BAKER — Jeanette Henderson is happy to see years of research and hard work pay off.
The long-time resident is responsible for bringing a historical marker to Baker School, establishing that the former Baker High School was Okaloosa County's first state-accredited high school in 1923.
Henderson, 82, was Baker Block Museum's first curator for 18 years and worked as the school's secretarial bookkeeper from 1956-1988. Her love of history and collecting reference material for the museum eventually put her on a mission to put a historical marker at the school.
"The more (information) that I saw and the more that came in (to the museum) on the school, my interest continued to grow," she said.
The school's history dates back to 1914 when property for Baker High School was purchased. The Florida Legislature formed Okaloosa County during the school's construction in 1915. The original two-story building, which opened in 1916, was heated by a wood stove in the building's basement. The school's first graduating class in 1924 had three students.
The research process led Henderson to the Florida Historical Marker Program with the Florida Department of State's Historical Resources division.
Using evidence she collected over two years, Henderson attained the aluminum-alloy marker through the application process.
Henderson said she "couldn't help but shed a tear" upon receiving notice that the marker was approved.
Baker School's historical marker, which cost more than $2,100 to produce, is now one of 800 historical markers found throughout the state, Michael Zimny, the program's coordinator, said.
An anonymous Baker graduate funded the marker, Henderson said.
Now, with school officials' assistance and help from Baker School alumni, Henderson invites area residents and school alumni to a Feb. 23 unveiling ceremony at the school.
"It's something that means a lot to me. I have a lot of precious memories from the school," she said.
WANT TO GO?
WHAT: Baker High School historical marker ceremony
WHEN: 2 p.m. Feb. 23
WHERE: Baker School, 1369 14th St.