No one alive today has memories of Everett High School opening its doors for the first time, for that was in 1922, but there are thousands of students who have passed through those halls who count themselves fortunate to have done so.
With this being the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the school, several alumni have come together to plan for a huge gathering, set for Oct. 8 at Everett gym. Classmates and former staff are invited to come anytime between 1 and 4 pm to catch up with dear friends and share their stories of being Everett Bulldogs.
According to a history compiled by Everett High School Alumni Association, the school was named for Elizabeth Everett, who donated land for the school’s construction. The elementary school was added to the campus in 1943. A fire destroyed the junior high building in 1954; it was rebuilt in 1956.
Home for years to the county’s alternative education program, Everett is now the Samuel Everett School of Innovation which offers a flexible and hybrid education with a mix of on-campus and virtual learning.
Lynda Cook Rizzardi, a member of the EHS Class of 1973, will certainly be in attendance at the homecoming. Her mother, Norma Burns Cook, was a teacher and yearbook advisor for the school, and Rizzardi has every yearbook dating back to 1947 to the year the school closed, in 1977, with the exception of the 1948 version.
She has lots of memories of her time spent attending several proms and teacher meetings, invited along by her mother; she also still has the PE uniform that she said was required of all students back in the ’60s and ’70s. “I can probably still get in it,” she surmised.
But it’s being able to help one of her teachers, the Rev. Lois Hutchens, that will always remain one of her fondest times at Everett. He was an American history teacher who became very ill and spent time in the hospital during the school year.
“I went by every day to visit him,” Rizzardi said, “to pick up class assignments and return tests. I would pick up tests for the next day because he took his briefcase to the hospital. I was the one to transport things back and forth to the substitute teachers. I even taught the class that I was in. I was a senior.”
Rizzardi went on to become a teacher, serving in this community for nine years. She taught Spanish at William Blount High.
Hutchens also taught Bible, said Robert Russell, a member of the EHS Class of 1967. Hutchens taught at Everett from 1961 until it closed and then moved on to the new Heritage High, in 1978. A wing at Broadway Baptist Church is named for him .
For Russell, it was principal Robert Davis who helped him become the person he is today. Russell said he had study hall, and Davis would come and just talk with him a couple of times each week, as an encourager. Russell’s parents didn’t graduate high school, so Davis became a mentor who saw another future for this young student.
Davis chose Russell to be a member of the prestigious Key Club. Russell went on to become a president of Maryville Kiwanis; Kiwanis is the Key Club sponsor.
“When I was in high school, I went many times to Kiwanis meetings at the same exact place we meet today — Green Meadow Country Club. In the same room as when I was at Everett,” Russell recalled.
Russell attended the University of Tennessee for a year after high school and then “ran out of money.” So on a whim, he said he joined the Army. Five months later he was in Vietnam.
“I saw a lot of combat,” this veteran said. “I saw a lot of people get killed.”
After serving his time in the Army, Russell came home, got married and graduated from UT; he then joined the Navy as an officer. “Three weeks later I was sent back to Vietnam for the evacuation of Saigon, in 1975,” Russell recounted.
He spent 29 years serving this country, retiring in 1998. He knew where his next stint would be.
“There was no doubt I was coming back here,” this EHS graduate said. “I have never missed a class of 1967 reunion. Even when I was in the Navy. They would happen when I was home on leave.”
He and wife Patsy moved back here soon after retirement.
Frances Howard Clark is a proud member of EHS’ Class of 1965. Unlike Russell, she remained in her hometown, working as a hair stylist for 47 years before semi-retiring recently.
She was in the top 20 academically and played on the basketball team for four years. Everett had some great teams, she said. Walland and Porter were local rivals along with Friendsville. Back then, there were nine high schools, including Alcoa, Maryville and Greenback.
“I like people,” she said as to the reason she worked so many years. She still travels to some local nursing homes to offer her services.
Eva Hicks Anderson, a member of the EHS Class of 1965, said her class has remained close even after 57 years. Several classmates have gotten together to celebrate reunions and have enjoyed gatherings at a local eatery every few months.
She attended EHS for three years, attending Eagleton Junior High as a freshman. She got married in 1967 and moved away. With her husband working for an airline, they called several cities home over the years.
“I was gone 40-something years,” Anderson said. “There was never a question that we would come back.” She had a career as an executive assistant to the CEO of Chiquita in Cincinnati and also worked for TRW Automotive in East Tennessee.
Deitra Heaton Cooper is no different when it comes to recalling her time at Everett. A member of the Class of 1963, she has nothing but positive memories of her time there.
“I loved school,” she said. “I loved high school. Linda Graves was my best friend. We were on the Hilltopper staff for two years.”
Cooper said she took all of the typing, shorthand and business classes she could so she would be ready to go to work. She did just that, working for a sporting goods store for 16 years and then Maryville College for 20. Like Russell, she hasn’t missed any of her reunions or those of her husband, Everett Cooper. He graduated in 1962.
Playing in the band is just one of Jean Dykes Thomas’ great memories of EHS. A member of the Class of 1963, she played the clarinet. “We weren’t that good,” she said. “We were very average.” She said the band at Everett did get much better in later years and won several awards.
Thomas worked in the office at Everett in her senior year for Davis. She loved the time she spent there. “I begged him to let me come back one more year because I had so many friends in the Class of 1964,” Thomas said. She would go on to work for a law firm for 45 years.
Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell, former Alcoa Mayor Don Mull, Pastor Clarence Sexton — all are Everett High graduates. Robert Davis went on to serve as Blount County executive. In 2016 A directory was published listing all of the school’s alumni.
These homecoming organizers recall it was 1972 before girls were allowed to wear pants. Temperatures had to be below freezing with snow on the ground, Rizzardi said. Boys weren’t allowed to wear their shirts untucked, Russell chimed in. And cheerleader outfits had to rest below the knee.
Cooper said it was her shorthand teacher who was responsible for getting her that very first job. Joan Pendley’s family owned a trucking business and she would pick Cooper up and drive her to the job in Sevierville. Cooper’s pay was 75 cents an hour.
The buildings that were there on Everett hill that served as halls of learning for these and countless others are not all still there, but the memories remain.
“For those of us who attended, we will never forget it,” Rizzardi said.