Created by khardy on Apr 30, 2013
Last updated: 04/30/13 at 09:24 PM
Birchwood School through the years has no followers yet. Be the first one to follow.
The final bell will ring on Birchwood at the conclusion of the 2012-13 school year because of dwindling enrollment and the desire to operate more efficient school buildings. Most Birchwood students will travel about 20 miles south to Ooltewah Elementary. This class of fifth-graders will be the last to complete the elementary years at Birchwood.
A rural community, Birchwood was and remains a tight-knit place where everyone knows everyone. Darwin Lane, included in this photo, said members of his class continued to reunite through 2011, some 60 years after they graduated in 1951. "It was small," Lane said. "And there's just something about small schools." Lane's brother taught at Birchwood briefly. And it's at this school where he met his wife of 58 years.
Many families have called Birchwood, both the area and school, home for generations. Pictured here are three generations of Birchwood students. Braley Moorehead, her mother Felicia, and grandmother Beverley Roark, from left, sit on a bench in the school's entryway. Felicia Moorehead attended school here and returned to teach in 2000. Her children, parents and grandparents all went here. "It feels like I'm going to be with family a lot of times when I go to work," she said.
In 1997, Birchwood adds a preschool component and sees steady growth in enrollment. The school eventually swells to include two teachers in each grade level. Along with growth came the addition of several after-school programs, a leveled-book room, music classes, a photography dark room and a science lab.
Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Don Loftis moves to eliminate grades six, seven and eight from Birchwood as the county transitioned away from junior highs and toward middle schools. Birchwood's middle grade students were then sent to Hunter Middle School in Ooltewah. This yearbook excerpt shows middle grades band students in the 1990s.
Birchwood's 26 seniors in 1976 are the last high school students to graduate from the school. Superintendent Dale Carter made the decision to eliminate the high school program and instead send those students to Central High on Highway 58. The decision leaves Birchwood a K-8 school.
The school gets a new portable building in 1973 to house a new kindergarten program. But Birchwood didn't last long as a K-12 school.
In the first school yearbook, published in 1951, three student activities were featured: Future Farmers of America, Senior 4-H and Junior 4-H. Originally, basketball was the only school sport, though other teams were later added. Athletic teams became known as the Birchies early on, though students later elected to be called the Birchwood Braves.
Like its teachers and families, several Birchwood principals served long stretches at Birchwood. Up until its closing, the school displayed portraits of all former principals on its walls. Pictured here is Jasper M. Bare, who led the school from 1920 to 1945. Before him, K.K. Newport served as head of school. Benjamin H. Gross was the first principal.
The county rebuilds a new red brick school on Highway 60. Men hauled rocks from fields and a nearby lake to construct the rock wall out front. This building will serve as a school for more than 80 years, up until Birchwood's closing in 2013.
An overheated boiler sparks a fire that destroys the original school building.
Eight students make up the first graduating class from this country school, which educated students from first grade through the senior year of high school. Class of 1922 graduates included: Chester Bower, Delmas Friddell, Neil Friddell, Velma Gass, Mary Newell, Dewey Roark, Tom Smith and Margaret Thatch. Pictured is a rendering of the school's alma mater.
James County disbands and this territory folds into Hamilton County. Thus, Birchwood School begins its 90-plus year history as part of the Hamilton County school system.
James County builds a white-framed, two-room schoolhouse, which serves mostly farming families. The original structure is erected at the corner of DeFriese Road and Highway 60.