About the School
Our School's Motto
Every child can learn.
Our School's Vision
Zion Chapel School strives to provide a quality education so that all students are empowered to reach their maximum potential.
Our School's Mission
The mission of Zion Chapel School is to provide appropriate learning experiences with effective instruction in a safe and positive environment established through all the stakeholders creating a climate that is conducive to learning, thereby enabling each student to reach his or her maximum potential.
Children are unique and have different learning styles; therefore teaching methods address individual needs.
Student learning is the chief priority of the school, and students' learning needs are the primary focus of all decisions, based upon the belief that all students can learn.
Curriculum and instructional practices incorporate a variety of learning activities to accommodate differences in learning styles and abilities, while special services and resources are provided for exceptional students.
Assessments of student learning allow a variety of opportunities for students to demonstrate their understanding and application of essential knowledge and skills, thereby directing instruction.
The administration, faculty, staff, students, parents, and community share responsibility for advancing the school's mission and enhancing the students' self-esteem through positive relationships and mutual respect.
Students are provided challenging opportunities for active engagement in the learning process.
A safe and physically comfortable environment allows students to make appropriate decisions.
Through education and multicultural experiences, students can appreciate cultural diversity.
Commitment to continuous improvement is imperative for students to successfully become confident, self-directed learners.
During the 1850's the government opened up smaller holdings and free lands around the current Zion Chapel Community. The Scots and Scots-Irish from Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and north Alabama moved in to take advantage of this. They found the land unsuitable for extensive farming, so they raised sheep and cattle for an income, and supplemented this income by truck farming.
The turpentine and sawmill industries came to the community in the 1880's, and as a result, there was a large increase in the population of the community. The stock raising industry declined as more people started working in the turpentine and sawmill industries, while at the same time, agricultural interests expanded due to the increase in population.
In 1900, the first schoolhouse for this community was built. It was called the Carter Schoolhouse and was located a half-mile below the current school building. There was only one teacher, Jesse Brown, in the school, and he taught only the basic subjects. Students were not divided into grades, but came at almost any age to learn simply the three R's.
In 1904, a new school was built for the Zion Chapel community. It was a one-room building located 150 yards north of the present Zion Chapel Baptist Church. This building was called Zion Chapel, and was the first schoolhouse for the community to carry that name.
Teachers that taught in this building included Jesse Brown, Ben Lee, and Vernie Jernigan, but there was never more than one teacher at a time.
A third schoolhouse was built in 1914 which was located a half-mile north of Zion Chapel Baptist Church. The schoolhouse contained only one room which was about forty feet square. A curtain was put up to divide it into two rooms, and the first through the seventh grades were taught. The schoolhouse was heated with a Franklin stove, and later a potbellied stove was added.
As a general rule, when a person completed the seventh grade, his schooling was over. However, some students continued their education in Elba after their completion of the seventh grade at Zion Chapel. In order to attend school at all, a person had to walk, because as of yet there was no other transportation.
At this time, there were only five months of school, which began about the last of October. The school year began after cotton harvesting time and lasted until the time of spring planting.
Jesse Brown, a former teacher at Zion Chapel, was now on the Coffee County School Board, and was very instrumental in the growth of Zion Chapel. In 1916, partly because of his influence, a thirty-foot addition was added to the Zion Chapel schoolhouse.
The years between 1916-1926 were good years for the farmers of the Zion Chapel community. Agriculture expanded, which made the need for long-time, low-rate financing evident.
The Federal Land Bank was organized and started operating in 1916. This was a government agency which furnished loans at a low rate of interest payable in twenty or thirty years.
In late 1928 and early 1929, farm prices began to decline, and farmers began to find it difficult to make payments on loans. The Federal Land Bank began foreclosures, and soon some farmers were forced to become tenants.
At the same time, some members of the community were making an effort to consolidate five schools within a fifteen-mile radius. The schools were Zion Chapel, Perdue, Evergreen, Wise's Mill, and Double Head. The suggestion to consolidate these schools was put to a vote, but was voted down. In 1930, a second attempt was made to consolidate the schools, but this attempt also failed. After the second failure, several people, including Jesse Brown, Alvie Wilkes, M.C. Wilkes and Joe Deal, led an active effort to convince the people to vote for it.
While the campaign to consolidate the schools was going on, the Federal Government was introducing methods of providing assistance to the farmers. In 1933, the Rehabilitation Program was organized. Its purpose was to aid the farmers in buying and developing farms for low-income families. It was also set up to give guidance in working out farm and home budgets and programs. The Farm Security Administration was organized to continue this work in 1936.
1936 was also a year that a vote on the consolidation of the schools was held for the third and final time. The motion passed this time, and plans were made for the students from the five schools to attend one school which went through ninth grade.
In 1937, a report by Dr. Karl Shaffer was given to the Federal authorities that a number of schools or community centers were necessary. The Federal Government agreed that some schools should be built, and as a part of the New Deal introduced by President Roosevelt, it appropriated funds for three schools to be built in Coffee County, which was an experimental county. After some consideration, it was decided that the Zion Chapel community would be one of the areas for such a school. In order to provide a site for the building, Jesse Brown sold fourteen acres to the government for $1.00. Work on the construction of the building began in late 1937. In the meantime, while waiting for the schoolhouse to be completed, students had makeshift school wherever a place was available for schooling.
In 1939, the new building was completed at last. Upon its completion, the building contained an auditorium, a vocational agricultural unit, a manual arts shop, library, health clinic unit, and several rooms suitable for classroom work. Besides this, it contained inside toilets, running water, and electrical fixtures for cooking and lighting. The schoolhouse was heated from a central steam heating plant, and had shower baths.
Another tradition begun at Zion Chapel during the 1939-1940 school year was the banquet for the two highest grades. All the teachers at Zion Chapel and the important education personnel of Coffee County were invited to attend. Everybody who came dressed up in their finest for the occasion. At the banquet, a speech was given to the members of the two highest grades, usually by a well-known, well-educated person.
The two highest grades also had an annual beach trip, a tradition that was begun shortly after the school was erected and which lasted until about 1960. Each year the second highest grade would take the highest grade to the beach for the day.
In 1940-41 J. Burns Clements became the second principal of Zion Chapel. He later left this position to get a job at Fort Rucker. Since him, the principals of Zion Chapel have included Annabelle Wilkes and Arkey Johnson, who were acting principals for three months during the war; Gordon Swain; Harold Collins, who was the Superintendent of the Pike and Mobile County Schools; L.L. Farris; Bill Daughtry; Ned Young; Douglas Green and Letcher Mitchell.
Zion Chapel was steadily growing in attendance. The schoolrooms were getting more and more crowded. Around 1945, to provide more room in the school, the county gave Zion Chapel the old Double Head School building to be moved to the campus, and Zion Chapel had three extra classrooms. As a result, a lunchroom was able to be established in the main building.
As the school grew, the activities it included grew. In the 1949-1950 school year, Annabelle Wilkes sponsored the first Zion Chapel yearbook. It was called Zionist, and the entire yearbook was handwritten by Annabelle Wilkes. However, the second yearbook did not come out until ten years later when Lamar Foley sponsored it. It was sponsored regularly after that and included such sponsors as Shirley Nelson, Jerry Hudson, John C. Windham, Sylvia Lowery, Johnny Sanders, Melinda Sanders, and Rachel Bryan.
In the fall of 1954, Zion Chapel, which previously had only covered through the ninth grade, added a tenth grade. At about the same time, barbecue pits were built in back of the school, and a man-made lake added to the campus, separated from one already there by a dam.
An eleventh grade was added in the 1955-1956 school year. It was during this school year that the first homecoming took place. The homecoming was neither a basketball nor football homecoming. The entire school, which was grades one through eleven, voted on the Homecoming Queen on a secret ballot, and all the girls in certain grades were competing for the title. The three girls receiving the highest number of votes were the queen and attendants. The winners were kept secret until Homecoming night itself. On that night there was a barbecue, and the first Zion Chapel Homecoming Queen, Peggy Fuller, was announced. Peggy Fuller, now Peggy Storey, taught first grade at Zion Chapel for many years.
In 1957, homecoming elections were changed so that only a senior girl could be Homecoming Queen, and only the high school students voted on queen.
About this time, Zion Chapel was beginning to get crowded again. For the second time, to provide the school with more room, the county gave Zion Chapel an empty schoolhouse. This time the building, the Bluff Springs schoolhouse, had to be moved over ten miles to get to the Zion Chapel campus. The whole community turned out to help in this project. The building had to be moved in three sections in order to fit on trucks. People who led the move were Mr. Grady McWaters, his son, Edgar McWaters, and Mr. Perry Daughtry. With the addition of this building to the Zion Chapel school grounds, Zion Chapel was enabled to have a senior high school.
In the fall of 1956, Zion Chapel became a complete high school with the addition of the twelfth grade. The first graduation occurred in the spring of 1957. L.L. Farris, a former principal of Zion Chapel, was then the Coffee County Superintendent of Education.
Basketball began in the fall of 1957, and with its arrival came the senior high colors of red and white and the adoption of the REBEL mascot.
The junior high colors, which had always been green and white, remained the same until 1961 when football activities became a part of the school's activities.
During the 1959-1960 school year, the Zion Chapel chapter of the National Beta Club was organized by Jessie Merle Hornsby. The charter members of this club were Peggy Sue Chancellor, Martha Ann Flowers, Sara Elizabeth Fuller, Carolyn Sue Hussey, Diane Smith, Joan Wilkerson, Patsy Wambles, and William Franklin Wilkes. Buddy Ammons served as reporter for the club while Donald Arnold held the post of treasurer, Roxie Stone served a s vice-president, and Lynda Carr filled the position of president.
A special class was organized in September, 1959. It was located in a building to itself and there were no more than fifteen students in the class so that each student could receive more individual attention.
In early 1961, a guidance program was set up and a place was made available for conferences with the students. More school equipment was added and the courses offered increased.
Zion Chapel's first football team arrived with the fall of 1961. The junior high colors changed to red and white in support of the team, whose members were: Tony Messina, Eddie Hill, Starling Jinright, Cecil Mobley, Maynard Manring, Donny Hardy, Marion Fuller, Robert Matthews, Donny Marler, Robert Jinright, John Cotton, John Daniels, Scotty Brown, Kenneth Chancellor, Rudolph Harrelson, Reginal Stewart, Harry Driggers, and Donald Green. The team was coached by Jay Byrd Donaldson and John Windham.
By this time, Zion Chapel had twenty-three acres of land, all of which had been sold to the school by Jesse Brown. A football field had been built named Green Memorial Stadium, and an Alma Mater had been written.
Alma Mater, Fairest Mother
Zion Chapel, Dear Old School!
Here we learn life's grandest lessons;
Love of God and Golden Rule.
Love of Country, Love of Learning
Love of Truth and Liberty
Here we sing our Heart's devotion
Alma Mater, Hail to thee!
Zion Chapel's growth continued in 1962 with the construction of a new lunchroom, which was built apart from the main building. Eva Ammons, Eva Kelley, and Clara Wambles composed the new lunchroom's staff.
1965 was the year when fun was really introduced to the students at Zion Chapel. This year was the year that saw the replacement of the Junior-Senior Banquet with the Junior-Senior Prom. The year 1966 viewed the erection of the gymnasium, while 1967 witnessed the construction of a lab and reading room.
For the next six years, things were reasonably still around the Zion Chapel campus. Then, in the 1973-1974 school year, Melinda Sanders sponsored the Rebel yearbook and with it, the first annual campus beauty pageant. Barbara Ellis was crowned Campus Beauty, Shelia Mobley was awarded Senior Beauty, Terri Wilson won the title of Junior Beauty, Sharon Jacobs was named Sophomore Beauty and Cindy Simmons was named Freshman Beauty. Also during this school year, the Double Head schoolhouse was torn down because it needed too many repairs.
In the time between 1974-1976, the Special Class was discontinued, gray was added as a school color, and the auditorium was turned into a Home Economics department and a library. The old library was transformed into two classrooms.
1977 was a record year for progress at Zion Chapel High School. During its summer, the pond in back was drained because of the danger it posed to the school. Air-conditioners were also installed in the high school building during the summer, and a second Zion Chapel High school Band was organized. The biggest achievement, though, occurred shortly after the 1977-78 school year had begun. This achievement was the completion of the new Zion Chapel Elementary building, which accommodated kindergarten through sixth grade students. The elementary students moved in a few weeks after the school year started, providing Zion Chapel with the opportunity of chalking up another triumph.
During the 1977-78 school year, Debbie Pyfrom became interested in writing a history of Zion Chapel High School. She completed her project in the form of a research paper for her English class. Her search began in the library in the vertical file where she found papers done by Dr. Irwin Hammer in 1939 and Bill Daughtry in 1960. She was also able to find an article in the Alabama Rural Electric News written in 1956. Other than past issues of Zion Chapel's yearbook, REBEL, the rest of her information came from word of mouth. Those who helped were M.C. Wilkes, Rachel Bryan, Douglas Green, Annabelle Wilkes, Sylvia Hussey, Peggy Storey, and Eva Ammons. This history was first published in the REBEL 79.