|The following tribute was taken from the 1987 Alumni
Directory and was written by Col. J B Leftwich, whom I had the honor of knowing during my
four years in Lebanon. Castle Heights was more to Col. Leftwich than just a teaching job,
it was a love and a way of life. It is to men such as him that we owe so much and will
|CASTLE HEIGHTS HISTORY
Taps for Castle Heights came on an August afternoon in the
summer of 1986 just as the proud old military academy prepared for its 85th srhool year.
And she died with her head high as if she expected reveille to sound as usual the next
But reveille did not sound the next day despite efforts of Lebanon business and
professional people to pump life into her once again. Castle Heights was a tough old
institution which had weathered other crises and had fought back to full strength. Indeed,
only twelve years before, in 1974, the Castle Heights Foundation was formed to buy from
the floundering Bernarr Macfadden Foundation the school and its more than one hundred
acres of land.
In the final analysis, Castle Heights died because there was no longer a body of cadets
large enough to sustain her. Year after year following the Vietnam War, which changed so
many attitudes and altered so many institutions, school officials hoped and prayed for a
halt in the declining enrollment; indeed, for any kind of an upward trend. But aside from
an occassional flurry, increases in enrollment did not come. And so, Castle Heights ran
its course, and the time came for taps .... the final taps. There had been many casualties
among the ranks of military schools prior to the demise of Castle Heights. There will be
many more. Education in this country is on a different track, and the future of military
schools at the secondary level is, at best, hazy. Several factors are responsible for a
weak response at the market place, including escalating tuition, the proliferation of
private day schools, and the reluctance of teenagers to leave home to attend boarding
school. Another factor, perhaps as important as the above mentioned ones, focuses on home
discipline in which children make the decisions, especially in the matter of being away
from home and friends to attend school.
Add to these factors the tremendous overhead of operating a boarding school. Salaries,
utilities, maintenance of ancient buildings, transportation, food and administration
become more costly with each passing year.
And so, the heyday of boarding schools in general and military schools in particular is
long over, and this is sad. These schools have meant so much to so many. The stronger,
richly endowed boarding schools will survive, but maintaining enrollment numbers will
become increasingly difficult, even for them.
It is not easy to write the obituary of one you love. On a personal note, I have been a
part of Castle Heights Military Academy as teacher, administrator, or trustee for
forty-five years.... and I loved her. But the time had come for her to go, because she
could be only a shadow of what she was. I am not precluding the possibility of another
school operating on the Castle Heights campus; that is a faint possibility. I am saying
the Castle Heights I knew and loved and supported is gone.
I am writing her obituary, it is necessary to mention important events. Here are some of
||-||Castle Heights School founded by L. W. P. Buchanan with the support of David E.
Mitchell. Main was the only building and enrollment was 96 boarding students.|
||-||Dr. L. L. Rice and Prof. 0. N. Smith, two of the giants in the early years, came
||-||Rice became sole owner.|
||-||The school was renamed Castle Heights Military Academy.|
||Rice sold the school to a group of faculty members.|
||Bernarr Macfadden bought the school, and soon thereafter hired Harry L. Armstrong,
for many years superintendent.|
||The Mitchell House was bought. The Mitchell property brought the school acreage to
||The Junior College was established with R. C. Ford as dean.|
||Five girls were admitted, the first females since this beginning of World War I
to attend Castle Heights.|
||The Castle Heights Foundation was formed with Roy Wauford as chairman of its board.
The new foundation bought the school from the Macfadden Foundation.|
||Castle Heights closed its doors.|
J. B. Leftwich
Memories of Heights
by Jim Welty
How great it felt, to come back "home",
To Castle Heights again.
To walk the grounds, to feel the breeze,
And be where we had been.
And best of all, to see again,
Those old familiar faces.
Bringing back old memories of
Old friends, old times, old places
How many times, as years went by,
My mind slipped back to Heights.
Conjuring up old memories,
Of long past days and nights.
Those memories of long ago,
And all the times we had.
Those memories that haunt us all,
The good ones, and the bad.
Those memories of S.M.I.,
And Sunday Dress Parade.
Of Col. Ingram, Maj. Mann,
I doubt they'll ever fade.
The formations at the circle,
Marching thru the mess hall door,
Now the circle, and the mess hall,
And old Bullard are no more.
And the band no longer plays retreat,
And the bugle does not sound.
And the auditorium's empty,
And there's silence all around.
But don't let the silence fool you,
Heights is not dead and gone.
We know that in our hearts and minds,
It always will live on.
It will live in all our memories,
Recollections of those sights.
That will stay with us forever,
God Bless you, Castle Heights.
Dedicate to Maj. Tom (Tailspin) Harris
English and Literature teacher for many years at CHMA.