Minden High School (Minden, Louisiana)

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Traditional Richardson Street entrance to Minden High School
The College Street entrance to Minden High School; after more than a half century of use, the institution was fully renovated when it opened for the August 2007 semester.
Rear view of renovated Minden High School
A view of Minden High School from the track field off McIntyre Street
Students assemble outside Minden High School in 1909
The 1930s gymnasium at Minden High School is still in use.
Minden High School holds homecoming the third weekend of October; here the Class of 1962 rides on a float for its 50th anniversary in the 2012 parade.

Minden High School (MHS) is the public secondary educational institution in Minden, a small city of 13,000 and the seat of Webster Parish located twenty-eight miles east of Shreveport in northwestern Louisiana. MHS houses grades nine through twelve (and a small number of eighth graders) but originally handled grades one through eleven prior to the establishment of the twelfth grade. The school is under the supervision of the elected Webster Parish School Board.

School history[edit]

Minden was founded in 1837 by Charles H. Veeder, a New York native who shaped the community into that of a parallelogram and divided the area into lots. He named the settlement after the home of his ancestors in Germany. Minden thereafter became the largest town in old Claiborne Parish, a part of which was separated to be included in the newer Webster Parish, named for Massachusetts statesman Daniel Webster.

In 1838, Minden received one of the first charters for a public school from the Louisiana State Legislature. Though the school charged tuition, it was open to all white children. Hence known as "Minden Academy", the school later split into the Minden Male Academy and the Minden Female College, both of which operated into the late 1890s. The current Minden High School is located on College Street on the site of Veeder's original Minden Academy.

In 1897, the Webster Parish School Board voted to establish a central high school in Minden. The trustees of the already existing Minden Normal and Business College offered a building.In 1900 Minden High School had two graduates: Dora Dupuy and Theressa Grigsby. These two young women began high school when the school was established in 1897(as noted earlier). The Commencement Program of that graduation still exists. In 1901, the first year of its existence as a high school, MHS graduated one senior, Harry Crichton. Since that time, more than six thousand have received diplomas from the institution. From 1913-1917, the principal was John Barnard Snell (1884–1959), husband of short story author Ada Jack Carver Snell (1890–1972) and father of David Snell (1921–1987), journalist and cartoonists with the defunct Life Magazine. Snell left the position for military service in World War I. On his return, he operated a successful cotton gin.

The historically black Minden Union School was established in 1923 and in 1941 was renamed Webster High School. One of the Webster principals was Robert T. Tobin, the interim African-American mayor of Minden in 1989.[1] In 1974, Webster High was blended into the desegregated Minden High School. As a result of the consolidation, the MHS Class of 1975, with 248 graduates, became the largest in school history. Other high schools were established in the Webster Parish communities of Dubberly, Heflin, Sibley, Doyline, Shongaloo, Sarepta, Cotton Valley, and in Springhill, the second largest city in the parish located adjacent to the Arkansas state boundary.

Since the closure and razing in 2011 of William G. Stewart, there are three elementary schools in Minden: E.S. Richardson, J. E. Harper and J. L. Jones, named for another former Webster High School principal. These schools send pupils to Webster Junior High School, which in turn directs them after the eighth grade to Minden High School.

Construction: 1924, 1954, 2007[edit]

A rare snow blankets the former Minden High School buildings (1924 structure on left; 1953 main building on the right); the 1924 building was razed in 2005, and the remaining facilities were fully renovated by 2007.

In 1924, a new two-story brick MHS building was located on College Street. It was used as the principal school facility until 1954, when a new brick structure opened to the east of the existing building. The 1954 two-story building cost $590,000 plus another $50,000 for furnisings for twenty-one regular classrooms, laboratories, and two faculty lounges. The construction was undertaken by Southern Builders of Shreveport.[2]

After the opening of the 1954 building, the 1924 structure continued to be used as a classroom building and as a girls' gymnasium until the early 21st century. It was razed in 2005 to make room for yet another new MHS building complex. This latest fully renovated MHS opened at the same location in late August 2007.

The new three-story structure features air-conditioned classrooms, a new gymnasium, computer services, and a cafeteria. After several defeats at the polls, including the rejection of a proposed new campus near Interstate 20, community and business leaders pushed through a $33 million tax package in an election held in January 2004. The renovations will hence replace the older Minden High and Webster Junior High campuses and upgrade elementary schools as well. The junior high facility opened in August 2008.

Superintendent E.S. Richardson[edit]

E.S. Richardson (1875–1950) served as Webster Parish superintendent from 1921-1936. In the summer of 1927, he made appearances across the nation to explain the school improvement and consolidation plan that he had created in Webster Parish. He spoke in seven states to educational conferences on what some had termed the "Webster miracle." Richardson continued with his reforms by the establishment of a uniform promotion plan of four principal points:

1) Promotions in the first three grades were based on work done in reading and numbers. For the second grade, a student had to perform in two minutes fifteen simple addition problems and nine subtraction problems.

2) In grades 4-7 a pupil had to pass arithmetic, reading, and language before being eligible for promotion. He could still be promoted with one failure in either of the other major subjects, history, civics, geography, and health.

3) A pupil absent from school for the last marking period could return for the final examinations provided he had performed passing work in arithmetic, reading, and language at the time of his withdrawal, and provided that his absence was for sufficient cause.

4) Examinations were given at the beginning of each year to pupils, on request, if they failed two subjects, one of which could be arithmetic, reading, or language. Pupils who withdrew from school after attending as many as one hundred days could hence take examinations in all subjects with a view of promotion, provided they were doing passing work in reading, arithmetic, and language at the time of their withdrawal.

Pupils absent during the last marking period and who returned for the final examinations but failed to make passing grades, could again take examinations in the subjects in which they failed. Uniform tests were prepared by the superintendent and teachers and advertised in the newspaper as to when and where they would be administered. By defining this policy, Richardson hoped to further the standardization he established in nearly all aspects of the parish system, from furniture to textbooks.

Richardson was previously the superintendent in Bienville Parish from 1916–1920, when at forty-five, he took the top position in Webster Parish. He left Webster Parish schools in 1936, when he began a five-year stint as the president of Louisiana Tech University (then Louisiana Polytechnic Institute) in Ruston. He is honored by the naming of E. S. Richardson Elementary on East Todd Street in the eastern part of Minden.

W. W. Williams years[edit]

W. W. Williams, Sr., Stadium at Minden High School
Maude C. Bullock was one of the first women administrators at Minden High School during the late 1950s, having been principal of the sixth, seventh, and eight grades. She spent her last years in professional education instructing the seventh grade as a founding faculty member at the former Theresa M. Lowe Junior High School, which opened in the fall of 1960. In retirement, she continued to tutor pupils privately. She is interred at her family plot at Camp Zion Cemetery east of Haughton in Bossier Parish.[3]

W. W. Williams (September 10, 1917– September 16, 2000), a native of Leesville in Vernon Parish in western Louisiana, began his teaching career in Shongaloo in Webster Parish. He was principal of E.S. Richardson Elementary School in Minden and then Minden High School, where he served from June 1952 to 1961. He and J. L. Cathcart, a native of South Carolina, switched principalships, with Cathcart transferred to Richardson and Williams to MHS.[4] During his administration, the new building opened in 1954, as did a new football stadium. In addition, a track, a covered walkway from the main building to the gymnasium, and parking lots were constructed. At the time, the gym contained one of the few indoor heated swimming pools in the state. Minden swim teams were state champions every single year of Williams' tenure. In 1981, the pool was abandoned when it became too costly to maintain.

The MHS Crimson Tide was the state football champion in 1954,1956, the state basketball champion in 1955 and 1959, and the runner-up in 1954, the baseball champion in 1956 and runner-up in 1954-1955, the state track runner-up in 1963, the state track champion in 1964, 1965 and 1966, and the Gulf Open golf champion in 1956. Shreveport sportswriters at the time began to refer to Minden teams as the "Home of the Champions." Even when the teams did not win statewide, they were invariably district champions in the respective sports. In 1960, the football team secured the district title but lost to Neville High School, a longstanding athletic rival in Monroe. The team won statewide again in 1963 and 1980. In 1963, the later Superintendent Wayne Williams, Jr., the older son of W. W. Williams, was a junior player on the winning MHS team.

MHS during the late 1950s and early 1960s ranked in the top 1 percent on national standardized test scores in English, the top 2 percent in science, the top 3 percent in mathematics, and the top 5 percent in social studies. The school has yet to match those tallies again.

Irene Williams, wife of W. W. Williams, served as the MHS secretary for many years. Maude Bullock (October 5, 1905 - July 5, 1987), who joined the Webster Parish school system in 1926 and was named the 1960 "Outstanding Educator of the Year", served for a time as principal of the junior-high section of the school before finishing her career as a seventh-grade teacher at the since defunct Theresa M. Lowe Junior High School.[5] In 1961, Williams was named "Citizen of the Year" by the Minden Lions Club.[6]

On September 4, 2009, the MHS football stadium was named the "W. W. Williams, Sr., Stadium."[7]

Principal Carlus D. Morgan[edit]

Carlus Dale Morgan (June 14, 1917 – October 18, 2007) succeeded Williams in 1961 as the MHS principal and served until 1969, when he became human resources director in the Webster Parish School Board office. He retired from the school system in the spring of 1971.

Morgan had a distinguished record in World War II, having served from 1941 to 1946. He received officer training at Morrison Field in Florida and was stationed for a time in both Newfoundland and Central America.[8] At twenty-five, he was a United States Army major in charge of dignitaries at the Casablanca Conference. The conference met between January 14 and January 24, 1943, at the Anfa Hotel in Casablanca, Morocco, then a French protectorate. Its purpose was to plan the European strategy of the Allies. Present were U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and General Charles de Gaulle, leader at the time of the Free French. The Casablanca Declaration called for the Allies to seek the "unconditional surrender" of the Axis Powers. The conference was followed by later summit meetings in Cairo, and Teheran.

Morgan was born in Webster Parish to Oliver Craten Morgan and the former Parma Rosana Armour. He graduated from the former Shongaloo High School and first attended Louisiana College in Pineville but then completed his bachelor and master's degrees from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He was already teaching by the time that he entered the Army. After the war, he was appointed the principal of Heflin High School in Heflin in south Webster Parish. In 1960, he was named by the Webster Parish School Board as the first principal of the then newly opened Lowe Junior High School (since the Webster Parish Alternative School) in Minden. The school was named for Laura Theresa McConnell Lowe (1907–1959), a highly regarded Webster Parish educator originally from Rayville in Richland Parish. Morgan's former position at Heflin High School went to Harry Campbell, later the Webster Parish superintendent.[9] Morgan served a year at Lowe until he was named principal of Minden High School in 1961.

On December 13, 1942, then Lieutenant Morgan married the former Marion Inez Kirkley (March 9, 1925- June 1, 2001), the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John T. Kirkley. John Kirkley was a farmer and a former employee of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture. The couple lived in the Evergreen Community north of Minden. The Morgans had two daughters, Barbara Ann Morgan Bogan (1944-July 7, 2007) and Sandra Morgan Morgan, wife of John Paul Morgan (both born 1948). Both daughters graduated from Minden High School when their father was the principal.

On November 21, 1987, Morgan was narrowly elected to the Webster Parish Police Jury, the governing body of the parish, akin to county commissions in other states. He defeated his fellow Democrat, Joe Pearce, 473 (51 percent) to 463 (49 percent). He maintained an interest in rural development but did not seek reelection in 1991.

Morgan died in a Bossier City hospital of complications from a fall. Services were held on October 22, 2007, with the Reverends Floyd Stratton, Ben Jordan, and Carol Daye Heard (1946-2013) officiating. Miss Heard had been a Minden High School student during the time of Morgan's principalship. In addition to his daughter Sandra, Morgan was survived by two sisters, Maggie Mackey of Lafayette, and Eulyne Adkins of Shongaloo; a brother, Bill Morgan of Lafayette; four grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

A member of the Evergreen Union Church, Morgan is interred at the Evergreen Cemetery. Pallbearers included Webster Parish Superintendent Wayne Williams, Jr., and two former superintendents, Richard V. Noles and the late Matt Martin.[10]

Principal and Coach Cleve Strong[edit]

Former principal Cleve Strong (left) with a former student, Joy Garriss Connell, at a Minden High School alumni meeting in 2005

Morgan was succeeded as principal by Cleveland "Cleve" Strong (October 18, 1923 - July 13, 2008), who served from 1967 to 1984. The son of Otis Lee and Lena Strong, he was born in Haughton in south Bossier Parish and died at his residence in Minden. He graduated in 1942 from Doyline High School in Doyline in south Webster Parish. He served in the United States Navy from 1942-1946 during World War II. After the war, he procured his bachelor's degree from Centenary College, a Methodist-affiliated institution in Shreveport, where he was a three-year letterman in basketball, was captain of the men's basketball team during his senior year, and was an all-conference guard. He then earned a master's degree from Peabody College in Nashville, Tennessee, and he procured thirty graduate hours beyond his master's from Louisiana Tech in Ruston. He was recalled by the military to serve in the Korean War from 1951 to 1952. After teaching a year at Ringgold High School in neighboring Bienville Parish, Strong came to Minden High School in 1953 as the basketball coach. In ten seasons, his teams won 312 games and lost 97, a .763 success rate.[11]

Under Strong's guidance, MHS won one state runner-up and two state championship titles in 1955, when Jackie Moreland was a player, and again in 1959. During the time that Strong was either coach or principal, MHS teams won more than twenty state championships. In 1955 and 1959, he coached Louisiana High School Athletic Association All-Star teams. He was the first basketball coach named to the Louisiana High School Coaches Association. On January 28, 1988, Strong was inducted into the LHSAA Hall of Fame.[12]

Strong served as MHS principal for seventeen years. In 1984, the school board in a 6-5 vote named him the secondary education supervisor. In that capacity, he replaced Everett Doerge, a future state representative, who was elevated to assistant superintendent under Jerry Lott, who had succeeded Harry Campbell in 1984, upon Campbell's retirement after a long career that culminated in six years as superintendent.[13] The late Matt Martin, then the principal of Sarepta High School, succeeded Strong at MHS.[14]

Strong and his wife of fifty-two years, Evelyn Strong, had a son, Dr. Thomas Strong (born March 11, 1957) and wife Kim of Lake Charles, and daughters Linda Jones and husband Bill of Benton in Bossier Parish, and Janet Merrell and husband Larry of Bossier City; sisters Virginia Allen (1921–2010) of Minden, Josephine Rodgers and husband Dave of West Monroe in Ouachita Parish, brother Otis L. Strong, Jr., and wife LaVerne of Minden, and six grandchildren. Strong was Baptist. He is interred at Gardens of Memory Cemetery in Minden.

Desegregation[edit]

MHS was desegregated in January 1966, when two African-American male students, Elroy Allums and George Washington, Jr., were enrolled without incident.[15] On May 24, 1966, during the Morgan years, Allums became the first black in history to graduate from Minden High School.[16] A second phase of desegregation ordered by the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana in Shreveport was launched in the middle 1970s, with the closure and consolidation of the former all-black Webster High School effective with the 1974-1975 school year. Thereafter, MHS became majority black in enrollment. The latest total is 54 percent black, 45 percent white, and 1 percent Hispanic. Some whites vacated the institution for the private Glenbrook High School, which was established in 1970 within the First Baptist Church and thereafter in its own building off the Lewisville Road, or for home schooling, which particularly gained popularity in the 1990s.

Notable faculty and administrators[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Pat Culverhouse, "History comes alive for grads", Minden Press-Herald, July 30, 1993, p. 1
  2. ^ "MHS building opens", picture caption, Minden Press, September 16, 1954, p. 1
  3. ^ "Maude Bullock". findagrave.com. Retrieved November 12, 2012. 
  4. ^ Minden Press, June 6, 1952, p. 1
  5. ^ Maude Bullock, Mary Kirkley Recipients of Teacher Awards", Minden Herald, January 21, 1960, p. 1
  6. ^ Minden Herald, April 19, 1962, p. 1
  7. ^ "It's official: Stadium named for W. W. Williams," Minden Press-Herald, September 7, 2009
  8. ^ "The Men and Women in World War II, from Webster Parish, Louisiana". Freepages.military.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Archived from the original on 2011-02-12. Retrieved May 1, 2009. 
  9. ^ "Carlus Morgan Recommended for Junior High Principal", Minden Herald, March 10, 1960, p. 1
  10. ^ New Page 0 Archived 12 February 2011 at WebCite
  11. ^ Joey White, "Strong is honored by Louisiana High School Athletic Association", Minden Press-Herald, January 19, 1984, p. 6A
  12. ^ Jeff Clemons, "Strong Named to Hall of Fame", Minden Press-Herald, January 3, 1988, p. 6
  13. ^ "Strong named secondary supervisor", Minden Press-Herald, August 21, 1984, p. 1
  14. ^ "Matt Martin replaces Strong", Minden Press Herald, September 7, 1984, p. 1
  15. ^ "Integration of Three City Schools Without Incident", Minden Press-Herald, January 17, 1966, p. 11
  16. ^ Minden Press-Herald, May 25, 1966
  17. ^ "The Boucher Company, Inc.: Profile of Jesse L. Boucher". boucherco.com. Archived from the original on 2011-02-12. Retrieved September 1, 2009. 
  18. ^ "Obituary of J.E. "Pat" Patterson". Shreveport Times. Archived from the original on 2011-02-12. Retrieved December 2, 2010. 
  19. ^ "Raymond Wayne Tate obituary". Minden Press=Herald, March 24, 2010. Archived from the original on 2011-02-12. Retrieved March 24, 2010.