Billy "Speedy" Fowler (left) and Johnny Cundiff on the Yacht Sea Breeze on the Ferguson Senior Trip of May 1961. Sadly, Billy, one of the most popular Ferguson students ever, died from burns suffered at the Burnside Charcoal Plant on June 14, 1963. Note the Ray Ban sunglasses.



Jousting at a Medieval Fair on Ferguson's football field in the early 1950s by a travelling troupe.
Ferguson School
Members of the Class of 1961 take a break from "selling ads for the yearbook" at Finley's on a balmy April afternoon. From left to right Charles "Tink" Casada, Haskell Sullivan (driver), Sonny Denney (with face covered), Dolphus Price (black coat), Elwood Durham, Bobby Hamm (front passenger seat with face partially obscured), Johnny Cundiff (in back), Dickie Ford, John Raymond Beasley, Billy Fowler, Leonard Taylor, Lois Ann Young, Sue Coomer, Norma Galloway and Sandra Muse. Elwood was not in the Class of 1961, but had snuck out of school to grab a Finley Burger & Fries for lunch and ended up in the picture because he was a friend of Haskell. Haskell's red and white 1955 Chevy Bel Air convertible was one of the snazziest cars in Ferguson during his time in high school. It had naugahyde seats, one of the first stereo car radios, and a V-8 engine. It was a common sight at Finley's all year and at the local drive in movie during the Summer months.
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Washing their cars in May 1961 are from left Charles "Tink" Casada, Herbert Beasley, Tommy Wheeler (holding hose), Billy Fowler (in the back, leaning on the hood of the Ford), Bryan Morrow, Bobby Hamm and Leonard Taylor (far right and back, behind the Ford). The cars are, at left, a 1955 Pontiac and, at right, a 1954 Ford Fairlane. The Pontiac, brand new in 1955, cost $2100. Used, in 1960 it cost $600. The Fairlane cost $1800 new in 1954 and used in 1961 it cost $350. A high school student could earn enough in one Summer working in tobacco, in one of the local plants, in timber, or on the railroad, to buy a car, and most did.
Patti Dykes maneuvers her 1957 Ford Fairlane out of the parking lot past the white 1959 Chevy Impala (to her right) and blue and white 1956 Buick (to her left). Parked in the shadows in the back are a '55 Chevy, 1954 Studebaker and 1956 Dodge. This photo was taken out the study hall window on the second floor, looking down on the space soon to be filled with the new administrative office complex. The students are leaving school on a September 1959 Friday afternoon. Patti's Fairlane was considered a very stylish car because it was one of the first "hardtop coupes," so named because there were no side pillars between the front and rear windows. This was supposed to give it the appearance of a convertible while retaining the warmth and comfort of a hard top. Notice on the rear bumper the license plate bracket is offset to the right, another sporty option. Ferguson students of the 59-60 school year debated constantly whether Patty's Ford, the white Chevy Impala, Haskell Sullivan's Chevy, or the 1951 Shoebox Ford was the hottest car in town.
L to R Sharon Hughes, Sharlene Barnes and Barbara Meece pause in front of the Nightmist Blue 1950 Shoebox Ford. This Ford was much smaller than the newer cars most students drove, but handled much better on winding country roads and got much better mileage. It was the car favored by Pulaski and McCreary County moonshiners, who would build a second gas tank under the rear seat and use the original gas tank to carry their illegal cargo down to Knoxville over Route 27. This particular car, however, was pampered for a decade and in September 1959, when this photo was taken, it was in showroom condition.
Six well known characters pose for a photo on a September 1959 afternoon. From L to R : Carl Yahnig, Donnie Cowan, Gerald Nicholas, Frankie Dyer and Jimmy Young. Kneeling is Bert Minton.
David Keith, Marilyn Yahnig and Peggy Lovins pause on the way home after another day of school. They are standing to the side of the building near the fire escape.
Ain't Love Grand? On the left are Jimmy Young and Peggy Cope. On the right are Edna Caldwell and Jimmy Cundiff. Holding the license plate over the car is Gordon Blevins. This is the same 1950 nightmist blue Shoebox Ford that appears in several other photos. By this time, October 1959, it was eight years old and not as large or plush as the newer cars some Ferguson kids drove. It came without a radio, power brakes or power steering. It was available only in a three speed stick shift. The girls considered it difficult to drive. But it was still the fastest and best handling on back roads and a lot of guys kept watching the used car lots, hoping to buy one.
Sharon Sadler pauses in front of the bus in September of 1964.
Barbara Howard November '67
Nancy Atchley's 1955 birthday party : 1st Row L to R : Bev Ard (white cap), Sharon Denny(partially obscured), Gay Haney, Deedee Buck (half step in front), Cheryl Pierce, Patty Muse, Nancy Atchley, Judy Burton, Monica Sewell. 2nd : Sandy Denny, Margaret Tucker, Joyce Godby, Jeannie Beasley, Peggy Lovins, Brenda Haney, Marilyn Cooper. The Baby is Mary Buck.
Linda Whitaker November 1965

1996 Ferguson Reunion at Bronston. 1st Row L to R : Barbara Farmer, Evelyn Taylor, Lana Hardwick Cooper, Barbara Hall, Linda Burton Whitaker, Nellie Goff Richardson, Joetta Whitaker Kennedy, Sharon Denny Clines. 2nd Row: Charlie Tucker, Coach Woody Gosser, Donnie Gibson, David Meece, Mike Richardson (partially obscured), Lonnie Girdler. 3rd Row: Charlotte Wood Tucker, Eddie Bill Ping.

Pam Duncan in 10 grade November 1965
Carol Waddle, Josie Abner and Linda Turner wait for their bus in grand style.
Joyce Wells, 10th grade, Nov. '65
This slightly blurred photo shows (l to r) Ray Wheat, Herb Beasley, Bryan Morrow, James Nelson, Sonny Denney, John Beasley, and Gerald Nicholas posing before school on a 1959 November morning.
Vacation Bible School students at Ferguson Baptist Church in the 1955. Cannot be enlarged.
Blondie9, Christmas 1961
65-66 Yearbook : Seated Linda Whitaker. L to R : Editor Sandra Denney, Barbara Taylor, Brenda "Bee" Flynn, Larry Smith, Cecil Phelps, Lawrence Abbott, Pauline Waddle, Co Editor Bonnie Girdler.
Most photos of the school or the gym are from the front, but this angle shows the side and rear of the main building. Notice Mr. Copenhaver's 1953 truck, a well worn but reliable vehicle familiar to all Fergusonians in the 1950s. At this time, the administrative annex had not yet been built. There's a swing set barely visible along the right side of the photo.
Homecoming '66 : Sylvia Hamm is crowned queen by Geography and Speech teacher Randall Byrd.
Ferguson School, March 1960. This is the last known photo of the school before the administration/ home ec/ cafeteria annex was added to the right. The classrooms and library are to the right, with the auditorium to the left. To the rear on the second floor are additional high school classrooms over the auditorium. In 1960, although Ferguson was a small school, this was the largest high school auditorium in the 12th Region. As small schools were consolidated into large county schools in the 60s, larger facilities were finally built, surpassing it. However, this remained the largest stage in the region until the school closed. Architects worked with drama experts from Centre College and Eastern Kentucky State College in designing both stage and auditorium, one of the state's finest performing centers when new.
Gays Service Station might not look like much here, but it was one of the main cultural centers of Ferguson in the fifties and sixties. Kids not only came here for gas, but to work on their cars, buy inner tubes to take down to Pitman Creek, buy an RC Cola, or smoke a cigarette. If you wanted to find someone, you usually started here. Looking out the door is Marla Cooper Durham. Playing outside is Wayne Durham.
Five honeys pose after a 1960 slumber party. From Left: Sharlene Barnes Eldridge, Barbara Meece Schoolcraft, Debby Hancock Clark, Arlene Roy, and Marlyn Cooper Durham. Slumber parties were almost a weekly event.
Larry Stephens and Sammy Bell enjoy the 1960 field trip to Cumberland Falls. This 1952 Chevy school bus lasted through three engines and 450,000 miles, hauling students every day plus field trips and basketball road trips. State regulations did not allow buses to be used beyond that.
The Burton Clan rules---almost. From L : Gene Burton, prince, brother Larry, king, Gail Reeves, queen, cousin Sue Burton, princess. Supt. Herbert T. Higgins places the crown at the 1967 Fall Festival. $850 was raised for field trips, library books, equipment and other purchases.
Cruising For A Bruising: Bert Minton, age 16, is supposed to be washing and waxing this 1953 Ford on Sunday, July 24, 1960. Minutes later he was caught and reassigned to weed the garden.
We cropped the parent's name from this note, but it reminds us that life in the 1960s was hard for many families. Homes were beginning to have indoor bathrooms, but many students came to school without gloves or warm winter coats. Vacation trips were rare. Christmases were sparse. Field trips and basketball trips were the only travelling many students did.
Ferguson School. In the 1960s, this was not only the finest school building in Pulaski County; it was the finest from Danville to the North to Middlesboro to the East to Campbellsville to the West. Go to any of the historical websites, or to the Somerset Library, and look at photos of any other Pulaski County school or any school from any neighboring county and you will see they are quite small and crude. Ferguson, by contrast, had three floors, high ceilinged classrooms, good restrooms, a legitimate science lab, one of the three best libraries in the region, a completely equipped home ec complex, a beautiful auditorium, that great staircase, and full administrative offices. The gym had a college sized floor when most gyms in the region were not even full sized high school floors. And this was in the 60s. In 1910, when the school was built, it was one of the finest in the entire state. Even today, in the 21st Century, there are many high schools still operating that do not have nearly as fine a building. Looked at with historical perspective, there is no reason this school should have been closed.
The annual field trip to Mammoth Cave. This photo is taken at the Historic Entrance just prior to the three hour underground tour. The two rangers with the park service hats led the group. This trip was held in May but the jackets and sweaters they are wearing are because of the year round 60 degree temperatures underground. Most Ferguson students had never been in a cave before this tour. From 1920 to 1960, Ferguson held annual field trips to Cumberland Falls, Cumberland Gap, Mammoth Cave, Washington D.C. and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. As the school moved into the 1960s, it began cutting one of these trips a year until by the 1966-67 school year there were none. The Mammoth Cave trip was not overnight; they left Ferguson at 7:30 a.m. and returned after dark.
The annual first and second grade trip to the Southern Belle Dairy. Can you locate Nancy Atchley, Joetta Whitaker, Pam Duncan and Eddie Bill Ping in this picture ? At the conclusion of the trip, each student received a free ice cream cone or fudgesicle, which they are still eating here.
In the fifties, the annual Lake Cumberland Spring Festival served as the Pulaski County qualifier for the Miss Kentucky Pageant. There was a parade, followed by a tea, banquet, talent competition and judging. Over the years, several Ferguson girls had won the local contest and gone on to the statewide pageant in Lexington, some placing as high as first runnerup but none ever becoming Miss Kentucky. In May 1959, Shirley Colyer was one of Ferguson's all time strongest contenders. Beautiful, talented and poised, she is shown here during the parade. Back at school she was also class president, captain of the cheerleaders, and winner of numerous academic honors.
Home Economics Class. Many of these older photos were made with a type of film called tintype, which were fine when first made, but do not hold up well over time and do not scan well into a computer. Here the girls can be seen hard at work at their sewing machines. L to R Carley Mayfield, Shirley Colyer, Linda Hodge, and Lois Ann Fisher. At sewing machines L to R are Marsha Haney and Geraldine Miller.
Mrs. Cowan's third grade classroom. This would be the final class to graduate from Ferguson High.

Typing Class. 1st Row L to R Marlene Hodge, ?, ?. 2nd Row L to R Sandra Meece, Lida Jones, Darlene Maiden, Norma Galloway. 3rd Row L to R Judy Chitwood, ?, Peggy Sears. 4th Row L to R Sue Guy, ?, ?, Jerry Meece. 5th Row L to R Carolyn Love, ?, James Nelson, ?.

Mostly girls took typing in hopes of landing jobs as typists, secretaries and executive secretaries after graduation. Before the computer, all businesses had to maintain skilled typists, who could type over 100 words a minute without any errors. Competitions were held for speed and accuracy. Girls had to learn to maintain their typewriters and manipulate mimeo and ditto masters and other devices. As the school's major sponsor, the Southern Railroad hired the top four or five girls every year for its own secretarial pool in the 30s, 40s and early 50s.

Biology Class. Notice it is all boys. For many years, Ferguson linked Biology and PE courses and taught them separately. While the girls were in the gym, the boys would be in Biology, then they would switch. This allowed all boys and all girls PE classes, then allowed boys and girls to receive separate teaching during the parts of Biology that dealt with sex and reproduction. In this picture, a forest ranger has brought in several live snakes to liven up a unit on reptiles. Until 1960, Ferguson ran very strong science programs and brought in a continual series of guest speakers to demonstrate everything from birds, insects and fish to motors, guns and electricity. During the 40s and 50s the annual stop of a Southern Railroad train behind the school so the students could peek inside the engine and see how everything worked was a big tradition. The railroad, which funded the school, needed all the engineers and scientists it could get and, indeed, many boys and a few girls from Ferguson went on to careers in science and engineering. By 1960 this had begun to fade.

Lida Jones was as big a star at Ferguson as any of the basketball players. She was a 1961 graduate who was gifted academically and won a long list of awards plus being president of her class. She was an outstanding writer and speaker. Back in the fifties and sixties the state sponsored various writing and speaking competitions on special topics. Lida won competitions with her essays, and for delivering a powerful speech beginning with the words, "I Speak For Democracy," in which she explained to the audience exactly what it meant to be an American. At a time when Ferguson and Somerset were battling over which school was academically the best in the county and the region, students like Lida were treasured. Somerset had the children of doctors, lawyers and other professionals. For Ferguson to be able to take the children of railroad, forest service, drilling, timber and other blue collar workers and have them equal or surpass their cross town rivals showed that the school by the tracks was a good place to be, that its teachers were at least doing as good a job, and that they might even be doing a better job. Since Ferguson, as an independent school district, needed to attract transfers from the city and county, this public perception was critically important. Ferguson had a long history of success in debate, science fair, music, drama and other competitions. No one realized at the time that Lida was the last of this 40 year tradition. The school stopped coaching students for these competitions, stopped sending them off to the events, and began losing its reputation as a top academic institution. Parents from Burnside, Mt. Victory, Shopville and Somerset stopped sending their kids to Ferguson, and its enrollment began to decrease. Six years later, this would prove fatal. Lida earned a masters degree in Home Economics at the University of Kentucky, became an agricultural extension agent in Michigan, married, raised a son, and moved back to Kentucky, where she is an agricultural extension agent based in Albany.

1956 Ferguson senior trip to Florida. It was a small class, with 17 graduating after several married, went in the army, or went to work on the railroad. They held a pie supper, bake sale, slave work day, and other fund raisers to pay for the trip. The Florida trip was a tradition for 40 years. The beach, deep sea fishing, shopping, seafood, and tanning were highlites.
Darrell Kennedy, Nancy Atchley and Joetta Whitaker Kennedy pause for a photo at the 2008 Somerset Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in freezing temperatures on a December evening. Nancy and Joetta both attended Ferguson from first grade on and were members of the Class of 1968, the last class to graduate from the high school.
The Ferguson Class of 1956. The school held its graduation ceremonies in its beautiful auditorium, one of the nicest in the 12th Region. Several years they tried holding graduation outside but it was felt inside was classier so for the last 10 years they held them inside. The '56 class was small, with only 17. The state had a rule that for a high school to stay open it had to have 100 students in the four grades, at least 25 in each class, so years like this hurt. Shown are teacher Olen Kerns, then L to R front Wayne Sears, Bill Jones, xx, Dwight Prather (in the wheelchair), xx, Shirley Mayfield, Jerry Workman, back row l to r xx, xx, xx, Hayden Waddle, Jim Richardson, Ray Cowan, Ernold Smith, Ed Sears, xx, Wendell Wilson. Anyone who can identify the others please contact us.
Linda Burton, 9th grade, Nov. 1964
Five Ferguson boys build a clubhouse down along Pitman Creek from scrap lumber "borrowed" from a dismantled building on the outskirts of town. Pitman Creek ran along the eastern edge of the Ferguson school until it emptied into the lake.
Joetta Whitaker, 14, as a high school sophomore in November '64.
Gene Burton looking out over the Rockcastle Gorge in the Summer of 1966. Coach Dan Omlor tried to take his players on as many trips into the outdoors as possible. They would go swimming, inner tubing, canoeing, hiking or whatever else they could get into. On this particular trip they drove up to Mt. Victory, followed an old country road to a trailhead, and hiked several miles back in to Cliff's Edge. During the Summer of '66, Gene was getting ready to enter the seventh grade. He would become the lead guard on the Whiz Kids, the basketball team that would finish the season unbeaten, win the regional title and reach the state finals before losing. A thousand feet below Gene in this photo is The Narrows, a tricky stretch of white water where canoeists have to maneuver between a series of boulders. The boys and their coach ate lunch here and watched the canoeists far below try their luck.
World War II erupted in the 1940s and Ferguson was swept up in a wave of enlistments and drafts. A boy could wait to be drafted and sent to the Army, or he could enlist and have his choice of services. One of the options available was to enlist in the "Buddy Program," and be guaranteed you would be sent to war with your friends. These guys from Ferguson graduated, signed up for the Navy under the Buddy Program and served together. If you look carefully you can see these are the same guys in all four photographs. Fortunately, they got to serve their time in the Atlantic, where they only came close to direct battle once. These five guys had the honor of participating in the Normandy Invasion, providing cover for the Army and Marines landing on the now famous beaches. Since they took the Germans by surprise, there was no naval confrontation. Ferguson had boys serve in all four branches of the armed services during World War II.
Carl Yahnig was, in the opinion of many people, one of the finest basketball players ever to come out of Ferguson. He went on to play at Cumberland College, then has spent 45 years teaching and coaching at Hopkinsville High School. Carl has made a hobby of photography since high school. Any time his own team does not reach the State Tournament, Carl works the tournament as a photographer. Various newspapers and even the Kentucky High School Athletic Association have used his photos. Carl is shown here in March of 2009 setting his digital camera in the end zone at Rupp Arena in Lexington.
The Last Horseman starred on the seventh grade Whiz Kids at Ferguson, then when the high school closed he transferred elsewhere, made All State, played at Western Kentucky University, and became a biomedical researcher. He is shown here with his beloved Plymouth Prowler at a Ferguson reunion at the Parkette Drive In on New Circle Road in Lexington.
Rogue graduated from Ferguson in 1967, worked his way through Berea College, and became an investment banker. He is shown here at the Parkette Drive In in Lexington at a reunion for Ferguson alums living in Lexington.
This dangerous looking crew is the Ferguson 2nd Grade Class of 1971. This class graduated from Ferguson in 1977. Mark Wiles, John Richardson, Jack Richardson, Sherry Mink, Margaret Burton, Denise Morris, Jackie Biing, Tommy Ridner, Vilda Vaught, Barry Hall, Troy Cook, Sherry Clark, Diana xxx, Ricky Merritt, Shela Calhoun, Rhonda Troxtell, Alvin Brumley, Terry Glover, Shannon Russell, Kim Cowen, Lowell Valontour, Chuck Woods, Kevin Muse, Derrick Nevel, Kathy Jean, Embry Jean, Coy Cox, Franklin Stevens, Cathy York, Mrs. Atkins.
Redd Ryder played on the seventh grade Whiz Kids at Ferguson, then when the high school closed transferred elsewhere, made All State, played at the University of Illinois, tried playing professional basketball on several European teams, then finally came home and went into sales. Today he specializes in health, property and liability insurance for businesses. He still plays basketball at the recreational level and trains for and tries to run in at least one Marathon a month. He says when he retires he's going to write a book about the Whiz Kids, which he says even after high school, college and professional experiences remains the best team he ever played on.

This photo is one of our most treasured. It was given to us by the family of John Muse. This is the very first bus the Ferguson School District owned. When it was purchased from the Lexington dealership, it was the best bus in the county. Danville, Harrodsburg, Somerset and other small towns and cities did not even own buses, because their kids walked to school. The county systems tended to purchase the cheapest buses the state would allow. This, by comparison, was a Cadillac among school buses. Both the seats and backs were padded (most school buses back then had unpadded wooden seats and backs). The headlights were closed beams. Many of the school buses of the day did not even have headlights because they ran only in the daylight. The flowing lines of the fenders and hood were also considered ahead of their time since school buses back then tended to be quite boxy looking.

Notice the single small windshield wiper, the single small rear view mirror, and the stainless steel hand grip rails on both sides of the door.

Ferguson ran this bus for 10 years, then used it as a source of parts and a storage shed.

Pausing in this photo is (right) Supervising Principal Howard Moore and two of his star pupils, Bert Minton, center, and Melvin Cox, left. They have just finished taking down the flag at the end of the school day, and are standing in front of the then new administrative & home ec building, now the Ferguson Community Center. Bert would go on to serve as a teacher and coach in the Pulaski County Schools, then as Assistant Superintendant for six years, and Superintendant for 12 years. The boys are shown here in their Key Club blazers.


Mrs. Mary Hamm's first grade classroom in the 1960s. As Ferguson and the State Department of Education battled over whether to force the school to merge with Pulaski County, surprise visits by state inspectors became more frequent. One issue the state hoped to use was class size. The state had set a maximum of 30 students allowed in a grade school classroom. If Ferguson could not maintain that average, it would be grounds for closing. But Herbert Higgins and Bob Overbey tried to stay within that limit. This classroom contained 25 students.
Mrs. Mollie Hamilton's Sixth Grade classroom. As this photo is taken, the students are studying math. Unfortunately, there were 38 students in this class room, eight over the legal limit. State inspectors used such crowded conditions as reason to close Ferguson.
Bob Overbey at his principal's desk with Mrs. Marlene Meece, Secretary and Treasurer of the Board of Education. Herbert Higgins was Superintendant at this time.
Mrs. Joan Miller's Fourth Grade classroom. The 35 students are five over the state legal limit. Mrs. Miller was a native of New Jersey and a graduate of Rutgers University. These students did better on state standardized tests than their fourth grade peers at every school in the county plus all adjacent counties but the state ignored those results and focused on the crowded conditions.

Janet Henderson's Home Economics Classroom. Ferguson High School had only 98 students but 70 girls were enrolled in Home Ec classes, as seventh and eighth graders also benefitted from Ms. Henderson's instruction. It was the third finest Home Economics facility in the region, behind only Danville and Harrodsburg. Many of the smaller rural high schools in the region either had no Home Ec facilities, or taught Home Ec in a trailer or portable classroom parked behind the school. Ferguson girls were the envy of the county. This facility today functions as the Ferguson Community Center.

Mrs. Olive Williamson's Ferguson Library in December of 1966. By modern standards, this was not a huge library. But by the standards of 1960 it was very good. Ferguson in 1966-67 had the third largest library facility and third largest collection of books in the 12th region, behind only Danville and Somerset. There were no recently built schools in the region as of 1966. But in 1960 the state had passed a law requiring that all schools have libraries. All other schools except for Danville and Somerset simply converted a spare classroom to library use. But when Ferguson School was built, this room had been designed specifically as a library. It was much larger than a classroom and had certain library specific facilities built in. It also had a basic collection of two thousand books, which when H. T. Higgins took over as Superintendant of Ferguson he immediately supplemented with another $4,000 purchase (using funds from Federal Title I and Title II) to bring the total to three thousand. This was not only larger than the other schools in Pulaski County (outside of Somerset) and larger than the schools in other 12th region counties (outside of Danville), but was also larger than the book total of the county public libraries between Lexington and the Tennessee line. Librarians were required to keep circulation records. Ferguson records documented that its students checked out more books per student, and more of its students checked out books, than was shown by any other library in the region, including Danville and Somerset.

The l962 yearbook staff pose for a picture. From left are Mary Sue Cox, Howard Hunt, Randall Wheat and Pearl Hardwick.

Good yearbooks require money. The money comes from advertising. In the years when the Southern Railroad shops were thriving and Ferguson itself was a booming community, the staff had enough ad revenue to publish award winning yearbooks every year. After the shops closed and the town declined, ad revenue fell off, and the books were no longer competitive with the wealthier schools in Danville, Campbellsville, Harrodsburg, Middlesboro, Louisville and Lexington. Nevertheless, the school continued to publish yearbooks until the 1967-68 year, and today they remain a key source of information and photos.

In the Fall of 1960 students decided to restart the school newspaper and name it The Prospector. Shown here in October 1960 are Typist Sue Guy, Co Editor Judy Chitwood, Editor in Chief Cecil Goff, Sports Editor Tommy Wheeler (standing) and News Editor Herbert Beasley. Superintendent Howard Moore did not schedule them a Journalism Class, a room or corner of a room for their materials, or time to leave school to sell ads. They got together in their spare time in the library or a study hall room and ran it off on the school mimeograph machine. A typical paper was four pages and came out once a month. Elaine Cornell was their unofficial faculty "encourager." They were not able to produce the kind of award winning paper Ferguson had been known for in the past. But these five students at least re-established a school newspaper. When H. T. Higgins took over as superintendent he scheduled a Journalism class and hired a qualified teacher to both teach the class and sponsor the student newspaper. Thanks to these five students and the support of Higgins, Ferguson continued to have a school newspaper until the school closed.
Howard Moore took over at Ferguson in a time of declining resources. He was the one who had to cut long cherished programs and traditions. Inevitably there would be resistance. One of these battles erupted in April of 1961. Mr. Moore had announced there would be no senior trip to Florida. This tradition had gone back 40 years and students looked forward to it the whole time they were growing up. First the seniors announced they would simply wait until after graduation and then go on their own. They could do this since they had their own checking account and had been fund raising for several years. Moore replied that as Superintendent he was immediately transferring the student account to the school general fund and would not release the funds for any senior trip. The students responded by making signs and parading through Ferguson and Somerset demanding their Florida trip and, by the way, insisting the Superintendent could not legally take control of their checking account. Moore called in parents and demanded they force their students to return to school and give in, but the parents refused. Moore eventually gave in. The seniors kept their checking account and took their trip. But the classes below them did not raise such an uproar, and Moore did transfer their bank accounts. When those classes became seniors they found there was no money in their accounts and no one was ever able to find out where the money went.
So that Class of 1961 Florida Trip turned out to be the last one the school took, but the kids who went still remember it as one of their greatest experiences. They chartered a Greyhound bus, took four teachers (Jane Stewart, Lona Harris and the newly married Elaine Cornell Whitaker and Howard Whitaker) as chaperones, and stayed at this Silver Sands Motel in Daytona Beach for seven days. The motel fronted on the beach plus had a large pool. The students took a yacht trip to an off shore orange plantation, where they got to walk through groves of orange trees laden with fruit. The photo at the top left of this page is a scene from this yacht trip. They also spent a day at St. Augustine touring all the historical sites. Cecil Goff received a movie camera as a graduation gift and spent the Florida trip taking hours of footage. He is now converting the reels to a DVD to show at a future reunion. For almost half a century Ferguson was the only high school in the county which took a Florida trip and ending this tradition was another major step in the decline of the school.
The 1961 Fergusonian (yearbook) staff were, from left seated, Marlene Hodge, Judy Chitwood, Sue Guy and Lidie Jones. Standing from left are Dolphus Price, advisor Elaine Cornell, Bryan Morrow and Carol Brown Bray.
One of the most exciting things Ferguson did was produce a radio show. It was at WTLO 1480 AM and was called "The Ferguson High School Hour." A WTLO DJ operated the board for the Ferguson students. They sold ads and the revenue went to WTLO. The students did it for the experience, the fun, and to promote their school. The show came on at 3:30 pm five days a week. During the final year of the show, the students involved were Cecil Goff, Judy Chitwood, Sue Guy and Dolphus Price and the WTLO DJ was Sid Gavelon. The students selected the music to be played (sometimes dedicating songs to particular students), reported on school news and games, and commented on news and issues. Ferguson was the only school in the region to have its own radio show and garnered a lot of publicity from it. The last year of the radio show was 1960-61. This program was just one more example of how Ferguson was offering more experiences and attracting more visibility in the county and the region than its small enrollment would suggest. Students from as far away as Casey County were attending Ferguson because they thought it offered more than their home area schools.
Fall Festival continued to be a favorite Ferguson event right up to the school closing. Here, from left, are Frankie Nelson, Prince; Eldridge LaFavers, King; Barbara Meece, Queen; and Marilyn Ford, Princess.
Here, in October 1958, are two third graders from Margaret Cowan's third grade : Nancy Atchley as Princess and Gerald Phelps as Prince. The tradition of choosing two grade schoolers to accompany the high school king and queen seems to have originated in the 1930s.
The Queen and King of that 1958 Fall Festival were Berdina McDonald and Charles Norfleet. The Fall Festival had begun back in the 1920s as a sort of combination Harvest Festival and Community Fair, with competitions in things like pie baking and tomato growing. Eventually agriculture declined in the Ferguson area and the Fall Festival evolved into a school event.
Home Demonstration Agent Louise Craig advises Lida Jones (left) of Cabin Hollow and Elaine Pleasant of Nancy on their 4-H Record Books in preparation for the district competition to be held in Burkesville. Ferguson had an active 4-H program for most of its history until the program was dropped in the 1960s. This photo, however, proved very prophetic, as Lida Jones would go on to earn a Masters Degree in Home Economics from the University of Kentucky and herself become a career Home Demonstration Agent.
Doug Mitchell

This may have been one of the the last high school musical performances ever staged at Ferguson. In May 1967, Doug Mitchell sings "Ole Man River" while Mr. Young plays accompaniment on the piano. This is at the Seven Gables Restaurant in Burnside. Although basketball and other activities got most of the headlines, Ferguson had a very strong music program and Mr. Young was the last in a long line of talented teachers and directors. Ferguson was too small to field a competitive band or orchestra, but it was always competitive in chorus. Mr. Young developed many Ferguson youngsters into outstanding vocalists.


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