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Hollywood Hills High School, first named Sterling Dania High School and later re-named Hollywood Hills High School in 1967, is located in Hollywood, Florida. It took from January 1967 to August 1968 to complete construction of the main building. The three story Ninth Grade Center was completed in 2005.
Before being located at its current address, the school was a set of portable classrooms called “The Barracks” located near the Ft Lauderdale- Hollywood International Airport. The buildings were a quiet reminder of the major flight training facilities of the1940's. Later, these buildings were all demolished to build the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, except for one building: the Link Trainer Building #8, which is an historic site and currently the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum.
Ms. Maureen Dinnen, 35-year veteran Broward teacher, taught at Hollywood Hills during its early days, has served on the Broward School Board from 2004 to 2012 and has been a member of the Broward County Historical Commission since 2009. She has been a resident of Broward County for 64 years and recalls her early days at Hollywood Hills as a young teacher:
Well, into the barracks went Hollywood Hills High School. The faculty shared one mimeograph machine and one hand-cranked ditto machine. My classroom was on the second floor of a barracks building that had previously been used as an electronics lab. There were five narrow poles standing in a row down the center of the room. Since I walked around a lot when I was teaching, I became a navigation expert! Again, no air conditioning was provided, and the awning style windows had to be propped open with sticks since the opening handles had long since vanished. Let me tell you, barracks are hot in South Florida in August and September.
The building was strange in that you had to walk through two other classrooms to enter or leave my room by the front door. There was a back door that led to a rather shaky stairway down to the ground. As a teacher, one had to keep alert as some enterprising students would sneak out the back door when you turned your back. The only available teaching tool was the blackboard that was about six feet wide by three feet high. About mid-year someone stole my classroom back door so sometimes bugs and birds did fly into the room. The low mark was when I returned from winter break to find that some creature had chewed off the edges of my grade book.
Hollywood Hills was the high school attended by the kids who lived on ranches in Davie. In the spring during those years students were allowed days off for cattle round-up. It is amazing to think of that much vacant land existing in Broward County. Once we moved from the barracks into the new Hollywood Hills High School building we enjoyed new classrooms, air conditioning, a modern cafeteria, movie projectors, overhead projectors and all the latest audio-visual learning aids of that school era. We were doing great!
At Hills, I taught American history most of the time in both regular and portable classrooms because Broward County never seemed to be able to catch up with the monumental student population growth. One portable I taught in was dingy beige in need of a paint job. Again, my students and I came on Saturday and did the work. After the students rejected my color choice we put on a second coat that made everyone happy. It looked fabulous.
One January day at Hills my students were taking an exam when I told them to put down their pencils. I explained we were going outside because it was snowing, and they might never see this again. It melted before it hit the ground, but you could actually see snow falling on your shoulders in Hollywood, Florida.
A highlight of those early days at Hills High School was the winning of the state football championship. The entire school got so involved. Everyone who could went to the championship game in Orlando, including parents, students, teachers, administrators and community members. We felt invincible!
I stayed at Hollywood Hills High for 10 great years. Known for winning National Merit scholarships, the school grew to be one of the top high schools in the county and the state. Many of its students, including those in the classes that painted that portable classroom, are today attorneys, teachers, doctors, business leaders and prominent citizens. The Hills faculty still has reunions which I attend although I left in 1977 (This account was reprinted from The Spirit of the Times: Reflections of a Broward School Teacher by Maureen Dinnen in Broward Legacy).
Hollywood Hills High School was built for 1,500 students and the enrollment rose to over 2,000 students around 1978. There are about 75 classrooms in the main building, 25 classrooms in the Ninth Grade Center and 23 portable classrooms. The school’s name came from the surrounding community known as Hollywood Hills.
The school has received numerous academic and athletic awards. Many of these awards can still be viewed in the trophy cases and walls of the hallways.
Do you have a story to tell?
Do you have a story about Hollywood Hills, or photos or videos to share with us? If you would like to tell us about the early days at Hills, or want to submit your photos or videos, let us know!
First Yearbook and message from Principal Robert Lewis before the school moved to the new building at its present site.
Hollywood Hills, circa 1968 (From Epic Yearbook). Presumably, it is not snow seen here but an overexposed photograph of the old "Barracks" before the construction of the new building at its present site.
The Hollywood Hills High School Football State Champions pictured in 1974 Epic Yearbook
A classroom at Hills (Epic Yearbook, 1977)
Hills 1977 (Epic Yearbook)
Hills, circa 1980 (Epic Yearbook, 1980)