MARJORIE BOOTH BONNET,
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.
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
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