Palmer School (established in 1972)
In January 1973, the first Palmer students moved into their permanent classrooms on the beautiful 22-acre site that was the new Palmer Preparatory School, named for active and visionary founding Board member Rose Palmer O’Neil. While the original classroom building (currently the Middle School Building) was being completed, the first students had attended classes in the temporary quarters of a nearby church. When they moved to the campus, they found the completed classroom building; three circular modular units (used for the lunch room, the business office, the locker room and coaches’ office, classrooms, and typical of the times, a senior smoking lounge); and rocky football and baseball fields that would become smooth in the next few years as teachers and students worked together to lay sod. Palmer began with grades 9 through 12, and in June of 1973, the first class of Palmer Pirates, colors green and gold, graduated from Palmer Prep (later the name changed to Palmer School). The Activities Center, designed as a gymnasium and auditorium, was completed in 1980, and later the separate Library building was completed.
Palmer was committed to strong academics, and for a small school, had a strong athletic program. Baseball, football, basketball, and soccer were all successful team sports, more for the boys at first, but by the mid 1970s the girls’ sports program took off as well. The tennis and golf teams went all the way to State competition. The arts were also celebrated. Pictures in the yearbook show lovely, skillful ceramicworks being created by students. From the beginning, Palmer had a friendly, warm, caring atmosphere that fostered lasting friendships, a love of the school, and wonderful memories, many of which go back to school clubs and activities. By 1975, there was an active Spanish Club, Science Club, National Honor Society, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Photography Club, Pirate’s Log (the school newspaper), Yearbook, Environmental Action Committee, Aquarium Club, Chorus, Guitar Group, Art Club, Cheerleaders, Pirates’ Club (pep club), and Pep Squad – many memories to cherish.
Trinity Episcopal School (founded 1982)
The parents who took their 7th and 8th grade children to the opening day of classes at Trinity Episcopal School in 1983, drove through the parking lot of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church on Sunset Drive and back to a dirt road that led to a trailer where the administrative offices were housed. Modest beginnings, but the Trinity Titans, colors purple and white, felt bold and confident from the start. Every day began with chapel in the church sanctuary, and two refurbished buildings provided classroom space. Using the immediate area, Tropical Park, and courts at a nearby tennis club, an athletic program quickly developed that included soccer, football, basketball, lacrosse, cross country, baseball, softball, tennis, and cheerleading. The tennis team went all the way to State. Before long, parents and students were working together to lay concrete squares to create a courtyard entrance and beautify their new campus.
In addition to providing a strong emphasis on academics, athletics, and spiritual formation, Trinity also helped students bond with each other and with faculty members by the many clubs on campus and trips off campus. The Yearbook (Footprints), Newspaper (Trinity Times), Drama Club, Eat ‘n Wear (the culinary club), Model Club (as in airplane models), Ceramics Club, Modern Dance, Service Club, Student Government, Band, National Honor Society and other honor societies all helped to enhance skills in those areas and to build lasting friendships. Trips to far-away places like Williamsburg, Washington, DC, and Canada (which combined skiing and practice in speaking French) became highlights of education, fun, and community building. Ventures closer to home, like camping trips to the Peace River and the Keys, left memories of paddling canoes in the Florida wilderness with close friends.
With a grade added each year, Trinity students developed a deep love for their campus, but in a visionary way they were excited in 1991 about the merger. In the last Trinity yearbook, the final two pages show a Trinity campus scene with the word “Good”, and then a scene of what would now become the Palmer Trinity campus, with the words, “Very Good."