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Principal of Highland Springs School 1924-1944
By Susan Booth Bonnet Chermside

Marjorie Booth Bonnet was my mother. She began teaching in 1919 and soon became a principal. For years she was a loving “mother” to all the children who passed through her school. As her only blood child, I knew she loved her teachers and the children who attended Highland Springs High School. I don’t think I was aware of her complete devotion to those children until, after she died, I found a scrapbook among her personal effects.

Her scrapbook began with the names of pupils of the Highland Springs classes of 1907 and 1908 and gives lists of students up through 1923. Beginning with the year 1924, the year she came to Highland Springs, she pasted in many original photographs taken for use in yearbooks. There are memorabilia from the classes through 1934. My father died in 1934. Year-to-year pictures and lists of what was happening at Highland Springs High School end in the scrapbook at that point.

But the more significant part of this scrapbook begins after that. There are seventy-eight pages on which Mrs. Bonnet pasted newspaper pictures of students or teachers who had attended Highland Springs. These were pictures of “her family of Highland Springs students” getting married, getting jobs, pursuing hobbies, joining the Armed Forces in World War II, being sent to foreign stations, being promoted, or being listed as killed or “missing in action”. On nearly every picture Mother noted the year when the person graduated from Highland Springs.

In this entire scrapbook, Mrs. Bonnet never included anything that mentions her.

Highland Springs School a "Plum"

During the years Mother was at Highland Springs that school was the largest rural school in the State of Virginia. Principalship of Highland Springs was definitely a “plum,” a coveted position in those days, head of a large school, still in its halcyon days.

Mrs. Bonnet was, of course, the principal of the ENTIRE school, grade school as well as the high school at Highland Springs. I don’t remember the year, but it was before 1932, when an ambitious young man decided he would like to be Principal there. My mother came home with the suggestion that she should not fight for her place. My father strongly vetoed the idea of her backing down to a man. There was publicity given to the contest for the big Henrico County school and many alumnae and alumni of Highland Springs came forth to pledge their support to Mother. The Henrico County School Board wrote a strong letter in support of Mother staying on at Highland Springs. She agreed, and decided to remain in her position as Principal.

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"Mommie" Bonnet Facts:
Marjorie Booth Bonnet

  • Principal of Highland Springs School 1924-1944

  • Principal of both sections, High School and Grade School

  • Longest Tenure as Principal at Highland Springs (20 years)

  • Could write and draw with both hands at the same time

  • Designed the original "Highlander" Scotsman for the Yearbook and other publications

  • So beloved by the students at the school that they called her "Mommie" Bonnet

  • Taught that it was unsportsmanlike to cheer when the opposing team made a mistake

  • Overcame childhood tuberculosis

  • Graduated Hollins College, two years at Columbus Art School and Cosmopolitan School of Music in Chicago  

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