases, both.

After Principal Robin Pinder gave the welcome address, a PowerPoint presentation gave a pictorial history and comparison on Homestead community values transcending throughout the school throughout the years. Patty Payne came in dressed like Eleanor Roosevelt and eloquently spoke in true Eleanor style, reminiscent of the First Lady’s visit to the Homesteads in July 1934, praising the progress and fortitude of the Homesteaders.

Mayor J.H. Graham III, who lives in the Homestead home he was born in and is a Homestead alumnus, said, “Homestead School’s mission is to teach our children the things they need to know to live. This is Bulldog country. I am a Homestead Bulldog.”

Dr. Keen Inman noted how special it was to be able to have been a part of the Homestead family and how proud she was to have had the opportunity to send her children to the HES, where her husband, whose family were original Homesteaders, attended.

Aarona VanWinkle, who served as principal of HES for 15 years, said, “Here at Homestead we have love for each other, love for family, love for God and love for the community. Education is the greatest gift the community could give its children, and that is why the community built this school. I realize how fortunate I was to have worked in a community that values education as much as Homestead does.”

Emma Jean Vaden’s father was one of the 25 applicants chosen to become an original Homesteader and spoke of the invaluable training he received as a result of that blessing and how it changed the course of their lives. Having been a Homestead School cheerleader, Vaden thanked the cheerleaders for helping in the celebration and recited a cheer from her Homestead School days.

In 1934, Floyd Gore moved to Homestead and attended the old school. In 1938, when the new Homestead School had been completed, all the students referred to it as the “new school.” To him it is still the “new school” and he expressed his sentiments of pride at having been able to attend.

Jack Chadwell shared his memories about his mother dropping him off for his first day of first grade at Homestead School in 1951, and he was none too pleased about it.

“She said, ‘You will learn so much at the Homestead School.’ And she was right,” said Chadwell. “I got a good education at Homestead School. It was an experience that influenced me for a lifetime.”

Homestead has a tradition of rewarding its extraordinary eighth graders with the coveted Lyndon Pippin Award. Pippin served as the principal of the school for 18 years, and every year the award is presented to a graduating eighth grade student who emulates Pippin’s work ethic and character. Previous recipients Brian Houston, Dr. Shannon Shelley and Ivy Turner were introduced and gave testimonials about the compliment of the high honor.

“I’ve received many awards in my life, but this one I have never forgotten the name of,” said Dr. Shannon Shelley, who was the Lyndon Pippen Award winner in 1990. “This award represents to me a reminder of how much I’m loved and that someone was proud of me.”

Shelley went on to explain that when she received any other awards her uncle, who is like a father to her, would tell her, “Well, that’s something! But it’s not a Lyndon Pippin Award!” From there it has been a special inside joke for them, as well as a symbol of love and pride and accomplishment.

The Cumberland County Board of Education chairman, Dr. Charles Tollett, explained that his mother was on the Homesteads' selection board to dutifully select the families who would become the original Homesteaders in Cumberland County. Tollett said she looked for people of character and determination. He encouraged the audience to treasure their Homestead stories, saying, “These stories are what keeps us alive. They are reminders and help us connect the past to the present for the future.” 

Cumberland County Director of Schools Donald Andrews took pleasure in the stories, history and traditions of the Cumberland Homesteads and Homestead School. He challenged current and future students and parents alike to come prepared in all they do.

Robin Pinder, HES principal, recognized teachers and staff who have collectively devoted 1,084 years of service to HES. Pinder invited everyone to look at all the classroom displays depicting 75 years of Homestead history and to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to talk with the honored guests, who among them were the first to attend HES when it opened in 1938. Concluding the presentation, Pinder then cheered, “Here’s to the next 75 years! Go Bulldogs!”

The themed classroom projects included wonderfully made historical dioramas, “Why I Love My School” essays, illustrations, poetry, a memorabilia collection, memory quilt, an acrostic poster and a mix of technology and creativity for the pictorial slideshows on laptops coinciding with informative posters.  

Ron Pulley, director of the Cumberland County Archives, was excited to display information he recovered regarding Homestead Elementary School and share it at the school's 75th anniversary/homecoming. George Oliver was in the class of 1946. His father, Major George L. Oliver, was the community manager (project manager) of the Homesteads, while his son attended junior high and his freshman years at the school. He said he attended many schools because of the nature of his father’s occupation in the military. But, he fondly remembers HES and said of all the schools he attended, about 15, Homestead was his favorite.

The Homestead homecoming event was such a special day to have added into the plush history of the Homesteads community and a privilege to share in it.

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