Robbins School Has Rich History
(EDITOR’S NOTE — The following history was prepared for publication in the Robbins High School Student Handbook for 1962-1963, and updated with assistance from the current school principal, Donald Branim.)
Before 1906, the children in Robbins went to school in an unpainted one room building on the lot where LAWRENCE KLINE’s house now stands. The school ran four or five months a year. Then the children attended a subscription school for a few months in the basement of the Congregational Church.
In 1905 and 1906, some of the town’s leading citizens, among whom were the Reverend ERNEST JONES, the Congregational minister; M. J. ROBBINS; and JASPER HUGHETT, started a movement to secure a high school for the second district of the county. In 1906, a white frame building with three rooms and a hail, was built on the present school grounds. This school was called the Robbins High School, but the highest grade at that time was the fifth grade, no student being ready for high school. All grades from the primary through the fifth grade at that time were taught in this one building by three teachers. The first principal, a Mr. BAILEY, resigned at the end of four or five months. The big boys were too tough for him.
The second principal was JOHN WILLIS DAVIS from Houstonville, Kentucky. Mr. DAVIS, his wife, and Mr. KIRK NEWPORT, and later Miss ROWENA WALKER were the teachers for many years. The influence of these four great teachers has come down to our today’s young middle-aged people through their parents and teachers who were pupils of these early teachers.
When the fourth teacher was added, a brick building with two rooms was built near the first building.
Mr. DAVIS, as principal until 1917, built the school, educationally, grade by grade, until he had a class ready to graduate from high school in 1915. The five graduates in 1915 were WILLARD WALKER, GEORGE HUGHETT, MAT REED, ZORA GOAD, and ALONZO BYRD. To Mr. DAVIS belongs the credit for developing the school into a high school. However, he could not get the state Department of Education to recognize the school as a first-class high school because he himself did not have a college degree. He had studied medicine two years and law two years. The classes that graduated in 1915, 1916 and 1917, received high school certificates.
The class that graduated in 1918 was the first one to receive diplomas. Mr. WILLIAM E. BOHANNON, with a Master of Arts degree, became the principal in the year 1917-1918. Then the State Department of Education recognized Robbins High School as a first-class high school. The class of 1918 had eighteen graduates. They were GEORGE BOLES, HORACE and ETHEL HUGHETT, TED, ETHEL and LINK WALKER, JOHN LEE and REBECCA WEST, JAMES BABCOCK, HELEN OTT, ROBERTA ADAMS, ETTA and HETTIE BOSS, EZRA and CHARLEY GRIFFITH, JOHN WEST, LOREN RAINS and NORA KLINE.
The principals, following Mr. BOHANNON, were Mr. STEVENS, 1918-1919; WILLARD WALKER, 1919-1921 (two years); and Mr. FOOCHEE, 1921-1922.
In the fall of 1922, ROBERT R. VANCE, a lieutenant in World Wan and a graduate of the University of Tennessee, became principal. At this time a new school building, the present elementary school building, was under construction and was finished in time for the next school year. Both elementary and high school grades were moved into this new brick building and the two old buildings were torn down. Mr. VANCE left Robbins in 1927, after five years as principal, to become the state high school supervisor.
Mr. WHEELER was principal in 1927-1928, and Mr. SHEFFEY in 1928-1929, one year each. Mr. OLSON PEMBERTON was principal for six years, 1929 to 1935. Mr. EDWARD STANLEY was principal two years, from 1935 to 1937.
Mr. OSWELL S. SEXTON was principal for seven years: from 1938 to 1942 and from 1943 to 1946. Mr. JOHN JEFFERS was principal for one year, 1942-1943.
Shortly after Mr. VANCE came to Robbins a frame gymnasium building was erected behind the brick building. This building was instrumental in developing a more adequate athletic program for the school. This building burned in 1942.
Mr. MALVIN SEXTON, a captain in World War II and a graduate of T.P.I. and U.T., was principal from 1948-1955, seven years.
Mr. 1955 to 1961, Mr. A. V. ELLIS was principal of the school, with the exception of one years leave-of-absence when Mr. TASKEL W. WELCH was principal, 1956-1957. Mr. ELLIS was principal, 1961-1962, but left before the year was out to accept a position as Education Officer at Hunter Air Force Base, Savannah, Georgia. Mr. WELCH became principal at that time.
In 1971-72, the Norma High School, Huntsville High School and Robbins High School were consolidated into Scott High School. TASKEL WELCH transferred to Scott High School as its first principal.
JAMES WALKER became principal of the Robbins Elementary School and served as such through the 1985-86 school year.
DONALD BRANIM assumed the principal’s position in 1986-1987, and is currently serving as such.
Major building renovations have included the old two-story structure being torn down. A new office, library and cafeteria have been added, in addition to several new modern classrooms and the gymnasium also underwent major renovations in the 1980s.
FNB Chronicle, Vol. 7, No. 4 – Summer 1996
First National Bank
P.O. Box 4699
Oneida, TN 37841
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