The Alumni Museum

The school prefers visitors to the museum to be after 2:30 PM on Mondays when there are no students. Anyone who wants to go on a different day, please contact Rena Bilella at (813) 382 - 6216.

Visit the Jefferson Museum at:

D. W. Waters Career Center

2704 N. Highland Ave

Tampa, FL 33602

Jefferson High School History

In 1908, the school board purchased land on Highland Avenue, as a site for a new permanent high school building, north of the old town. The building was designed by Wilson Potter of New York. Construction would not begin until December 1910. The cornerstone was laid February 17th, 1911 and the new building was completed October 2nd, 1911 at a total cost of $60,000.

The cornerstone reads HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL, but when it opened October 12, 1911, it was called HILLSBOROUGH HIGH SCHOOL.

Ernest L. Robinson was principal and there were a total of fourteen teachers and sixty three regular seniors. The Terrier was selected as the Mascot. Today it is the oldest high school building in Tampa still standing and operating in the Hillsborough County School System.

With an ever increasing student population the building was enlarged in 1923. The architect was M. Leo Elliott. This construction tripled the footprint of the building.

This school was ranked high with other high schools of the United States. It stood among the first of the southern high schools. Starting in 1925, cafeteria style lunches were served and have continued to this day.

From 1911 until 1925, Mr. Robinson was principal. He resigned his office to become county superintendent and Mr. FJ Spaulding succeeded him. The last Hillsborough High School senior class graduated from this building in June of 1928. In September 1928, a new facility opened for Hillsborough High School on Central Avenue and the student body moved there.

In the Fall of 1928, this building became Thomas Jefferson Junior High School and the principal was Mr. DW Waters. During the next eleven years Tampa’s population was growing and to house the expected student increase the Hillsborough County School Board decided, in 1939, to reestablish a senior high school. Under the guidance of principal DW Waters, a movement began by adding a higher grade each year, until its first senior class graduated in June of 1942. the Dragon was selected as the school’s mascot.

With Mr. Waters transferring to George Washington Junior High School, Mr. Ateo P. Leto became principal in 1949. His keen judgement and understanding inspired respect and confidence in his teachers and students. He was the guiding spirit behind the growth of Jefferson. Through his personal interest and compassionate friendship, he endeavored to make this student’s school life one of achievement and effectiveness.

Miss Sumner came to Jefferson as Assistant Principal in the Fall of 1944. She actually graduated from this building when it was the original Hillsborough High School. She won her BS Degree from the Florida State College for Women (now FSU) and an MA degree at Columbia University. She taught two years at FSCW before coming to Tampa to begin her eighteen years of teaching at Hillsborough High School.

Mr. Braulio Alonso was not only a distinguished principal but a well known and respected civis leader as well. He was a member of most of our city, state and national educational associations, and Governor’s Committee on Latin American Affairs. He worked wonders for Jefferson by boosting school pride and raising school spirit to a new high. He was a graduate of Hillsborough High School, and attended the University of Tampa, and the University of Florida, where he earned his BA, MA and Rank I degrees.

During his years as principal, Mr. Frank Farmer worked hard to keep Jefferson running smoothly. He took on a full scale job of revitalizing the President’s Council and making the organization very effective. Under his administration, Jefferson appeared before the public a great deal and its achievements were more recognized. Mr. Farmer’s tactful handling of the problems concerning money making projects and internal affairs helped endear him to his student body. His tenure at Jefferson gained him the respect of each student and teacher.

Mr. Jack Menendez earned his Masters degree from the University of Florida. He came to Jefferson from his position as principal of East Bay High School. In September 1964, he arrived here to face a new challenge as principal of Jefferson. He was a dynamic man that could tackle problems in many places at the same time.

As a graduate of Jefferson, Mr. Ralph Vaccaro was involved in every phase of his old school with both professional and personal interest and vigor. He was never too busy to help a student. Mr. Vaccaro earned his BS degree from the University of Tampa and his MA Degree from George Peabody College. Mr. Vaccaro was principal of Jefferson when it closed in June 1967.

With the construction of the junction of Interstate 4 and Interstate 275, threatening to destroy the original George Washington Junior High School on Columbus Drive, the student body was relocated into this building in February 1968. Mr. John Alfano was its principal until June of 1979.

With the retirement of principal John Alfano in 1979, Mr Robert Godwin was appointed principal of this school. In 1981, the decision to close down the school was made and George Washington Junior High School ceased to exist. For a little over a decade the building fell in disrepair and was almost scheduled to be demolished.

On April 24th, 1994, due to the efforts of the Preservation Committee of the TJHS Alumni Association, the building was renamed the DW Waters Memorial Center. Under the leadership of Katherine Moor Morse TJHS ’43, for whom the auditorium  is named, the Preservation Committee was successful in having the building placed on the National Register of Historic Places. It serves today as a memorial to Mr. Waters and is a symbol of the county’s early dedication to education.

After an extensive eight million plus renovation the building reopened its doors in August 2002, as DW Waters Career Center, the first in the Hillsborough County School system. Mr. David Best was principal. An additional two million renovation of the auditorium has since been made.

Veronica Knight Morgan has been principal of DW Waters Career Center from 2003 until 2016. Ms. Morgan recognized that there are two kinds of education, one to teach you how to make a living and one to teach you how to live. She sincerely values every student and she addresses their challenges and accomplishments with care and compassion. Ms. Morgan constantly puts in place strategies to enhance the educational and career goals of the school’s program. She is passionate about the students being successful, therefore she seeks individuals to share real life issues with her students by utilizing the learn by experience concept.

The new principal at DW Waters Career Center is Ms Holly Frazier.

Copyright © Jefferson High School Alumni