Pompano Beach High School, the second oldest high school in Broward County, has a rich and colorful history. This is its story as told by Bud Garner, one of Pompano Beach High’s earliest graduates, a member of the Pompano Beach Historical Society, and the unofficial historian of the city of Pompano Beach. It is added to by Steve Zimmerman of the Pompano Beach High School Alumni Association.
From 1897 to 1910, a one room, one teacher school was sufficient to accommodate the educational needs of the fledgling community in Northeast Broward County.
The town of Pompano was formed in the year 1908, so in 1910, the need for a larger school was answered with the building of a two-room grammar school (kindergarten through sixth grade) on N.E. 1st Street and 2nd Avenue. The junior high and high school students who lived in Pompano at this time attended Ft. Lauderdale High. Then, in 1916, a new school on N.E. 4th Street (currently the location of Pompano Beach Middle School) was built. It had five rooms into which fifty students moved. Eventually, the town added to the grammar school, creating the high school. In 1926, the auditorium and the north building were built. The gymnasium and the other facilities were added after 1945.
The first class to graduate from Pompano High was in 1928. There were twelve graduating seniors that year. The 1929 graduating class also numbered twelve members. In 1950, students who lived from Deerfield to Oakland Park attended Pompano High.
Sometime in the early years, the first school paper was published. The name of that publication was Sea Spray. It later became known as The Oracle, and eventually it gave way to the current school newspaper, The Tornado Times.
The first yearbook at Pompano High was done by the Photographic Club. All of the material was typewritten and incorporated with photographs in a folder. The first published yearbook called The Beanpicker, was printed in 1942. This remained the name of the yearbook until the school closed in 1985.
Basketball and football were the first major school sports, and the teams were known as the Beanpickers, because Pompano was primarily an agricultural town in those days. For the Beanpickers, the sports schedules were hard to make because of the large number of boys that played and the lack of transportation to games. Because there were not many other schools close by, the teams often had to travel long distances to games.
Pompano had its first ever undefeated football season in 1941. It was marred by one tie game with Eau Gallie High School. Pompano played six-man football, which was popular because of the small schools and limited players at the time. The year 1944 saw an undefeated, untied football season. This time, they played 11-man football against larger and stronger schools.
Pompano fielded many championship athletic teams, including basketball, swimming, golf, and tennis. Pompano also had award-winning bands, orchestras, and choruses, and excelled in arts, sciences, and academics.
The year 1942 saw thirty-three Beanpickers serving in the armed forces of the United States with many more to follow before World War II ended in 1945. Six former Beanpickers died in WWII, three of whom were members of the undefeated football team.
The school’s Latin motto, non summis sed ascendentes, means, “Not at the summit, but ascending.” The school song is “Washington and Lee Swing” (the fight song of Washington and Lee University).
Because of the westward shift in population in Broward County in the 1980’s, Pompano Beach High School was closed in 1985 amid much political controversy and community protest. It remained closed for the next 12 years, and the building was used for adult education and community programs.
But Pompano High graduates remained fiercely loyal to their alma mater. The spirit of the Beanpickers and Golden Tornadoes lingering in the hallways remained dormant for 12 years while the school was closed, but it could never be eradicated. In 1997, the school reopened as Broward County’s first all-magnet school, offering a curriculum specializing in International Affairs with Information Technology.
With the reopening of the school and the bold decision of the students to embrace and nurture once again the history and traditions of their Alma Mater, Pompano Beach High School became one of the community’s premier institutions of learning. If the recent graduates are an indication of the quality and character of the graduates to come, the generations of alumni whom they have joined should feel confident that the spirit of accomplishment, pride, cooperation, and companionship known by all Pompano Beach High Alumni will continue for generations to come.