On September 25, 1969, the first organizational meeting was held at the First Baptist Church of Ashford. At this meeting 18 directors were elected for the first year. Thus, they laid the foundation for leadership in establishing and managing Ashford Academy. Furthermore, officers were elected. These included: President - W. W. Wells, Vice President - E. J. McArthur, and Treasurer - Joe Slay. Joe Slay, Ken Knox, and E. J. McArthur were elected as Trustees. This group of directors, officers, and trustees voted to meet weekly for planning. This showed their determination and dedication in establishing Ashford Academy. No longer was Ashford Academy a dream it was a reality.
During the last months of the year of 1969, a lawyer was contacted for advice and counseling in regard to the school. Also during this time, W. W. Wells and Willis McArthur Sr. were elected as chairmen of the Finance and Building committee.
The Articles of Incorporation for the school was adopted on October 21, 1969. This same day the membership fee of $1.00 and a $25.00 registration fee per child were set.
EARLY FOUNDATION MEETING
Many fund raising projects followed with much enthusiasm. A tremendous amount of work and soliciting for the Building Funds followed. Before November $10,000 had been contributed and hardly any time had passed before the building was up which consisted of 18 classrooms. The construction on the gym was started and a full athletic program was planned. Twenty acres of land, located on the Ashford to Greenfront Road, was purchased from the city to build these school facilities on.
At the April 6, 1970 meeting Mr. Jasper Meadows was introduced as our Headmaster. Soon afterwards, Tom Vickers was introduced as our first coach. By May 4th of the same year, a faculty of 15 was announced. School then began in September 1970.
In April of 1971, more land adjacent to the school was purchased for baseball and softball fields. During this same time, the Board of Directors recommended a Mothers Club be formed which did begin functioning in the 1972-73 school year. At the end of the first school year at Ashford Academy, the student body was a total of 410. The latter part of May 1971, the first senior class, composed of 20 students, graduated.
Our school year of 1971-72 played a large part in the growth of Ashford Academy. A new course, of French, was offered and 15 pupils enrolled. In February of 1972 Drivers Ed was offered in which 21 enrolled. Also, during this year Mrs. Bunday was given a permit to operate a diner for short order lunches. Furthermore, a large number of parents volunteered for the Red Cross course and 2 volunteers were on hand at school every day.
Most significant during the 1971-72 school year, was that we applied for accreditation in October 1971. We then received accreditation before this school year was out by the Alabama Private School Association.
The physical appearance of the school was changed by the addition of the fence installed around the campus in May of 1972 and the bathrooms built on the ball fields during the summer of 1972. Another addition was the installation of the bleachers for the gym in November of 1972.
PICTURE OF SCHOOL IN EARLY 1970s
In August of 1972, the need for a kindergarten program was brought up. W. W. Wells appointed a committee to study the needs for this program. Mrs. Hazel Hilyer was appointed chairman and James F. Fitch Jr., E. J. McArthur, and Tom Shirley served with her on this committee.
After two years with Ashford Academy Headmaster Jasper Meadows resigned and Mr. G. L. Baxter was hired for the 1972-73 school year. In August of 1973, following the 1972-73 school year, it was announced that the kindergarten program was to begin in the 1973-74 school year. It would be under the direction of Hazel Hilyer and the first teacher would be Teresa Mixon.
The school year of 1973-74 brought with it several additions. We added another bus route making three routes from and to the school. In 1973, the lunchroom building was erected. In 1974, the first band was organized and Lavan Luker was hired as a part-time director after school. 1974 also included the erection of the building which consists of four classrooms and the library. This building was dedicated in memory of Willis McArthur and in honor of W. W. Wells. The sign erected in front of the school was left by the Seniors of 1973-74.
The 1974-75 school year has many memorable aspects. The Ashford Academy football field was dedicated on August 30, 1974 in memory of Mr. Eugene Layton. Here after, it is known as Layton Field. Two programs were added to the curriculum during this year. The Enrichment program under the direction of Mrs. Emma Benton and the Reading Disability program under the direction of June Layton were established.
By July 1, 1975 226 students were pre-registered. Yet, by August 11, we had 449 registered. For the 1975-76 school year, Mrs. Jean Wells was hired as a full-time librarian and another 1st and 5th grade were added. The Kindergarten program installed our first playground equipment in August of 1975.
In February of 1976 Mr. G. L. Baxter resigned as Headmaster and in March the board hired Mr. Charles Saunders to fill the position. He then began the 1976-77 term and remained throughout the 1977-78 school term. During this time a full-time band director, Frank Steele, was hired and a shop program for the boys was added. In 1977, the Seniors installed an intercom system for the school, which proved to be a great asset.
In the spring of 1978 Mr. Saunders resigned and Mr. Robert C. Lewis was hired as headmaster for the school year of 1978-79. The Seniors of 1977-78 initiated the first payment on the awning over the walkways.
During the 1978-79 school year, we had Advanced Math added, and more emphasis was placed on the academics of the school. A choral group was started along with music sessions in all elementary grades. For this school year, we had a headmaster, 18 teachers, office secretary, maintenance employee, three bus drivers, two lunchroom workers, and secretary and bookkeeper for the Foundation. Thus, this shows a tremendous growth in staff from the first school year at Ashford Academy.