Pinecrest Elementary Celebrates 75 Years Of Pilot Pride (1936-2011)

inecrest Elementary School Principal Denise Mobley, left, and a number of current students are joined by former principals Martha Hood and Vicki Dotson as the school celebrated its 75 years of rich history serving the community.

More than seven decades of history were validated by a milestone of successful accomplishment last month, as hundreds, both young and old, gathered to celebrate 75 years of Pilot Pride in Lithia. 
The event, held in mid-November in the Pinecrest Elementary School cafeteria, brought together past Pinecrest alumni, former students, teachers and principals, who were welcomed by current members of the student body and faculty, led by school principal Denise Mobley, a Hillsborough County educator for 18 years.
Mobley is joined this year by Elisa Walker as the school’s new assistant principal, adding to the change in leadership at Pinecrest.
“I am ecstatic to be the new principal as we celebrate 75 years in excellence in education and have established a culture of learning as a family,” Mobley said. “I hope to carry on some of the past Pilot Pride traditions as well as start new ones.”
A barbecue dinner provided by Smokin’ Joe’s BBQ, entertainment provided by the Pinecrest Chorus, and a display of past Pinecrest memorabilia added to the festivities for all present who came to enjoy a time to be remembered for years to come.
“This event was a great way to reach out to the community and to bring back the pilot pride as we celebrate our rich heritage,” Mobley said. “It was a time to socialize, fellowship, enjoy some entertainment and, reminisce about the good ol’ days, by walking down memory lane through the decades.”
Pinecrest was established as a “strawberry school” in 1936, which meant that the students went to school during the summer months and took the winter off to help with the strawberry harvest.
At the beginning, the school served grades 1-9 and, later, 1-12 as the communities of Keysville, Lithia, and Welcome consolidated to form a new school district.
Thanks to a forest of large pine trees on the property where the school was being built, the name Pinecrest was chosen, after it was suggested by a teacher named Geneva Bateman.
Presently, the school occupies 38 acres and is proud of its first graduating class in 1939.
Over the years, the school grew in size and numbers adding a band room, clinic, agricultural building, barn, a lighted football field, a shower-locker building, a residence for the custodian, nine additional classrooms and a lunchroom, which burned down in 1963, but brought progress with the construction of a new cafeteria in the following year. A renovation of the school was also recently completed.
Adding to the school’s rich history is Pinecrest’s 1969-1970 Class C Florida State Football Championship, after defeating Liberty County 25-14.
In 1972, the school said goodbye to its last graduating class, and continued as Pinecrest Elementary.
Traditionally, the school has been known for its good school spirit and community support, traditions and qualities that continue today.
The event provided a means for school mates Patty Clements and Judy Purvis, who both attended Pinecrest in 1955, to greet each other with a hug, which opened the way to look back over the years and talk about the past and the present.
Summing up the past and what the school itself has stood for over the years, former Pinecrest students and later one of its very own principals, Martha Hood, commented on the school’s influence on its students, the community and upon all who have had the chance to walk its hallways and classrooms.
“Pinecrest was the hub of the community, with almost 1,200 students attending in 1986,” Hood said. 
“It is half [of] that today, but it is still a wonderful school and I am proud of having had the opportunity to be a part of its incredible, marvelous and outstanding history.”
For more information about Pinecrest Elementary, please visit www.sdhc.k12.fl.us or call the school directly at 744-8164.