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Tate High School was founded in 1878 by Professor James Madison Tate (formerly Roberts High School -1837).

Professor James Madison Tate was born in 1837 in Macon, Alabama. He was the quintessence of a southern gentleman having fought in the Civil War on the side of the confederates, as well as being a Methodist minister and a prominent lawyer. During his 35 years, 107 students graduated. He also married 200 couples with 114 being previous students. He is now buried at Gonzalez United Methodist Church, where he was the first pastor as well as founder.

Roberts High School was the 5th school in all of Escambia County and served students from Beulah to Ferry Pass. The school consisted of a scantly furnished one room school house with an added shed for assemblies. The students sat on benches and walked on sawdust floors. The typical day would begin with the boys filling water buckets from the creek nearby and cleaning the blackboards while young ladies swept the floors. Students were dismissed at 3:00 p.m. and those living in close proximity of the school would walk, while those living at longer distances would ride horses home.

The James Madison Tate Agricultural School (hence the name Aggies) was completed in 1917. It was a two-story brick building, which contained 8 classrooms. At this point the student population was 94. Since there was no football equipment available the main sports were basketball and baseball. The school buses were model T Fords.

In the 1920’s there were both men and women teachers although the women had to be single. The average pay was $73 a month. In 1927 O.A. Strange became the first principal. During his 24 years as principal 10 buildings were added.

Tate has become popular through going to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the 70’s and the Rose Bowl in the 1990’s. Some former students include Don Sutton, Travis Fryman, and J. Bell who are all professional baseball players. Also, in the 70’s Susan Walden was crowned Miss Florida.

Today there are approximately 2,000 students attending Tate.

Information provided by Mary-Lou Pardue, graduate.