Pompano Beach High School, the second oldest high school in Broward County, has a rich and colorful history. This is its story, as told by Bud Garner, one of Pompano Beach High's earlier graduates, a member of the Pompano Beach Historical Society, and the "unofficial historian" of the city of Pompano Beach, and as edited and added to by Steve Zimmerman, of the Pompano Beach High School Alumni Association:
From 1897 to 1910, one room and one teacher were sufficient to accommodate the needs of the fledgling communities in Northeast Broward County, though the school moved many times.
The town of Pompano formed in the year 1908, and in 1910 the need for educational facilities was answered with the building of a two-room grammar school (through sixth grade) on N.E. 1st Street and 2nd Ave. During this time, the junior high and high school students in Pompano attended Ft. Lauderdale High. In 1916, the first building of the plant on N.E. 4th Street (currently the location of Pompano Beach Middle School) was built. It had five rooms into which 50 students moved. Eventually, the town added to the grammar school, and the high school wascreated. In 1926 the auditorium and about half of the north building were built. The gymnasium and most of the other facilities were added after 1945.
The first class to graduate from Pompano High was the class of 1928. There were twelve graduating seniors that year and as of 2001, two of these graduates are still living. They are Myrtle Darsey Ritter (valedictorian) and Gretchen Raines Robertson. The 1929 graduating class numbered twelve members of which there are two still living. In 1950, students in all 12 grades came from Deerfield in the north to Oakland Park in the south to this school.
The first attempts at publishing a school paper were sometime in the early years. About a year and a half ago, an early copy surfaced. The name of that publication was "SEA SPRAY," and it eventually gave way to the publication in later years of the school paper, "THE ORACLE."
The first attempts at publishing a year book were undertaken by the Photographic Club and all the material was typewritten and the pictures taken by and incorporated in a folder type manuscript. The first published annual was in 1942, and it was the first one to have the name "THE BEANPICKER." This remained the name of the yearbook until the school closed in 1985, even after the school's nickname was changed to the "Golden Tornadoes."
Basketball and football were the major school sports in the formative years, and the teams were also known as the "Beanpickers." Pompano was primarily an agricultural town in those days. "Bean Picking" is what many of the students did back then. Beanpickers is what they were, so it was only natural that it became the nickname for the school's athletic teams.
For the "Beanpickers" the schedules were hard to make because of the large number of boys that were playing and the lack of a means of transportation to get to games that out of necessity, were played during daylight hours and in close proximity to the town of Pompano. There were not many other schools closeby, and often the teams had to travel long distances.
Pompano had its first ever undefeated football season in 1941. It was marred by one tie game with Eau Gallie. Pompano played six-man football, which was popular in these times because of small schools and limited players. The year 1944 saw another undefeated, untied football season and at this time it was 11-man football and playing larger and stronger schools.
Pompano fielded many championship athletic teams, including
basketball, swimming, golf, and tennis, and also had award winning
bands, orchestras and choruses, and excelled in arts, sciences, and academics.
The year 1942 saw thirty-three Beanpickers serving in the armed forces of the United States with many more to follow before hostilities ceased in 1945. Six former Beanpickers died in WWII, three of whom were members of the undefeated football team.
The school's Latin motto,"non summis sed ascendentes," means: "Not at the summit, but ascending." The school song is the "Washington and Lee Swing" (the fight song of Washington and Lee University). The words of the fight song and the school's Alma Mater, composed by Claire Canfield in 1952, are reprinted below.
Due to the westward shift in population, which occurred in Broward County in the 1980's, Pompano Beach High School was closed in 1985 amid much political controversy and community protest. It remained closed for the next 12 years. During that time the building was used for adult education and community programs.
But the Pompano traditions have remained strong and the spirit of the Beanpickers and the Golden Tornadoes carried on. The graduates from the "Beanpicker" era have banded together, published a member directory that is updated several times a year, and a " Beanpicker" reunion is held once every three years on Memorial Day weekend in Pompano Beach. It is attended by hundreds of former students from all around the country andthe world. Graduates from the "Golden Tornado" era have held 10, 20, 25 and 30-year reunions consistently since graduation and have maintained contact through various publications and the Internet.
Pompano High graduates remained fiercely loyal to their alma mater. The spirit of the Beanpickers and the Golden Tornadoes, lingering in the hallways and infused into the brick and mortar of the old school, remained dormant for 15 years while the school was closed, but it could never be eradicated. In 1997, the school reopened as Broward County's first all magnet school, offering a curriculum specializing in International Affairs with Information Technology.
With the reopening of the school, and the bold decision of the students to embrace and nurture once again the history and traditions of their Alma Mater, Pompano Beach High School is once again on its way to fulfilling its role as one of the community's premier institutions of learning. And if the recent graduates are an indication of the quality and character of the graduates to come, the generations of alumni whom they join should feel confident that the spirit of accomplishment, pride, cooperation and companionship known by all Pompano Beach High Alumni will continue for future generations.
The words of our fight song tell it all. It goes like
this: (Beanpicker Fight song - melody unknown - not used during “Tornado