Lamar High School (Houston, Texas)

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Lamar High School
LamarEmblem.jpg
Address
3325 Westheimer Road
Houston, Texas, 77098
United States
Information
Type Public
Motto French: Va t'en aux étoiles
(Reach for the Stars)
Established 1936
School district Houston ISD
Principal Dr. James McSwain
Grades 912
Enrollment 3,209 (2013-14)[1]
Campus Urban
Color(s) Red, Blue , White
Athletics conference UIL
Mascot Texans[2]
Newspaper Lamar Life
Yearbook Orenda
Website
Lamar High School

Mirabeau B. Lamar Senior High School is a secondary school located in Houston, Texas, United States, with a zip code of 77098. Lamar High School, which serves grades 9 through 12, is part of the Houston Independent School District.

Lamar, which is located in the Upper Kirby district,[3] serves the Houston neighborhood of River Oaks, the incorporated city of West University Place, a portion of the city of Southside Place, and other Houston subdivisions.

The school has a business magnet program offering business management courses, as well as cooperation with the Houston business community to provide internships and university scholarships.

The school handles grades nine through twelve. Lamar High School has neighborhood, Advanced Placement, and IB Diploma Programme (International Baccalaureate) programs. Lamar has one of two high school level IB Diploma programs in the Houston Independent School District and, therefore, is one of HISD's seven IB World Schools.[4] Lamar High School consistently has the greatest number of students who graduate with the IB Diploma in Texas.[5] Lamar offers many International Baccalaureate Diploma classes, including five foreign languages: Chinese, French, Italian, Spanish, and Russian. In 2006, 86 students were awarded the IB Diploma, and one-third of the school population consisted of candidates for the IB Diploma. Lamar has one of the largest IB Diploma program in North America.

The school's mascot for its sports teams is the Lamar Texans (see "Sports" section).

Campus[edit]

Courtyard of Lamar High School. Lamar students wearing school uniforms are visible in this picture.
Entrance to the Lamar JROTC Building

The campus is located on the southern end of River Oaks Boulevard.[6]

The Lamar High School campus consists of four buildings, a baseball field, a football field, and tennis courts.

The North Building is a four-story building (including the basement level) which was the original building built in 1936. Its consists of many classrooms, the main office, attendance office, magnet office, International Baccalaureate office, special education office, auditorium, band room, cooking room, and the choir room. It was built in a distinctive Art Deco style.[citation needed] The building was made of Texas limestone and the windows are the steel ribbon style. It consists of a single central block with the Ned S. Holmes Auditorium at the western end. The entrance to the theater is decorated by a relief map of Texas that indicates the state's mountain ranges and escarpment John F. Staub and Kenneth Franzheim designed it, while Lamar Q. Cato, Louis A. Glover, and Harry D. Payne assisted. Nino Lenarduzzi designed the map on the auditorium. Anna Mod, author of Building Modern Houston, wrote that the theater entrance uses "a more monumenta and severe Moderne style".[6]

The West Building is a two-story building that was built in 1987. It consists of science laboratories and computer laboratories. Practice and performance gymnasiums are found in this building.

The two-story East Building was built at the same time as the West Building. It consists of senior classrooms, the cafeteria, art rooms, the news broadcast lab, the library, the theatre, book room, and JROTC rivalry rooms.

The fourth building is the natatorium. The natatorium was built in 1991 to replace the pool in the basement of the north building. Bailey Architects built the last three buildings. Unlike the East and West buildings, which are connected to each other and the north building through a series of second-story crosswalks, the natatorium is completely separate.

The school has a large map of Texas on the wall of the recently renovated performance hall. In 2012 Richard Connelly of the Houston Press ranked Lamar as the seventh most architecturally beautiful high school campus in Greater Houston, saying that it is "[d]efinitely one of the most distinctive schools in town."[7]

Greg Groogan of KRIV-TV said "there's nothing 'Cadillac' about the school", citing the air conditioners that often fail, small classrooms in the school's original section that were designed to house 15 students but routinely host classes of around 40 students, and a lack of shower facilities. The PE facilities have 15 shower heads to serve the entire male student body, numbering at 1,600.[8]

Lamar High School's 2006 addition[edit]

November 29, 2006, at 11:00am, groundbreaking for construction of a new $150,000 athletic storage building was held at the rear of the school complex and was attended by the donating Lamar Alumni Board, the Alumni Executive Director, contributors, HISD officials, Principal James McSwain, staff, and many students and parents. This is the first new building on the Lamar campus in 20 years. The building opened in July 2007 and contains storage for athletic equipment and air-conditioned toilet facilities.[9]

History[edit]

In the 19th century Michael Louis Westheimer, a German immigrant who arrived in Houston in 1859, bought a 640-acre (2.6 km2) farm at an auction for $2.50 per acre. On his property Westheimer established a school for local children, including some of his relatives from Germany. The path to the school became "Westheimer's Road," now called Westheimer Road.[10][11][12]

The entrance to the Lamar High School auditorium is decorated with a map of the state of Texas.

The Houston Independent School District built and established Lamar on the former site of Westheimer's farm in 1936. Earlier the Southampton Civic Club attempted to persuade Houston ISD to build Lamar at a lot along Kirby and West Alabama; the attempt failed and Lamar was built across from River Oaks.[13] Lamar opened in 1937 along Westheimer Road which was not paved.[14] The opening relieved pressure on San Jacinto High School in what is now Midtown.[15]

Lamar grew rapidly to the point where Robert E. Lee High School was built in 1962 to relieve Lamar.[16] Lamar became an IB school in 1982[17] In 1987 the school had held its 50th anniversary. It had sent invitations to Tommy Tune, Robert Foxworth, Jaclyn Smith, Tommy Sands, Carlin Glynn, Paula Prentiss, and Candy Tovar. The plan for the outdoor festivities called for Mayor of Houston Kathy Whitmire, former Governor of Texas Mark White, former Mayor of Houston Fred Hofheinz, Superintendent of HISD Joan Raymond, and others were scheduled to give special presentations.[18]

The Business Administration Magnet Program was established in 1989.[19]

In September 1991 Lamar was one of 32 HISD schools that had capped enrollments: The school was at capacity and excess students had to attend other schools.[20] The graduating class of 2009 had the largest number of seniors Lamar ever had, with 886 students. The next class dropped to a little over 600 students.[citation needed]

Fran Callahan, a resident of the Old Braeswood neighborhood of Houston, founded the Lamar Alumni Association around 1998 and became its executive director. She decided to create an alumni association after she inquired about making a large-scale fundraising campaign and learned that Lamar, which had many famous individuals as alumni, had no alumni association.[21]

In 2003 the class of 1953, which included business owners, a film producer, a Nobel prize winner, a nominee for U.S. Secretary of State and a former assistant of the U.S. Secretary of Defense, lawyers, engineers, and an architect, held its 50th reunion. A tour of the Lamar campus and a formal buffet and dance at the Houston Country Club was scheduled for Saturday November 8, 2003. A brunch was scheduled at the University Club in the morning of Sunday November 9, 2003.[22] In 2004, Tune performed at Lamar.[19] Foxworth and Jaclyn Smith attended the performance.[23]

In 2006 Callahan started a $3 million capital campaign to raise money for the school.[21]

In 2007, Lamar was ranked as in Jay Mathews Newsweek's lists of the top high schools in the United States.[24] Many students in other parts of Houston ISD transfer to Lamar to escape home schools that do not have a good academic performance, causing the attendance figures of those schools to suffer.[25]

In 2007 Todd Spivak of the Houston Press reported about the magazine's feature "These Kids Go to the Best Public High School in Houston." Spivak said that Lamar High School, which he described as "well-regarded," received a lower rating due a 66% graduation rate. Dr. Robert Sanborn, president and CEO of the Children at Risk organization, said that there was an achievement gap at Lamar between the top-performing students and the lowest-performing students.[26]

In 2007 22% of high-school-age children zoned to Lamar chose to attend a different Houston ISD school.[27] In 2009 the increasing number of students taking university preparatory classes applied to public universities due to the late-2000s recession.[28] In 2010 Lamar, which has a capacity of 2,525, was 740 students over capacity; Lamar is popular with students who do not want to attend their home schools.[29]

In 2010 Magnet Schools of America, a nonprofit, released a report recommending that Lamar's magnet program be abolished, due to overcrowding.[30]

In 2014 Terry Grier stated that Lamar should reduce its enrollment to around 3,000 students.[31]

Lamar as a filming location[edit]

The school is seen in the movie Rushmore.[32] In Rushmore the campus is used as the setting for Grover Cleveland High School.[33] Richard Connelly of the Houston Press said that the Lamar building "was ghetto'd up to look like a dilapidated inner-city school."[7]

The school was featured in the Chuck Norris film: Sidekicks.[34]

2000s LHS Capital Campaign[edit]

A simulated image of Lamar's front lawn after the Capital Campaign is completed
Lamar's 50th anniversary time capsule

The Lamar Alumni Association started a campaign to improve the facilities at Lamar.[35] The campaign is called "Reach For The Stars." The alumni asked Lamar parents to donate money for this campaign. The goal is to raise $3 million. As of March 2007, $1.8 million had been raised.

The historic auditorium is the main focus of the project. It is where Tommy Tune, Jaclyn Smith, Paula Prentiss, and Robert Foxworth got their start in stardom. The auditorium currently consists of the 1936-style wooden seats and has dated sound, lighting systems, and stage.

The campaign includes improvements to and additions of the horticulture Center, theater, campus fence, library, south courtyard, electronic message boards along Westheimer and West Alabama roads, Grand plaza, main office, college corner, JROTC center, orchestra room, choir room, Broadcast Journalism Studio/Production Room, dance studio, FFA classroom, furniture shop, parents' office, the principal's office, art classrooms, registrar office, piano lab, teacher's lounge, Business Magnet Office, nurse's station, counselor's office, science and computer labs, and endowment.

Lamar's 50th anniversary time capsule[edit]

On October 17, 1987, Lamar High School and its students celebrated its 50th anniversary by creating a time capsule to teach the students in the future how high school life was like in the 1980s. The time capsule was buried in front of Lamar's main entrance where it lies today. The plaque that marks where the time capsule lies is made from marble donated by the community of River Oaks and fund raising events held at Lamar at the time.

The plaque of Lamar's time capsule reads...

Lamar High School

Fiftieth Anniversary Time Capsule

HEREIN LIES MEMENTOS SELECTED BY STUDENTS AND GRADUATES OF LAMAR HIGH SCHOOL IN COMMEMORATION OF THE FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY, SEALED ON OCTOBER 17TH, 1987. THE CAPSULE IS TO BE OPENED ON THE ONE HUNDREDTH ANNIVERSARY, THE YEAR 2037

Demographics[edit]

Many students in the 1950s had referred to River Oaks Boulevard as the only street with a country club at both ends. One was the River Oaks Country Club, and the "other" was Lamar High School.[21][22] In 1967 the school had 2,040 students. Until 1970 HISD categorized Hispanic students as being White, so Jay P. Childers, author of The Evolving Citizen: American Youth and the Changing Norms of Democratic Engagement, wrote that in terms of ethnic ratios, "Exact numbers for the late 1960s are impossible to calculate" for that reason.[36] As evidence that White students were the vast majority at that time, he used images from the school newspaper, The Lancer.[36]

Childers wrote that ethnic change "seemed" to have quickly occurred after desegregation, citing the fact that in Spring 1974 African Americans made up six of twelve of the class officers and that in 1972 the cover of one issue of the Lancer showed a black male.[36] In 2006 Lisa Viator from the Houston Chronicle stated that between the 1950s and 2006 the school had transitioned from "an exclusive suburban institution" to a multiethnic urban high school.[21]

As of 2010 the Lamar campus was built to accommodate 2,525 students but houses an additional 740 students as of the 2010–2011 school year. It is one of the most popular high schools for transferring in HISD.[37]

Transportation[edit]

Houston ISD provides school buses for students who live more than two miles (3 km) from the school or who have major obstacles between their houses and the school. Students are eligible if they are zoned to Lamar or are in the Lamar magnet program.

A METRO bus stop (Westheimer Road @ River Oaks Boulevard) is at the school's entrance. Bus lines 81 & 82 (Westheimer)[38] stops at Westheimer @ River Oaks.

School uniforms[edit]

Before fall 2006, Lamar maintained a dress code allowing for students to wear most types of clothing.[39] Starting in the 2006–2007 school year, the school requires school uniforms.[40] Uniforms consist of monogrammed navy or white Lamar polo shirts and khaki bottoms. All shoe types are permitted, including flip-flops; female students are allowed to wear plaid skirts. The Texas Education Agency specifies that the parents and/or guardians of students zoned to a school with uniforms may apply for a waiver to opt out of the uniform policy so their children do not have to wear the uniform; parents must specify "bona fide" reasons, such as religious reasons or philosophical objections.[41]

Of the more than twenty HISD high schools that, as of 2007, had a standardized dress code or uniforms, Lamar was the only one that had a White plurality. The principal, James McSwain, cited safety concerns with a world after the Columbine High School massacre and the September 11, 2001 attacks as the reason for the school's adoption of uniforms. The newly created policy received opposition from some students and parents;[42] the policy was criticized in the May 16, 2006 Houston Chronicle by Alice Davidson in her "Screaming in the Halls" column in the "Yo! Houston" section of the newspaper.[43] Davidson was a student columnist who attended Lamar. The Houston Chronicle printed a feature about the Lamar uniform policy in the August 22, 2006 edition of the Yo! section;[44] the feature was written by Jessica Silverman, a student at Lamar as of 2006.[45]

In summer 2009, summer school students at Lamar were required to buy a uniform that differed from the regular Lamar uniform.[46]

Neighborhoods served by Lamar[edit]

Within Lamar attendance boundary[edit]

Many parts of Houston west of Downtown that are inside the 610 Loop are zoned to Lamar.[47] River Oaks,[29][48] Afton Oaks, Upper Kirby,[3] Avalon Place, Avondale, Southgate, Morningside Place, Highland Village, Shadyside, West Lane Place, Lynn Park, Oak Estates, Royden Oaks, Old Braeswood, Boulevard Oaks, Southampton Place, most of Cottage Grove,[49] Sunset Terrace, Broadacres,[50] Ranch Estates, Rice Village, Rice Military, Crestwood/Glen Cove, Weslayan Plaza, Willowick Place,[51] the portions of Braeswood Place east of Stella Link and north of South Braeswood (including Braes Heights and Braes Oaks), most of Midtown, a small portion of Riverside Terrace, and the Neartown area (including Montrose, Cherryhurst [3], Westmoreland,[52] Hyde Park, Richwood, Lancaster Place, Castle Court, and North Montrose) are also zoned to Lamar.[53]

In addition, all pupils in the city of West University Place and the majority of pupils in the city of Southside Place (areas east of Stella Link Road) are zoned to Lamar.[54][55]

Rice Village Apartments and Morningside Square, two Rice University graduate housing complexes that admit families, are zoned to this school.[56] 7900 Cambridge and 1885 El Paseo, the student housing properties of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, are also zoned to Lamar.[57]

Within Lee High School attendance boundary with Lamar as an option[edit]

Students residing in the Lee attendance zone,[58] including the Uptown district and the neighborhoods of Briarmeadow, Briargrove,[59] Briarcroft, Gulfton, Larchmont, Tanglewilde, St. George Place (Lamar Terrace), Shenandoah,[60] Tanglewood, West Oaks, Woodlake Forest, Jeanetta, Sharpstown Country Club Estates, and small portions of Westchase east of Gessner, may go to Lamar, Lee High, or Westside High.[53] Small portions of the cities of Hunters Creek Village and Piney Point Village are zoned to Lee with options for Lamar and Westside.[61][62][63]

Athletics[edit]

Lamar High School's sports' mascot is the "Lamar Texans." Prior to this, the mascot was the "Redskins." This mascot was phased out and replaced with the "Texans," as "Redskins" is considered by some to be derogatory to the Native American population.[64][65] In April 2014 the HISD school board decided to rename remaining sports team names of Confederate and Native American mascots due to fears of appearing culturally insensitive. Each school submitted its main choices to the HISD administration. The majority of Lamar students voted for Texian, but the school adopted "Texan" because HISD board members believed "Texan" was better than "Texian" since the latter could be culturally insensitive.[66]

Lamar Texans' arch rivals are the Bellaire High Cardinals from Houston suburb Bellaire, Texas. Their main competition are soccer and baseball.[citation needed]

Lamar won the 1953 State Football Championship.[citation needed]

Lamar won the 1969 State Baseball championship.

Lamar has one of the oldest lacrosse programs in Texas.[citation needed] The men's lacrosse team won the state championships in 1989 and 1995, and were state runner-ups in 1999 and 2001. The women's lacrosse team won the state championship in 1999 and 2011. The 2011 Women's Varsity team had five players named to the US Lacrosse Academic American Team.

The Lamar Redskins football program teams have reached the playoffs 30 times, which ties Baytown Lee for the highest-ranking team in Greater Houston area.[67] In 2012, the Redskins reached the Texas 5A Division 1 Football Championship and lost to the Allen High School (Allen, Texas) Eagles, 35-21. [68]

Other sports at the school include:[69]

  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Cross-Country
  • Field Hockey
  • Golf
  • Ice Hockey
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Swimming/Diving
  • Tennis
  • Track & Field
  • Volleyball
  • Water Polo [70]
  • Wrestling

Lamar organizations and clubs[edit]

Lamar FFA Show & Auction at LHS Front Lawn

Lamar High School has several organizations and clubs.
Special Interest[71] American Field Service, Amnesty International, Animal Welfare Society, Asian Cultural Society, Automotive Innovative Installation Design, Best Buddies, Bike Club, Biology Club, Breakfast Club, Chess Club, Christian Student Union, Culinary Arts, Computer Service Club, Drama Club, Debate Club, Entrepreneurs of America, Field Hockey, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Film Club, French Club, Frolf (Frisbee Golf/ Disc Golf) Club, Future Farmers of America (FFA), Gay-Straight Alliance, German Club, Hispanic Club, Golf, Ice hockey, Industrial Technology Club, Italian Club, Japanese Club, La Vida Dulce, Loading Dock Productions, Lacrosse, PACE, Photography Club, Ping Pong Club Russian Club,RAMAL Scrabble Club, Skateboarding Club, Sub Log Indian Club, Technology Student Association, Ultimate, Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game Club, Young Ladies of Distinction, Young Democrats Young Libertarians, Young Republican Club of America, Wichocolate, Pow-Wowerade, Robotics ( FRC, VEX)

Performing Arts[72] Band – Marching & Concert, Concert Women, Choir, Choraliers, Concert Band, Dance / Dance Theatre, Drama Club/Thespians, Jazz Studio, Madrigals, Orchestra, Poets Alive, Rangerettes Drill Team.

Academics and Honors[73] Academic Decathlon, Arrowhead (4.0 + GPA), Debate, DECA (Marketing Club), French National Honor Society, German National Honor Society, Russian Club, IB Diploma Candidates, Latin Honor Society, Magnet School, Math Club (Mu Alpha Theta), National Honor Society, Odyssey of the Mind, Quill and Scroll, Quiz Bowl, Spanish National Honor Society.

Service and Spirit[74] Cheerleaders, Diamonds, Interact, Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps, Key Club, Muslim Student Association, Rangerettes Drill Team, Senior Class, Wakonda (Freshmen Club), Warriors.

News[75] Lamar Life (Newspaper), Orenda (Yearbook).

Leadership[76] Lamar Student Council.

Technology Lamar Robotics Club

Lamar Life is a full-color quarterly news magazine. Childers described it as resembling "a strange blending of Newsweek and Teen Vogue."[36] The school newspaper was previously The Lancer. Childers wrote that the Lancer during the mid-1990s "took a decidedly downward turn" and in 2000 was ended. Lamar Life began in its place.[36]

Lamar Cable Television (LCT)[edit]

Lamar High School has its own news broadcast called Lamar Cable Television.[77] In LCT, students are the reporters and provide information about events at school and in the outside world. The entire program is student-run including grading. The class is supervised by Raymond Gayle who directed the movie Electric Purgatory. Most elective teachers do not show LCT, and it has been called a waste of educational time by many students at Lamar, yet many do enjoy it. It is required to be viewed on a daily basis, extending the second class of the day by an extra 15 minutes.

Orenda Yearbook and Lamar Life News Magazine[edit]

The journalism department consists of an award winning yearbook that is in its 74th year of production. Both staffs are student run where students decide on story ideas and interview, design and complete all of the duties to run a small business. The yearbook is fully paid for by yearbook sales and community ads. The news magazine is printed in house and is a full color magazine. Both staffs are advised by Shelbi Blackmon.

Research center[edit]

In 2010 the school announced that it would replace its traditional school library with a coffee bar and electronic research center.[78] The coffee bar is operated by LHS's culinary program.[79]

Sister school[edit]

Dalian No. 24 High School in Dalian, People's Republic of China has been Lamar's sister school since 2000.[80][81] Dalian is one of Houston's sister cities as designated by Sister Cities International.[82]

Inage Senior High School in Chiba City, Chiba Prefecture, Japan is also one of Lamar's sister schools.[83] Chiba has been Houston's sister city through Sister Cities International since 1973.[82]

Feeder patterns[edit]

Schools that feed into Lamar[edit]

Elementary schools that feed into Lamar[47] include:

Middle schools that feed into Lamar include:

All pupils zoned to Pershing Middle School may apply to Pin Oak Middle School's regular program;[105] therefore Pin Oak also feeds into Lamar High School.

Schools that feed into Lee with Lamar and Westside as options[edit]

More schools feed into Lamar as all students zoned to Lee High School[58] may instead choose to go to Lamar High School or Westside High School.[61]

Elementary schools that feed into Lee (and therefore feed into Lamar) include:

  • Briargrove[106]
  • Benavidez[107]
  • Piney Point[108]
  • Rodriguez[109]
  • Braeburn (partial)[110]
  • Condit (partial)[111]
  • Cunningham (partial)[112]
  • Emerson (partial)[113]
  • St. George Place (partial)[95] (the rest directly feeds into Lamar)
  • Sutton (partial)[114]

Middle schools that feed into Lee (and therefore also feed into Lamar) include:

  • Grady[115]
  • Long (partial)[116]
  • Pershing (partial)[104]
  • Revere (partial)[117]
  • All pupils zoned to Long and Pershing Middle Schools may attend Pin Oak Middle School;[105] therefore Pin Oak also feeds into Lee High School and Lamar High School.

K-8 schools that feed into Lee (and therefore also feed into Lamar) include:

  • Pilgrim[118]
  • Residents of the Briargrove, Emerson, Pilgrim, and Piney Point elementary attendance zones may apply for the Briarmeadow Charter School, so the K-8 school feeds into Lee.[119]

Notable alumni[edit]

See also[edit]

Henry Grover, former history teacher at Lamar High School, member of both houses of the Texas State Legislature and Republican gubernatorial nominee in 1972[citation needed]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Official websites[edit]

Miscellaneous[edit]

  • [4] Houston InTown Magazine article about Fran Callahan's fundraising efforts for Lamar High School
  • [5] Various photographs of Lamar High School