Early Years at Grassy Point Location
Southport is an unincorporated community which lies approximately ten miles to the north of Panama City near North Bay. The U.S. Post Office Department states that a post office was officially established on May 6, 1893. The community was then known as "Anderson." The name was changed to Southport on June 15, 1907.
There has been a school in the Southport area since the late 1870's or early 1880's. The first school was housed in a log church on Grassy Point, about one and a half miles south of the present log building. Later a two-story frame building replaced the log building. The upper floor was used as a Masonic Hall and the lower floor was used for church services and a school. Sometime after this, school was taught in a dwelling house located on Fanning Bayou much nearer the present school site. Later classes were taught in other houses, quite often in the home of the teacher.
First School at Present Site
About thirty new families moved into the area in 1906 upon the completion of a large lumber mill. A four-room, two-story frame building was constructed on the present school site at this time. Only the two rooms on the ground floor were used as classrooms. In 1918 an outside stairway was added to the building, and two rooms on the second floor were utilized as classrooms.
Sometime after 1930 the two-story building was remolded into a one-story building. It had three large rooms. Growth in the school enrollment during the ensuing years necessitated the addition of partitions. With the addition of these partitions, the building had six classrooms.
The school faced many problems during this period. The rooms were small and lighting was poor. Since electricity was not available, kerosene lamps were the only source of light. Two children sat together in crudely-made desks. There were few blackboards. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, each teacher had to serve as janitor. She along with her children, swept the room each day and on cold days kept the fire going in the old wood-burning stove. Fuel for these stoves was provided by the teacher. Each child brought his own drinking glass; and on days when the pump was not working, he went to the neighbors for water.
The first school lunchroom was begun in 1940. The kitchen was a small wooden building and the dining room was part of the school yard near the kitchen. Children and teachers sat on long benches and ate from rustic tables.
Beginnings of Currently Used Facility
The first part of the present school building was constructed in 1943. It consisted of three classrooms and an office. The old building continued to be used for classes until the addition of more rooms in 1950. At this time a health room, faculty room, boiler room, kitchen and cafetorium, library and two new classrooms were added.
Two temporary buildings were added in 1961 and another the following year. These were needed because of the increase in enrollment and because of a new class for exceptional children. At this time the school enrollment was approximately 225 students. The staff consisted of a principal, seven classroom teachers, a special education teacher, a physical education consultant, and a part-time secretary, three lunchroom workers, and two janitorial helpers. The school had an active parent/teacher association consisting of 85 members.
Several expansion programs were completed between 1975 and 1986. In 1975, four acres of land were purchased and used for a playground which included and 80' x 125' concrete surface for basketball and other games. In March 1976, eight new classrooms, a media center, and a sewage disposal plant were completed. In 1977, the school grounds were completely enclosed and walk-in-gates provided students access to the play area after school hours. All rooms and the cafetorium were air-conditioned, and the office complex was renovated. A concrete circular drive and bus-loading area were constructed. In 1988, three classrooms, a new cafetorium and kitchen, a teachers' lounge, and an office complex for the P.E. teacher were completed.
1999-2000 School Year
Due to continued growth and expansion of our once small community, the school has also grown in size. Presently the school has an enrollment of over 750 students.
This year will also mark the completion of yet another addition to our present facility. This project will include nine new classrooms, two resource rooms, and the rennovation of four classrooms. Retrofiting for the school network will be included with the completion of the this new structure.
As always, the community of Southport prides itself with being a microcosm of people who work together for the betterment of society. Southport Elementary proudly serves as the nucleus of this community.