Howard Moore, Supervising Principal (meaning he was Principal and Superintendant). He is the man the original Topix thread was named after. This shows him in the old main building administrative office.



Bob Overby. He arrived at Ferguson in 1961 as Social Studies teacher and assistant coach. Over the next four years he was senior class sponsor, student council advisor, and just about every other extracurricular post. In 1966 he was named Principal under Superintendant H. T. Higgins. After Ferguson closed he was principal at Southern Middle School for many years.
Ferguson School
The Ferguson Board of Education during the mid 1950s. Longtime Ferguson resident Ralph Duncan, who himself in the 1960s served on the board and eventually became chairman, believed this was the strongest superintendant and board the school ever had. They administered the school during the last years of its Golden Era, which ran from 1940 through 1960. During their tenure Ferguson was the strongest school in the region academically, athletically and financially. It was almost more like a private academy than a public school. From Left to Right, front, are Chairman Lee Vaughn, Superintendant Orville Swearingen, and John Compton; rear Sanford Hamilton, Wayne Sears, and Claude Percellis. Orville Swearingen was twice named Kentucky's Outstanding Superintendant. Longtime Ferguson teachers and adults insisted that had they been able to keep Swearingen for another decade or two, the school would never have gone into decline. His philosophy was that a small school was the best school because of the individual attention each child could receive, and he made sure every teacher gave every child that attention. He interviewed as far away as Atlanta and only hired the very best.
Mrs. Williamson stops to talk to Mrs. Hamilton before taking their students back inside after the lunch break in September 1976. Even at this late date, eight years after the high school was closed, every year Ferguson students scored higher than any other elementary school in the county on tests of basic skills.
Ferguson had a lot of beloved teachers over the years, but the most beloved of all was Margaret Cowan. During most of her career she taught third grade. Mrs. Cowan graduated from Eastern Kentucky University and went on to earn a Masters Degree and Specialist of Arts degree from the University of Kentucky. Parents and administrators appreciated her for the tight discipline she maintained in her classroom. But she possessed a tremendous mastery of her various subjects, and considered it her personal crusade to make sure every one of her students left third grade thoroughly skilled in each. She was convinced every student had a gift in something and was determined to find out what it was and encourage that student to develop it. Margaret Cowan was recognized on various occasions as one of the outstanding elementary school teachers in the county, region and state. Sidney Simandle of the Kentucky State Department of Education wrote in a 1960 evaluation of Ferguson that one of the reasons Ferguson High School students performed so well on tests of basic skills was that they had such a strong grade school background, and Margaret Cowan was the foundation of that program. Mrs. Cowan took a special interest in students from disadvantaged backgrounds. She called it "her missionary work." Her value to Ferguson extended beyond her own classroom. She took new teachers under her wing and advised and mentored them during their first teaching years, thus influencing the entire elementary school.
Board 1965-67. Front L to R : Board Chairman Ralph Duncan, Supt. Herbert T. Higgins, John Minton. Rear L to R: Dudley Yahnig, Jerry Muse, John Burton. This was a very controversial board. They presided over Ferguson when the state decided to close it, much against the will of anyone at Ferguson. Over the 1966-67 school year they were in a constant battle over financing, laws and administrative maneuvers. Some said had they been more clever they might have kept the school open. But they were faced with a declining tax base, declining enrollment and the determination of state administrators to close as many small independent schools as possible. Ralph Duncan may have been the greatest school board chairman in the 60 year history of Ferguson School, but he was fighting a losing battle, and there were people in Pulaski County who were working to undermine everything these men did. In April of 1967 Duncan resigned in frustration as it became official that the school was lost, and the state mandated that the board develop a one year plan to phase out the high school. This was thus the last board the high school ever had.
Mrs. Henderson pauses at her door in 1976. After the high school was closed, the elementary school remained open for students in grades 1-8 until l983. With the county's finest auditorium, largest gym, second largest school library and several other excellent facilities, Ferguson was the best elementary school in Pulaski or any adjacent county for those 15 years.
Herbert T. Higgins. He had already taught, coached and served as principal in the Pulaski County Schools for 48 years, mostly at Nancy, where he retired at age 70 after a long administrative term. However, when Howard Moore resigned as the Supervising Principal at Ferguson, and a suitable replacement could not be found, the board approached H. T. Higgins to ask if he would come out of retirement. He agreed, and thus became the last superintendant Ferguson would ever have. The Pulaski County system, like most large Kentucky systems, was very political, and Higgins had proven to be very skillful at maneuvering within the political battles over several decades. Ferguson board members hoped his connections and instinct for political survival would help them in the battle to keep the school open. He was definitely an "old school" administrator, a shrewd manager of a meager budget, a strict disciplinarian, and a no nonsense adherent to school laws. In a decade when the state had Ferguson under a microscope and was looking for any excuse to close the school, Higgins gave them no room to move. He crossed every T, dotted every i, accounted for every dollar, and made sure every teacher followed every law to the letter. Critics argued that Higgins was too traditional, that as America moved into the sixties, it was time for new programs, for innovation, to offer Ferguson kids new programs and opportunities. Their hope was that if Ferguson became a model school the state would back off and leave it alone. Higgins countered that first he had to keep the school open, and perhaps several years down the road he could worry about innovation. He had been a basketball star, and in his seventies was tall and thin, and the kids called him "Ichabod Crane" after the character in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. His favorite method of disciplining high school kids was to make them duckwalk around the school.
Mrs. Hamilton supervising students at lunchtime 1976. One of the disadvantages of merging Ferguson with the county system was that Ferguson teachers were paid on the same scale as all the other Pulaski teachers. When Ferguson was an independent school district, for 60 years, it paid its teachers and coaches more than any of the Pulaski schools or, in fact, any of the schools in the 12th Region except for Danville. So Ferguson teachers took a significant pay cut when their school merged into the county system.
Ralph Duncan was recognized all over Kentucky as an outstanding school board chairman, possibly the best in the state and probably the best Ferguson had ever had. In a state where school boards were extremely political, filled with men trying to use the school for their own personal agendas, Duncan had no motives except the survival and excellence of Ferguson School. He had children in the school, all outstanding students, and he wanted them and every other student to receive the best possible education. His son Larry was an outstanding basketball player, but never once did Duncan try to use his position as school board chairman to obtain any special treatment from any coach. Duncan had a full time job as manager of the local monument company, but no one understood how he kept the business running while devoting seven days a week to Ferguson School business. Duncan did not have a degree in Law, Business Administration, Finance or Educational Administration, but he had a keen instinct for when someone was trying to get away with something, and he made up for his lack of special knowledge by going over checkbooks, receipts, memos and letters line by line to make sure he knew exactly what was going on. He knew, for example, that not only in Frankfort but right here in Pulaski County, there were those with their own motives for wanting Ferguson closed, and those people had no interest at all in better serving Ferguson or Pulaski County children. He also knew Somerset had violated the law by annexing only the land within the Ferguson district that contained taxable assets, a clever technique called "gerrymandering," or "islanding," which the courts had ruled illegal when county seat school districts elsewhere had tried it. Ferguson did not have the money to hire a lawyer to take this issue to court, but Duncan tried to convince the state attorney general that the state itself should file suit on behalf of Ferguson. He became convinced Somerset individuals with political connections to Frankfort were influencing the attorney general's office to take no action, which was denied at the time, but 10 years later, in 1976, when a different party was in power, records were made public which proved Duncan right. In the final analysis Ralph Duncan was a very good man fighting a losing battle, but he probably kept the school open several years later than it otherwise would have been.
Bus Drivers 65-66 L to R Mitch Miller, Wes Meece, Ed Gallagher
Cooks 65-66 : L to R Geneva Waddle and Velda Francis.