Madison Elementary celebrates 75th anniversary
BY GREGG L. PARKER SPECIAL TO THE RECORD
That’s the tag that Superintendent Dr. Dee Fowler gave to Madison Elementary School at its 75th birthday celebration.
A crowd of about 300 former teachers, employees and students, along with current school families and politicians, gathered in the gym for opening remarks for the birthday open house.
Fowler compared Madison Elementary School’s tenacity to Madison’s transformation from sleepy, cotton town to the tenth largest city in Alabama. “What has remained constant is Madison Elementary School at the corner of College and Sullivan streets,” he said.
“Adaptability … if you can’t change, you will break,” Fowler said.
Event coordinator Cindi Sanderson explained the school’s varied history. Around the turn of the century, Madison Training School was moved from Church Street to the land on College Street.
In 1936, a grant from the Public Works Administration and funds from the Madison County Board of Education were used to build Madison High School, which had 224 elementary and 83 high school students.
The original building had 11 classrooms, two restrooms and an auditorium/gymnasium combination, Sanderson said.
By 1951, enrollment had decreased, and grades 10-12 were shifted to Butler High School. Madison School, as residents referred to it, changed to a junior high.
“On Dec. 7, 1972, grades 9-11 at Madison were named ‘Bob Jones High School.’ This group remained at Madison School until the new Bob Jones building was ready for occupancy,” Sanderson said.
Fowler also reminisced about coaching, decades ago, at games between Hazel Green and Madison in the combination gymnasium and auditorium. About ten years ago, the space was converted to the school library, which retains the original hardwood floors of the gym.
Dr. Timothy Scott, the school’s eleventh principal, encouraged the visitors to tour the school. Current teachers were stationed along the hallways to answer questions about the facility and helped visitors remember the classrooms of former teachers.
In the main hallway, first-grade teachers Clarissa Owen and Susan Arnold talked about school memories with Barbara Foutch, former substitute teacher, and Wiley Foutch, former bus driver.
Each class at the school constructed and posted “Happy Birthday” cards outside their rooms. Some classes wrote short essays about the school’s history.
Generations of families associated with the school attended
the celebration. Sanderson attended with her daughter, Mollie Carter who attended the school, and Carter’s grandmother, Rayceil Sanderson, who taught there for 25 years.
Jean Millimaki returned to her former place of employment with daughter Sharon Monk, who works in the Madison Police Department. Millimaki worked in Madison elementary’s cafeteria for 30 years.
David and Julie Scalf brought their family. Alex Scalf is a fourth-grader at Madison Elementary School.
“We love the history of this school,” Julie Scalf said. “It shows the Madison community cares for it.” The Scalfs said they are very pleased with the education that Alex is receiving and look forward to their other children entering Madison City Schools.