Midfield City Schools
As explained in the account given by Floyd Davis on page 5 of this book, the birth of the city began with efforts of the Midfield Civitan Club to get a school in the new Midfield community.
A committee of the Civitan Club was told by Jefferson County to try to get the first grade started in one of the churches. The committee got the Presbyterian Church to let the county use one of the sunday school rooms for the first grade. The first grade started in Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, still located on B.Y.Williams Sr. Dr., in the fall of 1952.
The committee continued to work with W.A. Belcher and George Gibbond, landowners, to sell the Jefferson County Board of Education 11 1/2 acres to build an elementary school. In May of 1953, the county board of education bought the property and plans for the present Midfield Elementary School started.
Meanwhile, a PTA was organized, and the members began working with the Civitan Club and Jefferson County Board of Education to get the school. It was big news in schools and school boards across the state that this small community had organized a Parant Teacher Association before there were any teachers or even a school.
The dream came true when a new 5-mill tax was adopted. The Jefferson County School Board sold $3,000,000 in warrants and began a building program. A school for Midfield was included in the program and in 1954 the school was opened for the first time with classes through the sixth grade.
The new building had seven classrooms, a principal’s office, a main office, a clinic, restrooms and cafetorium. The cafetorium had tables and benches that could be folded to the wall when not in use. Enrollment was at 242 students and gained another hundred in two years.
By the school’s second birthday a wing was being built that would give the school a total of eleven classrooms. Mrs. Lucile Payne, from Dolomite School, was the principal.
In 2002 the new gymnasium was completed.
Wilkes Elementary School came into Midfield on June 13, 1962 along with the annexation of the Wilkes community.
Mary Lou Bingham, who was born in May of 1916 on Huntsville Rd. in what was then called McDonalds Station, can remember starting 1st grade at Wilkes School (in the area served by Wilkes Station) on the 2nd
floor of a two-story wood framed building. A family lived on the 1st floor. When the brick building was constructed in front of the old wood frame building in 1924, she attended all grades in all classrooms there through the 8th grade.
Robert Ponder (1916) and his family moved to Wilkes Hill (later to become Fairfield Highlands) in 1922 and attended Wilkes School in the brick building from 1st through the 4th grades and then went to the old Rutledge School from the 5th through the 9th grade.
Old 1926 (2nd) Rutledge School
Rutledge School became surrounded by Midfield during the piecemeal annexation that took place between 1964 and 1968.
Rutledge School came into the Midfield School system on July 1, 1971 when Jefferson County turned over three schools to the new Midfield Board of Education. The others were Midfield Elementary and Wilkes School. Buy this time Rutledge School was already surrounded by Midfield.
Sometime before 1925, Jefferson County built a school on the hill on the corner of 8th Ave. and 9th Street. This wood frame building came to be known as Rutledge School. In 1926 a two story brick building would replace it. Those who lived on the hill attended Wilkes School through the 4th grade and attended Rutledge for the 5th and 6th grades. Mary Lou Bingham, who lived closser to Wilkes School, attended all nine grades at Wilkes.
In 1932, in an effort to help it’s employees get through the depression, TCI permitted local residents to clear property on 8th St. for fire wood and to plant a garden there. Later they deeded the property to the Jefferson County Board of Education to build a school. Guy Smith (1921) attended the 1st through 3rd grade at the old Rutledge School on the corner of 8th St. and 9th Avenue. He attended the 4th grade in the Marion Ruff building on 11th Ave. beside the Presbyterian Church, and the 5th and 6th grades in a building across 9th St. from Rutledge School in what would later become the Masonic Lodge. In 1934 he attended the new Joseph N. Rutledge School on 8th St. for the 7th through the 9th grades. For a brief period there were two Rutledge Schools, with the old school going from 1st through 4th grades and the new school going from 5th through 8th. When the one on the hill closed up (shown above), the building became a civic building.
In the spring of 1974 the wood frame Rutledge School building burned down and was hurriedly replaced with a brick building of the same basic design that same year.
As of this writing (Jan. 7, 2011) a major renovation is taking place at Rutledge Middle School.
Midfield Board of Education
In 1970 the Citizens of Midfield voted to organize their own school system and leave Jefferson County. They also voted to pay an additional 7 1/2 mil ad valorem tax in order to support the school system.
Thomas M. Alexander was appointed as the first Superintendent of Midfield Schools on Feb. 1st 1971. The first school board office was in the house behind the first City Hall that would later become the first Midfield Public Library. Jefferson County operated the schools for the remainder of the school year. On July 1, 1971 Jefferson County turned over the operation of three schools to Midfield. They were; Midfield Elementary, which as explained earlier, was created almost simultaneously with the incorporation of the City, Wilkes Jr. High, which was annexed with the Wilkes area in 1962, and Rutledge School, which by this time was surrounded by Midfield.
In 1972, Board of Education President, Ray Tatum, along with other board members, J. Windsor, R. Murphy, R. Harbuck, and D. Carmichael petitioned the City of Midfield to annex the High School properties and Rutledge School properties into Midfield. On Jan. 8th, 1973 the City annexed the properties by ordinance.
Midfield High School was constructed in 1972.
Dr. Alexander served as Superintendent for eight years and at his retirement Mr. Robert Bumpus was appointed to the position. In 1985 Mr. Bumpus retired, and in February of 1986 Andy H. Rowell became the Superintendent.
The new Midfield Elementary School gymnasium was completed in 2002 and a major expansion of the Board of Education building was completed in 2003.
Andy Rowell retired on June 30, 2003 and Donnie Breaseale became the 4th Supt. of Midfield Schools on July 1, 2003. He served until July of 2007.
Dr. Douglas Ragland came to us from Greene County Schools, where he served as superintendent there. He served as Superintendent Midfield Schools from Aug. 6, 2007 until Aug. 6, 2010.
Nikita Williams, who had been principal of Rutledge School since March of 2004, was appointed acting Supt. Schools on July 19, 2010. She was appointed interim Superintendent on August 7 and on October 5, 2010 she became the 6th Superintendent of Midfield Schools.
Midfield High School
Construction of Midfield High School started right after the Midfield Board of Education was created. The High School was constructed in 1972 using the open classroom design. This new and modern design used few if any interior walls. It was an experiment that failed. Confusion and noise required the installation of interior walls. It also took a couple of years to stop the ceiling from leaking.
E.G. Butler was the first principal of Midfield High School. Before coming here he taught science and P.E. at Waterloo High School while a student at Florence State. He then transferred to Red Bay High School where he served as principal for eight years. The first head coach was Herbert Alexander and the first band director was Randall Harwell. The first MHS annual, “Reflections” was printed in 1973.
The City’s new park & recreation department shared it’s gym and ball fields with the new high school athletic department until a gym and ball fields could be built at the school. The fields were built first, then the gym was ready for the 1974 school year with Bill Harbuck as head coach.
The Midfield High School Patriots basketball team won the State championship in 1984 and then again in 1988.
In 1994 the Andy H. Rowell Performing Arts Center was constructed and was considered by many to be the finest performance facility of it’s kind in Alabama. Other distinguishing characteristics of the High School are a mural on the wall of the main hallway, painted by students in 1994, and High School Road, painted by all Sr. Class students from the beginning.
The Midfield High School Lady Patriots basketball team won the State 4A basketball championship in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010.