Wauchula High School, the predecessor of today’s Hardee County High School, was the first high school to serve students in the Wauchula area. On August 4, 1903, the school, located on South 8th Avenue and Bay Street, Wauchula, which had been built by the Masons in 1895, became a county high school. The first commencement class, consisting of three girls and one boy, graduated from Wauchula High School on March 20, 1906.
In 1909, a new building, was constructed and housed all grades. In 1915, the west wing of the high school was opened.
In the spring of 1926, a new high school, bounded by Bay Street on the north, west by Dixie Highway and east by 11th Avenue, was opened. In the late 1930s or early 1940s, the school’s name was changed to Hardee County High School. In 1945, the school building burned to the ground and forced the school district to find a temporary location for students to earn their education while a new high school building was designed and constructed on Florida Avenue, Wauchula. The new school building opened in the fall of 1949.
In 1981, the newest high school facility was built and remains the single brick and mortar high school serving Hardee County students. Located on Altman Road in Wauchula, the current Hardee High facility consists of 14 mostly brown brick buildings nestled among large oak trees on a 35-acre plot of land donated by the Doyle E. Carlton, Jr. family.
In June 2009, Hardee High School took on new leadership under the direction of principal, Dr. Michele Polk. Dr. Polk remains in that position today with a leadership team that includes assistant principals, Mrs. Mary Sue Maddox and Mrs. Mary Farr. All members of the administrative team are themselves graduates of Hardee High School who are highly committed to creating a 21st century learning environment for students and teachers. The school faculty includes 79 instructional staff and 19 non-instructional staff. Enrollment runs approximately 1400 students throughout the school year with a demographic that is 63% Hispanic, 5% African American, 28% Caucasian and 4% other. HHS is not classified a Title I school, however it is eligible to participate in the Community Eligibility Provision which provides all students with a school breakfast and lunch at no charge.
Having only one high school in Hardee County, there is a great sense of pride within the local community for Hardee High School students and their accomplishments. Local organizations are very generous in their support of the school, its students and staff. Each year, over $25,000 in scholarships from local businesses and families are awarded to graduating seniors. Tens of thousands of dollars are also donated to the high school each year by local businesses and organizations. In its support of the high school, MOSAIC provides funding for the Orange and Blue Review, a bimonthly full page spread in the local newspaper that highlights Hardee High School activities and initiatives, bolstering the tremendous sense of community pride that the school enjoys.
Hardee High School offers honors, Advanced Placement (AP), and Dual Enrollment (DE) courses, giving students ample opportunity to pursue advanced studies. South Florida Community College works in partnership with Hardee High School, allowing students to participate in DE courses at the Hardee and Avon Park campuses. In addition, the Career and Technical Education department provides students the opportunity to enroll in courses where they can earn an industry certification in the medical, culinary arts, business, art, or agriculture fields. The school has also developed a strong STEM program that provides a variety of hands on opportunities for students to interact with working professionals in STEM related fields. Students may also participate in the highly successful Air Force JROTC program along with a variety of electives in the areas of art, language, music, drama, physical education, and yearbook.
Clubs and athletic programs are an integral part of life for students of Hardee High School. Students are encouraged to get involved in after-school activities, strengthening the connection between students and their school. Such offerings at Hardee High School include Academic Team, Band, Cheerleading, Chorus, Culinary Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Future Farmers of America, Key Club, Leo Club, National Honor Society, STEM Club and Student Council. Hardee High enjoys a positive reputation for its sports programs and encourages our athletes and coaches to demonstrate exceptional sportsmanship. Among the various sports programs offered, HHS typically brings home multiple district championship titles each year. Sports options for students include baseball, basketball, football, golf, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track, volleyball and weightlifting.
The administrative team is appreciative of the teachers and staff and their high level of commitment to doing whatever it takes to improve student achievement and create an optimal learning environment at HHS. The faculty and staff collective commitment reads as follows: “We will prepare our students for life beyond high school through rigorous and relevant learning opportunities aligned to individual student goals. We will be unified in our efforts and work collaboratively to improve our instructional practices and create a positive school environment.”
The administration is also proud of the students at Hardee High School. Visitors on campus never fail to compliment the level of respect and positive attitude that HHS students demonstrate. The student collective commitment is stated as follows: “In an attempt to make our school a more successful learning environment, we will focus on improving attendance, punctuality, classroom conduct, and appearance. If we, as a student body, take care of these details, our administration and faculty will be able to better focus on instructional goals.”