DeLand High School is located in DeLand , Florida , which is just minutes from Daytona Beach. Since 1961 it has been located on the corner of Plymouth and Hill Avenues. It was originally designed to hold 1,200 students. For the past several years, DeLand High School has undergone many changes.
Presently DeLand High School, "Home of the Bulldogs", has an enrollment of approximately 2,500 students. Because of the influx of students, all of the buildings have been renovated. Portables are about to become obsolete. A new gym, cafeteria, and auditorium have been added along with a new softball field. The old weight room and dance room have been torn down. The old auditorium has been converted into the new dance room. New student parking was added when the new gym was constructed.
Aerial shots of DeLand High School courtesy of Aero Photo
DeLand High School began as the DeLand Public School, a wooden structure built in 1898, on the northwest corner of Clara and Rich Streets. An addition was constructed in 1907 consisting of 14 classrooms and an auditorium which seated 600. Some of the funding for the addition was raised by the Ladies Improvement Society. Mrs. John B. Stetson contributed $1,000. At that time, the school served students in grades one through ten. Because of the DeLand Public School’s affiliation with Stetson University, students seeking an eleventh and twelfth grade education could attend classes at Stetson.
In 1917, a brick building was constructed on the same site, to house the junior high and senior high students. Enrollment for that year reached 509 pupils, 104 of those were in the high school. The first High School Graduation was on May 24, 1918, when twenty four students received their high school diplomas. Dr. B. F. Ezell was Principal of DeLand Public School. During World War I, DeLand students assisted in the war effort by planting gardens. Every student joined the Red Cross for a $.25 membership. Students also bought Liberty Bonds at $50 each for the DeLand school by each contributing $.05 per month.
In 1920, a new wing was added to the school that included a library and a new auditorium. Students in the outlying areas, like Orange City, were bused to DeLand. Students from DeBary had to ride the train or find lodging in DeLand during the week. The school didn’t have a cafeteria but they did have a lunchroom. Alice Wyatt, a former student and teacher, remembers buying mashed potatoes and cabbage for $.05 a serving.
Before the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accredited DeLand High School, many students had attended the Stetson Academy (later Stetson University) for their high school education. In 1924, the first Athenian, DeLand High School yearbook, was published and dedicated to the Superintendent of Volusia Schools, George Marks, a former principal at DeLand High School. The Growler, school newspaper, also made its debut in 1924. At about this time the school colors were changed from orange and black to purple and white. During the 1920’s, proms were held at either the Benson Springs Hotel or the Country Club in DeLeon Springs. Football games were played at Stetson Field and basketball games were held in a “ramshackle” building nearby.
In the 1930’s, the school had a full time dean, a director of student services, a band and a glee club. In the 1950’s and 6 0’s students spent their after school hours at the Sugar Top on the corner of Amelia Avenue and Highway 92 (now Hampton’s Restaurant) and the Donut Shop.
DeLand High School Band Master, John Heney, was a member of John Phillip Sousa’s band where he played the xylophone. He brought his experience to his Deland High band students who won numerous awards throughout the state. In 1955, a cafeteria was added to the facility.
In 1961, a new DeLand High School was constructed on the corner of Plymouth and Hill Avenue. It was designed to hold 1200 students. The new school was originally scheduled to open in the spring but did not open until December. There was no heat for a while because birds were nesting in the heating system.
When the Librarian, Alice Wyatt moved into the new library, her only equipment was a record player and film projector. After the move to the new facility, the colors were changed to green and gold. Many students and parents remember a yardstick in the administrative offices used to measure a girl’s skirt length. Short skirts were frowned upon in the early 1960’s.
In 1969-70, Southwestern High School students were integrated into DeLand High School. Dr. Chris Colwell was a student at that time. He later served as Principal from 1991-1993.
In the 1970’s and 1980’s, DeLand High was the only high school on the west side of the county, except for Taylor Junior Senior High in Pierson. At one point enrollment topped 3,000. When Deltona High opened in 1988, it temporarily alleviated the overcrowding. Presently DeLand High School, “Home of the Bulldogs”, has an enrollment of approximately 2,500 students.
Today, many alumni work at the school - teachers, clerical, custodial, and cafe staff.