From humble beginnings as a simple two-story brick schoolhouse built on a donated tract of land in the northeast corner of Limestone County, Ardmore High School has seen exponential growth over the last century. The school will mark its 100th year Saturday with an open house celebration in the library from 2 to 4 p.m.
Open to anyone who has a connection to the school, the event is expected to attract as many as 200 alumni, former teachers and principals, said event organizer Yolandia Eubanks. She said the oldest known Ardmore graduate will be honored. Born in the Piney Grove area on a sprawling farm, Mable Elizabeth Scott Hodges, now 101 years old, started her education at Cedar Hill School, which is said to have existed well before the turn of the 20th century. Cedar Hill School closed its doors in 1931. Right around that same time, Hodges transferred to Ardmore High School, where she graduated in 1936 with just four other students. According to an informal census conducted in 1930 by lifelong resident and local mail carrier Odie Jones, Ardmore had a population of 259.
After graduating from Ardmore and getting married, Hodges moved to Decatur, where she is still an active member of Southside Baptist Church.
In addition to getting to meet Ardmore High's most-senior graduate, student ambassadors will provide visitors a tour of the newly renovated school. Over the summer, the school received new lockers, drop ceilings, flooring, restrooms and a fresh coat of paint throughout.
Tours start in the library, where light refreshments will be served and alumni and former staff can mingle and catch up on the past.
Eubanks said it was important that current students be part of the celebration because it allows them to be part of an extended community.
“They need to know their community is behind them; that they are already part of this community and that one day, they will get the chance to support the next generation of Ardmore students," Eubanks said. “Plus, it's a great way for everyone to get together and share their stories and memories of their time at the school."
The longevity of the school speaks volumes, said Eubanks, who recently moved back to Ardmore after living in Tuscaloosa for 39 years.
Drawn back to Ardmore where her roots run deep, Eubanks' grandparents, Levi and Bessie Magnusson, lived in Ardmore all their lives and attended Cedar Hill School until it closed. Her mother, Janie Ruth Magnusson Eubanks, graduated from Ardmore High in 1949. Eubanks graduated from the school in 1979.
“There is no place like home,” she said. “One of the reasons I came back is because this is such a supportive community where everyone here is very close-knit.”
Now with more than 1,000 students, Ardmore High School is hardly the simple schoolhouse that once stood in its place. Home to a 5A athletics program, the school serves students in two states and four counties.
The open house will take place at the school, located at 30285 Ardmore Avenue.
Others instrumental in planning the Ardmore High School 100-year celebration include Tressie Davis McLemore, Betty Bryant, Ronny Cornelison, Gary Hargrove, Crystal Tucker, Beverly Browning and Terry Whit.