The History of Leon High School
As a Leon H.S. student, you’re part of a long and rich history, steeped in tradition. Leon H.S. is the oldest, continuously accredited high school in Florida.
In 1827, the first Leon Academy (for boys) was opened, and it operated until the 1840’s. A private school for girls, the Leon Female Academy, located on Bronough Street, was incorporated in 1845. This Academy operated until 1858, when the West Florida Seminary for boys absorbed it and admitted girls. This was the beginning of coed education in the capital city.
In 1871, the Board of Public Instruction for Leon County opened a new Leon Academy for white students (a public school for black students had been established around 1869). The Leon Academy educated students from elementary grades through the first two years of high school. After completing two years of high school most students finished the last two years of high school at the West Florida Seminary. Leon High School finally achieved racial integration in fall of 1963.
By 1885, a $7,000 two-story brick building with four main rooms, two classrooms and six cloak closets was constructed. Children brought their own lunches or walked home to eat; they also provided their own books and supplies. In the winter, the school was heated by pot-bellied, wood burning stoves, and in the summer, it was cooled by opening windows on either side of the room. This Leon Academy was situated on the south side of West Tennessee Street between Duval and Bronough Streets.
On August 22, 1903, the Board of Public Instruction of Leon County passed a resolution establishing a 12-grade high school known as the Leon Graded and High school, which was open to Leon County students free of tuition. The old Academy building was renovated for use in 1905, and the first kindergarten class in the state of Florida began as a part of the Leon Graded and High School. Miss Kate Sullivan and Miss Caroline Brevard were among the first teachers at the new school.
Over time the student population outgrew this location, and a new site for Leon High School was purchased on the southwest corner of Park Avenue (where the current LeRoy Collins Public Library now stands). The school opened its doors in 1911 and was considered one of the most “complete and well-arranged” schools in the state.
Leon High School was one of the first schools in the State of Florida to institute a physical education program, and in 1917 Leon had its first football team. By 1921, Student Council (Student Government) was a strong program whose sponsor was Mrs. Augusta Raa.
In 1928, Mode Stone was hired as Principal of Leon High School and he led the campaign to build a new Leon High School. By 1936 the new high school was under construction and there was much controversy. Most people said, “It’s too far out of town” (at that time Tennessee Street, Miccosukee Rd. and Meridian Streets were pasture and swamp land); they also said it was way too expensive (the cost was $500,000) and the locals were sure that there would never be enough students to fill the structure.
In 1937, the WPA project was complete and Leon High School opened its doors to the citizens of Tallahassee and Leon County. Leon is still an architecturally beautiful and functional school, and, in 1993, it earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Lions’ Pride: A Pictorial and Anecdotal
History of Leon High School
By Linda Teague, Ed.D.
The Lions’ Pride: A Pictorial and Anecdotal History of Leon High School is an illustrative coffee table book. It turns back the clock to showcase more than 100 years of Leon High School spirit and pride through images, memorabilia and anecdotes. The 280-page book will feature glossy photographs that depict vignettes of Leon’s past from school dances and sporting events to early report cards and graduation photos. Personal memoirs in the book come from alumni graduating as early as 1922, while interviews with people like Mrs. LeRoy Collins, Loranne Ausley, Cheryl Hines and Sam Teague tell the story of the impact Leon had on their lives.
About the Author
Dr. Linda Teague is a third generation Leon teacher and alumna of Leon High School, whose personal family history cannot be separated from the history of the school; they are inextricable woven together. She is currently teaching in the same room her grandmother taught in over 45 years ago. In 1931, her grandmother, Eunice Johnston, established the Leon High School journalism program and The Leon High Life, the student run newspaper which is still being published today. Her mother, Frances Teague, taught American History at Leon for seven years until her death in 1979. Her two brothers, two stepsons, an uncle and eleven cousins are graduates of Leon.
Dr. Teague began her teaching career at Leon in the Social Studies Department in 1970 and teaches Advanced Placement Psychology and World History. Twice she was selected as Leon County Social Studies Teacher of the Year and has been Leon High School Teacher of the Year. She is a two-time Fulbright Scholar, a National Board Certified Teacher, and the recipient of Newsweek Magazine’s Teacher Tribute Award.
During Dr. Teague’s 19 years as sponsor of the Leon Student Government, SGA earned recognition as The Most Outstanding Student Council in the State of Florida five times, was instrumental in starting the Inner-City Student Government, successfully lobbied to have a student representative appointed to the School Board, started the first crew team in North Florida, and served multiple times as President of District 1 Student Councils. In recognition for her dedication to training student leaders, Dr. Teague received the Florida Student Council Advisor of the Year Award, and annually two leadership scholarships are given in her honor. She has been a contributing writer to a national student leadership magazine and authored a monograph entitled, “How to Start A Leadership Class.”
Her family connections with the school, her notable work getting Leon High School on The National Register of Historic Places, and her production of an historic video about Leon High School, uniquely qualify her to be the author of The Lion’s Pride: A Pictorial and Anecdotal History of Leon High School
One of her former students, Elise Durham (Class of 1986) states, “ I cannot imagine a better person to write the history of this school. She has always been such a strong, quiet force at Leon. Who better to put the “experience of Leon” into perspective? She has worked with student leaders, taught on all levels and been advisor to many of us who came through those halls. She has LIVED LEON for over 30 years.”