The History of Plant High School

October 9, 2014 | South Tampa Magazine | Categories: Culture, Editorial, History | Tags: Coach Robert Weiner, H.B. Plant High School, Henry B. Plant, Henry B. Plant High School, history of Plant High School, Plant Panthers, Principal Robert Nelson

Henry B. Plant High School

The story behind South Tampa’s nationally recognized high school


Year built: 1926

Student body: 2,300

Mascot: Panther

Colors: Black & Gold

Principal: Robert Nelson

Magnets/Specialty Programs: none

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‘Strength Through Unity’

From the moment you step on campus at Plant High School, you can almost feel the pride gushing through the walls. “Plant High School, Home Of State Champions,” reads the water tower behind the stadium. The front entrance is emblazoned with trophies, ribbons and other accolades. Since 1926, Plant High has been the prize of South Tampa and rightfully so. The administration, teachers, students and even parents have one mission: to make Plant prosper and help the children of South Tampa flourish both academically and athletically. The school is named after railroad pioneer Henry B. Plant, who donated the land to the school district in the 20s. The majority of that same building stands today, with the administration preserving the main building facing Himes Avenue and maintaining much of the architectural integrity with any additions. Although it is considered a traditional public school without magnet programs, Principal Robert Nelson said nearly 95 percent of his students plan to attend college after graduation. That figure speaks volumes for the tradition to excellence and student achievement that has been displayed at Plant over its existence.


Panther Pride

Athletically, Plant has excelled over the last decade under the direction of Coach Robert Weiner. During his tenure, he has led the Panthers to a state championship title four times (2006, 2008, 2009 and 2011) and produced a string of tremendous quarterbacks that includes Robert Marve (Miami-Purdue), Aaron Murrary (Georgia) and Philip Ely (Alabama). The school also has a superb music program that consists of a full orchestra, marching band and choir.

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Henry B. Plant

Henry Bradley Plant was the founder of the Plant System of railroads and steamships lines that in the 1880s helped connect Tampa and the entire state to destinations such as Havana, Mobile, Jamaica and Key West. Through the years, Plant also founded some of the most luxurious hotels the state had ever seen, including the Tampa Bay Hotel, now the campus of the University of Tampa and the Hotel Belleview in Clearwater. The Tampa Bay Hotel even served as the U.S. Army headquarters for military officers during the Spanish-American War in 1898. His name today adorns several notable buildings in Tampa Bay, including Morton Plant Hospital and, of course, Plant High School.

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Notable Alumni

Wade Boggs (1976): Hall of Fame third basemen

Leo Gallagher (1964): Comedian

Dreama Walker (2004): Actress; appeared on Gossip Girl and Gran Torino


Hallway Notes

  • Dad’s Stadium is named after booster club from Plant’s early years called simply, Dad’s Club.
  • US News and World Report ranked Plant High School the 22nd best public school in Florida and the 321st nationally in 2012.
  • Plant was named a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence in 1990 and 1997
  • Room 215 on the second floor of the main building was location of the original media center. Today it’s the art room.