Committed to EXCELLENCE by providing a high quality education for everyone.
Lewis Anna Woodbury Elementary prepares students with the academic skills, habits of mind, and character traits necessary to perform on or above grade level and be prepared for success in college, career, and as productive citizens in the local and global community.
Lewis School History
During the late 1800’s and early 1900’s the elementary grades in Fort Meade were part of an all-grade school located on East Broadway. Additionally, some one-room schools, serving grades one through eight were located in the outlying rural communities of Pine Grove, Lake Buffum, and Tilghman. As the need for consolidation of some of the smaller schools was realized, a project to build a grammar school in Fort Meade was proposed.
Dr. O.B. Lewis, a local physician and a school trustee, was instrumental in establishing a new school adjacent to the existing school. Dr. Lewis, a two-term mayor of Fort Meade and a charter member of the First Baptist Church, arranged for the donation of several acres of land by the church for the purpose of constructing the Fort Meade Grammar School.
Plans for the Fort Meade Grammar School were drawn up by H.C. Little of Wauchula. Plan and specifications were approved by the trustees and adopted by the Polk County School Board on June 4, 1925. The bid of $45,000 for the constructing of the school, submitted by W.C. Robinson and Company, was accepted by the Board on July 6, 1925. Construction began the following year in a beautiful oak grove adjacent to the existing school, and was occupied by classes in September 1926. The school was initially identified as Fort Meade Primary School, Number II. Later that year the school was dedicated to Dr. O.B. Lewis and renamed Lewis Elementary School.
The school’s first woman principal, Mrs. Lola Peeples, was appointed in 1943. She served in this capacity two years. Afterwards, Mrs. Dorothy Gabriel was appointed principal and she remained until 1968. It was during this time that grades four and five were moved from the high school and Polk County Schools were racially integrated. A music room, library, and two wings consisting of eight classrooms were added in an attempt to house all elementary age students at the Lewis facility.
Anna Woodbury School History
The Anna Woodbury School was built in 1953 and originally served Fort Meade’s black students, grades one through eight. Ninth grade was added at a later time. The school was named in honor of Mrs. Anna Woodbury, the daughter of Bert and Lulu Thomas. She was an influential black woman who taught at the school and lived in the Fort Meade community. The school was erected on seven acres of land that had been donated by a Mr. Morrison, brother-in-law to Mrs. Carlton Marsh. The initial building consisted of three classrooms, an office area, and storage space. It was constructed for the price of $51,945.54. Because there was no lunchroom, students brought their lunches or went home for an hour to eat. Later students were permitted to eat lunch at an old cafeteria located across the highway.
Additions were made to the school in 1962-1963 to accommodate the growing population. There were now nine classrooms, a cafeteria, custodian’s room, storage room, principal’s office, and a patio area. The large field for physical education classes included a lighted softball diamond, a basketball court, and playground equipment. By this time the staff had increased to eleven teachers, a principal, four lunchroom workers, and a custodian/bus driver. There were 296 students enrolled in grades one through nine, 26 of whom were transported from the rural areas of Fort Meade. Tenth through twelfth grade students attended Union Academy in Bartow.
In 1968 the name of the school was changed to Fort Meade Middle School and served sixth and seventh grade students in an integrated setting. The school continued as Fort Meade Middle School until 1998 when the Polk County School Board approved moving sixth and seventh grades to the Fort Meade High School campus in efforts of offering a broader curriculum to these students. Plans were made then to renovate the buildings and add an additional wing. The former Anna Woodbury School was to become the new campus for fourth and fifth grade students who were currently attending Riverside Elementary School across town. The school was once again bestowed with the name of one of its beloved original teachers when it became Anna Woodbury Elementary School in August of 2000.
Anna Woodbury Elementary School began its first year as the smallest public elementary school in Polk County with 225 students under the direction of Principal Darlene Butler. The school’s mascot was the All-Star. In the fall of the 2002-2003 school year, Lewis Elementary and Anna Woodbury Elementary Schools became one school. While situated on two separate sites, both campuses share a principal and two assistant principals.