Pinecrest celebrates 75 years of education
LITHIA - A school that once housed all 12 grades recently celebrated its 75th anniversary with a meal, entertainment and an evening of reminiscing. About 250 current and former students, teachers and others were on hand at Pinecrest Elementary School for the festivities. The celebration was a rousing success, said PTA President Angel White West, who attended there and has a number family ties to the school at 7950 Lithia-Pinecrest Road. Pinecrest students at one time attended all 12 grades at the campus. But the Pilots graduated their last class in 1972 as the school district consolidated schools.Highlights of the celebration included performances by the Buckshot Cloggers, the school chorus and drum corps and others. The evening also included a barbecue meal and memorabilia loaned by alumni that was displayed in the media center. The items included the football jersey and letter jacket worn by West's father, Jimmie White, who graduated in 1969. West's ties also include a sister, April White Hasley, who teaches third grade. The Pinecrest staff includes several former students besides Hasley, including Jean Graham, Denise Long, Kellie Conrad Turner, Amanda Cooper Cave and Jeana Brantley Sistrunk. Probably the oldest graduating class member at the landmark celebration was Oscar Lastinger, from the Pilot class of 1943. Past principals in attendance included Lyle Flagg, principal in 1963-68; Billy Pate, 1970-72; Martha Hood, 1986-99; and Vicki Dotson, 1999-June 2011. Current Principal Denise Mobley was also there. Pinecrest traces its roots to July 1936, when residents of Keysville, Lithia, Picnic and Welcome agreed that a school was needed in a central location. The school was dedicated by Congressman J. Hardin Peterson, who also presented the school with its first flag, which had flown over the U.S. Capitol. The school's name was selected from suggestions submitted on opening day. The winning name, reportedly inspired by pines on the campus, was submitted by Geneva Bateman, who later became a teacher there. The school, started with grades 1-9, consolidated with Johnson Consolidated School the following year. Pinecrest had its first graduating class in 1939. In the following years, Pinecrest added a lunchroom, band room, clinic, agricultural building, barn, shower-locker building, lighted football field and more. The campus took on its current look in the early 1980s, when all the buildings on the 38-acre campus were torn down and replaced.
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