HISTORY OF THE ELIZABETHTOWN INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT
From its inception, until 1828, the Hardin Academy admitted boys only. At the beginning of the 1828 school year the building was divided so that a female school could share the building. This part of the school was called Elizabethtown Female Academy or often referred to as the Female Seminary. Very few records exist for the years between 1844 and 1878. Primary schools were established and partially paid for by an act of the State Legislature in 1851. The 1870 population of Elizabethtown was 266 residents. By 1886, education through the sixth grade was available for students who wanted to take advantage of it. Public education was offered to African American children beginning in 1878.
In 1915 a new school building was constructed on West Dixie to replace the facility built in 1815. This new school, costing $25,000 to build, consisted of eleven classrooms, one office and a basement, and housed grades 1 - 12. This school was expected to handle the student population for the next twenty years. In 1919 a new gymnasium was added on to the existing building. The gym was small but provided for great school spirit. A second level was added on to the gym to provide an auditorium for the school.
Increased Population Results in Additional Schools
In 1920 East Side High School was constructed on Kennedy Street to provide education for African American high school students. In honor and recognition of Booker T. Washington and Dr. James Bond, the high school was renamed Bond-Washington School in 1929.
Additional classrooms were needed by 1932 and the Mulberry Helm School, containing eight classrooms and an office, was opened on West Dixie. This facility housed students in grades 1 – 6. In 1939 another building was constructed on Helm Street (the present location of Central Office) that contained an auditorium/gym and five classrooms. This building was destroyed by fire in 1946 but a new building was immediately constructed on the same site that held four classrooms.
The population of Elizabethtown continued to increase thereby warranting a larger school. Obtaining twenty acres of land on Morningside Drive, Morningside Elementary was constructed in 1954. This school had twelve classrooms, two offices and a cafeteria that housed students in grades 1-6. That same year construction began on a new high school adjacent to Morningside Elementary School.
In 1955 an explosion destroyed the school building on West Dixie that housed students in grades 7-12. These students moved into the newly constructed high school on Morningside Drive, along with students from Bond-Washington High School which closed its doors at the same time. Integration was successful at the high school level.
The increase in student population created the need for additional classroom space in 1957 thereby resulting in a $150,000 addition consisting of six more classrooms and additional office space at Morningside Elementary School.
In 1959 Bond-Washington Elementary School closed and complete integration at all grade levels resulted with the opening of a new district elementary, Valley View Elementary School. Three elementary schools were now operational, Mulberry Helm, Valley View and Morningside Elementary Schools. These schools originally contained grades 1-8.
An additional elementary school, Helmwood Heights Elementary, was constructed in 1961. This facility contained 11 classrooms (grades 1-8), a library, and a cafeteria with the student body drawn from Mulberry Helm and Morningside Elementary Schools. Major facility improvements to Helmwood occurred in 1987 with the renovation of the school library, followed by the addition of a new primary wing in 1993.
The Past Thirty Years
In 1969 Elizabethtown Catholic High School closed its doors and these students were integrated into the Elizabethtown Independent Schools and surrounding county schools.
In 1971 the construction of the new Elizabethtown High School was completed at a cost of 2.5 million dollars. The original floor plan was an open-concept classroom but proved impractical; walls to separate classrooms were erected in the late 1970s.
In 1996 Valley View Elementary School students were evenly disbursed among the two existing elementary schools, Morningside and Helmwood. The building became the Valley View Education Center and currently houses the district's preschool and alternative school programs, the Family Resource Youth Service Center, the after school program known as Panther Place and the district's Special Programs office.
In 1997 a major fund-raising effort resulted in the total renovation of the former T. K. Stone Auditorium into what is now the Elizabethtown Performing Arts Center. This center is equipped with professional sound equipment and theatrical lighting systems, provides a performance venue for all district artistic events, and is available for community rental. Other district construction during that same year included the addition of nine classrooms, a media center, offices, gym, music room, computer lab, as well as the renovation of all existing rooms at Morningside Elementary School.
In 1999 Elizabethtown High School erected a new science wing with state-of-the-art technology/lab facilities while T. K. Stone Middle School's science wing was renovated as well.
Major construction to EHS in 2005 resulted in the renovation of a large portion of the existing building, including the office and commons area as well as the construction of additional classrooms and an auxiliary gym. The school took on a more modern look both inside the building and out.