HISTORY OF EDUCATION IN PASCO COUNTY
Gulf Junior High School/Gulf Middle School
This page was last revised on Oct. 24, 2019.
More pictures from GJHS and GMS are here.
Students in grades 6-11 attended Gulf High School when it opened in 1922. The lower grades were referred to as the junior department of the school. Later, students in grades 7-9 attended Gulf Junior-Senior High School.
Pierce Junior High School operated in the late 1950s, usually with the same principal as Gulf High School, in the red brick building on Main Street which had been Pierce Elementary School.
On Mar. 15, 1959, the St. Petersburg Times reported that Pierce Junior High School would be unable to accommodate the sixth grade from Richey Elementary in the following year and would be filled to capacity with grades 7 and 8.
On April 14, 1959, Howard L. Grayson was appointed principal of Pierce Junior High School.
On May 12, 1959, these teachers were appointed at Pierce Junior High School: David H. Clark, Jr., Albert E. Woody, Mrs. Marion L. Crawford, Jr., Mrs. Paula Anderson, Hazel M. Bates, Mrs. Grace A. Johnson, James W. Pritchard, Jr., Miss Clarice Helen Thompson. (In 2015 Clarice Thompson Emley turned 104 years old. She was living in Hudson.)
On April 28, 1960, these teachers were appointed to Pierce Junior High School: Marion L. Crawford, Grace Johnson, J. Wesley Pritchard, Herbert L. Whalley, David H. Clark, Jr., Bruce Dutton, Bobby Lee Knowles, Clarice Thompson, Albert E. Woody, John Shea.
Apparently, in 1961 junior high students began attending school in the red brick building at Grand Boulevard and Gulf Drive, and the name Gulf Junior High School was adopted.
In May 1964 David H. Clark Jr. was re-appointed principal of Gulf Junior High School.
Newspaper articles on Nov. 27, 1965, and Feb. 28, 1966, mentioned that David “Hap” Clark was principal of Gulf Junior High School. During the 1965-66 school year, Gulf Junior High School was headquartered in the red brick building which later became Schwettman Education Center.
On Feb. 28, 1966, the St. Petersburg Times reported, “The seventh grade boys at Gulf Junior High School, New Port Richey, have an enviable basketball record. They played 10 games, all away from home, and won all 10. They are the champions of the new junior high conference composed of Hernando Junior High, Brooksville; Webster Junior High; South Sumter Junior High, Bushnell; Citrus Junior High, Inverness; Crystal River Junior High and Gulf Junior High. The principal of Gulf Junior, ‘Hap’ Clark, athletic director J. C. Aikens, and the coach, Ed Campbell, treated the team to a meal Friday.”
David Drake recalls that when he was in junior high in 1967-68 the mascot was the Buccaneers.
On July 19, 1968, the St. Petersburg Times identified W. R. Durden as principal of Gulf Junior-Senior High School.
In the 1970-71 school year and perhaps earlier also, Gulf Junior High School met in the same building as Gulf High School on Louisiana Avenue. High school students attended in the morning and junior high students attended in the afternoon.
In the fall of 1970, the Gulf Junior High Baby Bucs football team had an undefeated 6-0 record and were the West Coast Junior High Conference champs for the second straight year. Gulf won its final game 26-8, defeating the Hernando Baby Leopards at Brooksville. The Hernando touchdown was only the fourth scored against the Baby Bucs during the season. In their first meeting Hernando scored two touchdowns and Pasco was the only other team to score a touchdown against the Buccaneer defensive unit.
Gulf Junior High School opened in a new facility on Sept. 7, 1971, with Thomas Weightman as Principal. The school was a new building located on Ridge Road (since renamed School Road), although seventh grade students initially attended the Gulf Junior High Annex on the Boulevard.
Bill Phillips writes, “We they opened the new school School Road in 1971 as the Junior High... We as a school voted on the name Raiders (probably because of the popularity of the Oakland Raiders).”
The 1972 yearbook indicates the team nickname was the Raiders. Robin Barrus (GHS ’76) recalls voting for the name “Raiders” the first year she attended Gulf Junior High on School Road.
In 1972 the school board considered changing the name of Gulf Junior High School, concerned that there was confusion among the names Gulf Junior High School, Gulf High School, and the old Gulf High School, which was then serving as a junior high school annex. However, a survey revealed that teachers and students at Gulf Junior High were satisfied with the name and wanted to keep it.
On Feb. 9, 1973, Beverly Daniel Herold, 22, a physical education teacher at Gulf Junior High School, was killed in an auto accident.
In October 1975 the Gulf Junior High Raiders defeated Bayonet Point Junior High 14-0, winning the first ever Pasco-Hernando Conference title.
On Nov. 5, 1975, the top administrative staffs at Gulf Comprehensive High School and Gulf Junior High School were swapped. High school principal Arthur O'Donnell, curriculum assistant Terry Graham, and guidance counselor James Pritchard moved to the junior high, and junior high principal Ed Campbell took over as principal at the high school, accompanied by his assistant Arthur Engle.
At the start of the 1977-78 school year, Gulf Junior High and Gulf High switched buildings, with Gulf Junior High moving to the building on Louisiana Ave.
In February 1979 Richard Koop became principal.
The 1984 yearbook, called Raider’s Digest, includes an article in which the school is called Gulf Junior High School. It shows Richard Koop as principal and William Kotowski and Gus Manticos as assistant principals.
Yearbooks from 1984 to 1991 show students in 7th and 8th grades. The 1992 yearbook shows students in grades 6, 7, and 8.
The 1987 yearbook is called Raiders. The school is identified as Gulf Middle School.
In the 1987-88 school year the team mascot was changed to the Bears. The 1988 yearbook staff voted to name the yearbook The Den - Where the Bears Hang Out. The yearbook reported, “Gulf Middle School made many headlines with a new mascot, a new grading policy, computers in the classrooms, a successful gift wrap fundraiser, Lazervideo disk program in math classes, and the opportunity for new friendships and learning experiences.”
Chris DeCubellis recalls that students voted for the new name from a list of several choices and he believes the fact that the Chicago Bears won the Super Bowl on Jan. 26, 1986, was a factor in the result. An alum from the GHS Class of 1991 recalls, “When we were in 8th grade all the graduating 8th graders were given the opportunity to vote on the new school mascot. Our choices were leave it as the Raiders or change it to the Bears. We overwhelmingly chose Bears.” Ed Mertsching recalls, “I’m pretty sure it was ’86, the students had a vote between the Bears and the Buccaneers. That was the same year as SuperBowl XX, with the Bears who had Refrigerator Perry. So the whole hoopla to do with the Bears had an influence with Gulf Middle School voting on the Bears as their Mascot.” On Facebook, Tara Gregory recalled, “Actually it was one of the years I was there, 87-88 or 88-89, and we all got to vote on our choice of the new mascot. The Dolphins were one of the choices along with the Bears.” However, a former GMS teacher recalls, “The staff and students were given some options for input, but in the end, he [the principal] pulled a fast one and made his own choices. We returned from our summer to a pink school and a Bear as our mascot. We had no choice.”
In a 2014 email, principal Richard Koop wrote, “About the mascot name change, it was all about a change in the school from a junior high school to a middle school and the corresponding change in philosophy. At that time not everyone agreed with the change, especially to a teaching approach that centered more on the children’s developmental needs than on the course mastery concerns that were considered too ‘High Schoolish.’ A lot of pressure was placed on staff that had been junior high staff to make the change quickly. In order to make a clean break from being a junior high school a decision was made to make a change in the mascot. The student council, with Gus Manticos as its sponsor, worked through this situation and chose the Bears as the new mascot. Remember, although most of our students went to GHS, it was not the only school they attended. Had the school remained a jhs, the name change idea would not have come up, I am sure.”
In May 2014 Jason Joens became Principal, replacing Stan Trapp, who retired. Mr. Joens had been principal of River Ridge Middle School.
At the start of the 2014-15 school year the team mascot was changed to the Buccaneers, to correspond to Gulf High School.
During the summer of 2019, Joens transferred to Fivay High School, to become the principal. He was succeeded by Amy Riddle, who had begun her career as a music teacher at Gulf Middle School in 1993, but had more recently been an assistant principal at other schools.
On Oct. 23, 2019, the Gulf Middle School Buccaneers football team defeated River Ridge Middle School, 36-26, completing a 6-0 season and winning the conference championship.
SEPT. 9, 2003 PHOTOS