Harmony Elementary School
3946 S. Bogan Road; Buford, GA 30518
Years Principal year unknown Mr. (?) Ash year unknown Troy Buice 1923 Mrs. G. W. Duncan and Miss Ollie Duncan 1928 Bob Pirkle (teacher and principal) 1929 (approx.) Grady Morgan 1930-1936 (approximately) Taylor John King 1937 J. H. Collins 1938 Rufus Brooks 1939–1973 Glenn C. Jones 1973–1994 James W. Frederick 1994–1999 Larry Stone 1999–2006 Gary Yetter 2006–2019 Anne Marie Keskonis 2019–Present Jonathan Day
School Colors: Red, White, and Blue
School Mascot: Wildcat
Board of Education
Pat Mitchell - Chairman
Joel C. Taylor, Jr. - Vice Chairman
Dr. Jim Fisher
Superintendent: George G. Thompson
Architect: Lindsay, Pope, Brayfield & Assoc., Inc.
Contractor: Irvin Construction Company, Inc.
Dedication Date: 1995
Harmony Elementary School, originally built on the corner of Thompson Mill Road and Bogan Road, was named for the community of Harmony. As the community grew, another building was erected behind the old wooden Harmony Baptist Church, which is still on the corner of Thompson Mill Road and Bogan Road.
A 1923 county history excerpt reads as follows:
Teachers: Mrs. G.W. Duncan, Miss Ollie Duncan
Location: Buford 21 / 2 miles north; Bristol 21 / 2 miles east (Hall County); Zion Hill south 21 / 2 miles; Ivy Creek 3 miles southwest. (All schools in the area)
Grounds: Area, 1 acre; titles in trustees; rough and hilly; water from neighbors well; very little playground; no gardens, one toilet in bad condition
Building: Value, $500; two rooms; two cloak rooms; fairly good lighting; poor ventilation; fair condition; well kept; unpainted inside; needs repainting outside.
Equipment: Double patent desks; not sufficient amount of black board of slated cloth; no maps; no chart; no globes; no pictures; no library; no reference dictionary.
Organization: Two teachers; seven grades; 80 enrolled; 52 present; no programs posted; 24 recitation periods; no industrial work; 26 week school year.
Maintenance: $800.00 per annum from State, county and district tax.
After teaching one year, Glenn C. Jones became principal in 1939. He was janitor, basketball coach (two teams), bus driver (for 19 years) and teacher (until about nine years before retirement). At that time, the grades at Harmony were one through nine. The school had homemade desks and coal heaters, and the older boys would draw water from the well before recess to furnish drinking water.
The basketball teams were champions even though they only had dirt courts to play on. They were never tiring and when put on an indoor court, they walked away with championships. Sometimes Harmony hosted basketball games during the school day. It created much excitement, comparable to that of today’s Field Day
School buses boarded in the church yard, so when there were afternoon funerals at the church, school would have to be dismissed early. When the county built a busloading drive on the other side of the school, this was resolved.
In 1945, Mr. Jones, along with other principals, was asked to attend a class, Planning Health Programs, at the University of Georgia. He was only one of two who received credit because he came back to the community and implemented the program. As a result of this program, the Harmony Improvement Club was formed. The parents had chicken suppers and stews to raise enough money for the improvements. Soon, Fort Oglethorpe was disbanding and was giving away old Army barracks and surplus equipment, which included coal stoves and metal trays. This equipment was used to begin Harmony’s first lunchroom. Mr. Jones hired three cooks at $1.00 a day to prepare lunches that cost five cents each.
HARMONY IMPROVEMENT CLUB SUMMARY
The Harmony School Planning Group accomplished the following during the school term 1945–46:
- Organized a permanent planning group with officers and a regular meeting date.
- Redecorated the interior of the school building.
- I now installing running water and hand washing facilities (sic).
- Wired the school building for electricity, with lights in the auditorium and every classroom of the school.
- Is now raising funds for construction of a school lunchroom (sic).
- Purchased 74 new desks.
- Secured from the County School Superintendent the promise of two new school buses.
- Raised $935 toward financing improvements.
- Laid ground work for a functional health program.
- Took steps toward attaining the ideals of democracy.
The trustees for Harmony were Wheeler Liles, Henry Marshall, Astor Puckett, Lloyd Higgins, Will Hamilton, Alf Jones, Clarence Thrasher, Armon Wiggins, Hugo Puckett, Gordon Reed, and Ernest Parks.
In the middle ‘50s, the trustees were disbanded, and the ninth grade was moved to Sugar Hill High School. Consolidation was an issue, and the Board was going to close Harmony and send the children to the Lawrenceville and Dacula districts. Mr. Jones went to the board to ask Superintendent Wilbanks to consider the children. Superintendent Wilbanks and the Board reconsidered, and that is why Harmony is where it is today. Later, the Gravel Springs School burned in 1956–57, and consolidated with Harmony in the old building.
The building housing Harmony Elementary at 3946 Bogan Road, Buford, was built in 1957 to replace the school (grades one through eight) at the corner of Bogan Road and Thompson Mill Road. After the school was under construction, more acreage was purchased from Vassie Hulsey. This additional acreage extended the property from Bogan Road to Maddox Road. The property where the original building stands was purchased from Hugh Wallis. The school had its first phone upon moving into the new building. Two classrooms and two extra bathrooms were added to the building in 1959–60. The 1960-61 eighth-grade class was moved to North Gwinnett High School after attending Harmony for three weeks. Then in 1962, the brick gym and four additional classrooms were added, with dedication of the gym being held on January 5, 1963.
Dr. Randall C. Edwards picked Harmony to pilot the Appalachian Reading Project. “Harmony hosted dignitaries from all over the county, University of Georgia, other universities and colleges from throughout the state. Brooks Coleman was among one of the visitors!” Mr. Jones recalled with pride.
In the summer of 1973 the school received its first paved area for parking and bus lanes. In October 1973, the sixth and seventh grades moved to the newly opened Lanier Middle School, leaving Harmony with grades one through five.
Mr. Jones retired at the end of the 1973 school year after 35 years of service at Harmony. His wife, Agnes Jones, retired as the school secretary at the same time after working from the middle ‘50s until 1973. (She had been the school’s only secretary until then.)
James W. Frederick became principal in the fall of 1973. In 1978, the building was completely renovated and a new office, music rooms, library, and two classrooms were added. From that time until the present, the school has housed grades kindergarten through five in 20 classrooms.
Previously, the school colors were blue and red with white. They were changed to black and gold in the early 1980s by the student council. The Harmony mascot is the Wildcat.
In the school year 1987–88, Harmony’s enrollment topped 400 students for the first time in its history. The school continued to grow throughout the 90s and into the new millennium.
In 1994 Larry Stone was appointed principal. That year, Harmony returned to the original school colors of red, white, and blue. Mr. Stone served Harmony until 1998.
Mr. Yetter was principal from 1998– 2006. He served for seven years until he retired in June.
In 2004, Harmony had 1,450 students and 40 portable classrooms. That fall, Ivy Creek opened to relieve Harmony’s overcrowding. That same year, Harmony opened with 750 students and five trailers.
In July 2006, Anne Marie Keskonis became principal. The school started the year with 1,326 students and 72 classrooms. To meet the demand of an increasing student population, a relief school opened in 2007. Mrs. Keskonis served as the principal of the school until her retirement in June of 2019. The Board of Education selected Jonathan Day, who had served as the principal at Mulberry Elementary School, to become the next leader at Harmony.
The great challenge to the staff of Harmony and the community is maintaining the character and spirit of the school and community that it has carried on for generations.