Bagley Middle School celebrates 25 years
Mar 26, 2014 | 1098 views | 0 0 comments | 32 32 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Current BMS principal Spencer Gazaway is among a few of the hundreds who attending the Silver Anniversary of Bagley Middle School on Sunday.
Current BMS principal Spencer Gazaway is among a few of the hundreds who attending the Silver Anniversary of Bagley Middle School on Sunday.
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Hundreds of people attended the 25th Anniversary Celebration for Bagley Middle School on Sunday afternoon. Current Principal Spencer Gazaway welcomed the crowd in a program that began at 2:20. Founding Principal Dr. Danny Harkleroad gave the invocation.

Tim Howard, an original teacher at BMS, gave a speech about the school:

“Twenty-five years ago today, Murray County and the Murray County Schools were very different. Coker, Woodlawn and North Murray were not even dreamed of -- in fact, we hadn't created a new school since the 1950s. Eton, Northwest and Chatsworth had not had any renovations. What you know as Gladden was called Murray Middle. The present Murray High was under construction, and this new school to be called Bagley existed only on paper. This plan to accommodate a growing Murray County student population had been initiated by Superintendent Pete Adams (who eventually did some substituting in this building) and was being implemented by Superintendent Doug Griffin (whose granddaughter now teaches here). Mr. Griffin appointed a special committee of teachers, administrators, retired educators, a board of education member, and community representatives to recommend names, mascots, and colors for the tow middle schools. The names were approved by the Board, so Bagley was named for Mr. Ray Bagley, a well-known educator who had served as teacher, high school principal, superintendent, and chairman of the board in a career that spanned most of five decades. So, Braves we would be -- still recalling the long Native American history of our area. Remember, Braves were here many centuries before any "mountaineers even knew we existed.

“Within six months, however, MCHS was completed and occupied. Their old building was mostly gutted and rebuilt, so Bagley became a reality. Frankly, it was not a certainly. School was set to start later than usual and the rebuilding came down to the wire. And, quite frankly, there was not a budget to open the building since we hadn't yet "earned" any state money through the new QBE funding formulas. Somehow, the vision of a guy named Harkleroad and his ability to pull together a diverse faculty from several places who was not afraid of a lot of physical work made it a reality. Of course, a "loan" from Dr. H helped, too.

“So, we packed, loaded, unloaded twice, and unpacked, scrounged and scrubbed hand-me-down, left-behind and discarded furniture, and were called thieves by some of the same people we had worked with the year before when we went back to the old school to get other Murray County School property to bring to Bagley. Most of the eighth grade and part of the seventh grade teachers worked 16 and 18 hour days the weekend before school started to be as ready as possible for three grades of hormones on Monday. Somehow, we made it, but we had no tile in the hallways, no doors to our classrooms, no intercom (sometimes a blessing), and not even pencil sharpeners. In fact, the exterior doors didn't even have locks on them, so anyone could have broken in and taken anything we had -- but then probably no one wanted our hand-me-downs.

“As the year progressed, we realized that we really had created the special place Dr. H and been talking about from the beginning. That spirit and that pride in accomplishing something good took root and grew, spreading through the faculty and staff, the students and parents, and into the community. The shared experience created a bond, a camaraderie, a feeling that not all schools had. We really became a family, and like a family, we'd disagree, we'd fuss, even cuss, flip birds, and there were almost a few fights, bet we circled the wagons pretty quickly and came out fighting back when people referred to us as just the jock school or said that our academics were lacking.

“We established traditions, a Junior Beta Club (with nearly 100 members the first year), strong sports programs, great music and art classes, a new technology class (yes, we had a full contingent of electives back then, like a middle school is supposed to, quiz bowl, clubs, dances, assemblies, pep rallies, Awards Night, Education Fair, contests and recognitions, Olympic Says or Field Days (now Carnival Days), and one more tradition…eating!

“We were and have mostly remained a hale and hearty bunch, but back then we had a Friday "eating" tradition. Now, this was before Chick Fritter Friday in the cafeteria, so we would have grade meetings during our planning time each week -- administrators, counselors, even sometimes office staff or visitors from the central office, etc. would meet and eat. It's hard to fuss when you are eating a Geneva Campbell chocolate cake, or some of the favorites of our Bagley cooks. Eighth grade had morning planning, so we met first, and eventually we got accused of running the school -- but then we were the most experienced group in "middle school" which was a big deal then.

“At any rate, at one of those meetings, later in the year, we struck upon the idea that we needed to do something special for the 8th graders who had survived our first year -- remember, they had moved with us unlike the other grades who had all come from different elementary schools, so we wanted to give them a proper "send-off." Someone suggested to bring back graduation which had lapsed at the old school for several years, but we gave it a twist and called it "promotion" sine we wanted our Braves to know they weren't finished yet -- they were just going "across the road" as Dr. H always told them to continue their education. Well, as the meeting ended, someone said they always sand an alma mater at graduation, but we didn't have one.

“Not to offend any of the ministers in the crowd -- and we have a number of Bagley alumni in that calling -- but I do my best thinking at church. I started jotting down some phrased for a Bagley "Alma Mater." Using the tune popular for lots and keeping Miss Lula Gladden's chorus from the Murray High alma mater, Dr. H read an approved. Chip Leetch, our first chorus teacher made it more musical, and Bagley had a group-composed alma mater. Even though Bagley has gone through many changes and even a change in location, it still fits. For in the halls of dear old Murray--not Murray High, but there had been a school on this same site in years past, too, a spirit marches new--our student body is completely "new" every two years, we still have some of the old traditions as well as some things that have been tweaked or added in the last twenty-five years. Bagley folks are still proudly wearing their school colors even though one of those has changed as well. For right now, at least, we're still the Braves -- despite the rumblings of changing that as well -- young people are still growing, learning, and being together at this place called Bagley. Lots of them have gone on to do great things in the last twenty-five years -- teachers, lawyers, good parents, doctors, businessmen, faithful workers and employees, and as we go forward, more will continue to do so. Bagley is still tops in lots of state rankings -- first place in state quiz bowl this year, going to Nationals . . . .. Just saying . . . . .

“Thanks to all who have made this day possible, the planners, the cakebakers, the set up crew, and the punch-maker --Rachel SATTERFIELD Adams -- the only other person who has been at Bagley ALL 25 years . . . . As most of you know, things are a bit uncertain at Bagley right now -- Mr. Gazaway (like all his predecessors) is moving on up, so someone new will be leading the school next year -- but folks, we just need to stay focused and finish this 25th year in grand style. Times change -- and they have in the last quarter of a century -- but values endure, so keep it special and, frankly, it won't matter a whole lot who's in the front office!