Schools have always been an important part of Viola’s life and have a rich history within the community. This history will be celebrated over the weekend during the annual Viola Valley Homecoming.
Festivities begin Friday at 6 p.m. with food and craft vendors and kick off Saturday morning with the traditional parade at 10 a.m.
Viola’s beloved Todd School was built by the community before the turn of the century. A parade was held for the opening of the school.
In the early 1900s, W.C. Todd opened the school in Viola. Teaching grades 1 to 12 were Mr. and Mrs. Todd, Fred Murphy, Miss Medora Record and later on Mautie H. McIntosh. The school was regarded as a center of culture and a splendid place for a community to own. There was a powerful loyalty to the school.
The main building was situated on a large, fenced-in acreage with steps to cross for admittance. Dormitories were available for boys and girls while the principal, his wife and the teachers lived on the first floor. The upstairs housed the boarding pupils.
Before Todd School was opened, Miss Mary Stout, who was educated in Nashville, was the first teacher and taught before the Civil War. At first, there were only three or four months of public school taught in improvised school houses. In 1883, the cornerstone of Viola Normal was laid and a brick structure was erected.
In earlier years, school was taught at Blue Springs Baptist Church, and a public school known as Hickory Academy was later used.
Viola Normal was organized as a junior college, successfully operating in various forms until 1916 with students coming from distant areas to be educated.
Viola Normal was very proud of its Viola Cornet Band, which often performed at Fourth of July celebrations. The first celebration took place in 1851 when the Sunday school of Blue Springs Baptist Church marched to a grandstand in a nearby grove where the present Church of Christ now stands.
In 1921, a four-year school was built on the Normal site called Todd School which operated until 1929. It then became a junior high until 1932 when it was converted to an elementary school.
The Viola schools’ reunion will be held all day at Town Hall during the Viola Valley Homecoming this Saturday, Aug. 24. Memorabilia from the rich history of the Viola schools will be on display.