Wheatley High School (Houston)

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Wheatley High School
Fine Arts Complex and John F. Codwell Auditorium

Phillis Wheatley High School is a secondary school located at 4801 Providence Street in Houston, Texas, United States with a ZIP code of 77020.

Wheatley, which serves 6 years, is a part of the Houston Independent School District. Wheatley, named after Phillis Wheatley, is located inside the 610 Loop in the Fifth Ward. Wheatley had one of the lowest enrollments of any zoned Houston ISD high school with 836 students during the 2004-2005 school year [3]. In 2008, Wheatley had an enrollment of 1,235.

Wheatley has a technology magnet program inherited from the closure of Middle College for Technology Careers in spring 2006; Wheatley's program began in fall 2006.

History[edit]

The Carter Career Center/DeVry Advantage Academy building, which formerly served as the Wheatley High School building

Wheatley first opened at 3415 Lyons Avenue in the former McGowan Elementary School building.[1]

In 1927 Wheatley High School was one of the largest Black high schools in the United States with 2,600 students and 60 teachers.[2]

By 1949 Wheatley's first facility on Lyons Avenue became so overcrowded that students attended in shifts. During that year the 14-acre (57,000 m2), $2.5 million 4900 Market Street campus opened. The most expensive high school built in Houston at the time, the campus was designed by the firm MacKie & Kamrath in a Frank Lloyd Wright-influenced modernist style. The campus, described by the Houston Chronicle as "the finest Negro high school in the South," had a 1,500-seat auditorium, a gymnasium, an industrial arts facility, and a swimming pool. The school district spent attention on Wheatley in order to promote the argument that segregated minority schools can be equal to segregated White schools. The former Wheatley campus became E.O. Smith Middle School,[3][4] and later the Carter Career Center.[3]

In May 1965 William Lawson, a youth minister, asked some Wheatley students to discuss a proposed school boycott. While the school district was integrating, African American leaders believed that it was being integrated too slowly. During the boycott, which occurred five days later, 10% of Wheatley students attended classes. In the 1970s Houston ISD had been desegregated. As the Fifth Ward as a neighborhood experienced a surge in crime, Houston ISD rezoned the Denver Harbor neighborhood, which had many White residents, to Wheatley. At that time the neighborhood was quickly becoming Hispanic. Many area Hispanic students preferred to attend Austin High School and Furr High School as they became the majority population at those schools. John Nova Lomax of the Houston Press stated that pride and discipline at Wheatley began to disintegrate in the 1970s, as counselors complained about a low level of morale among the students. The school abolished corporal punishment around that time, since White parents did not want Black teachers to physically punish white students, and Black parents did not want White teachers to physically punish black students. In addition, many of Wheatley's new White teachers, many of whom did not live in the Fifth Ward, had a lack of experience in teaching inner city Black students. Wylie Henry, a former HISD board member, said that many of the new White teachers "came in and tried to be kids' friends instead of their teachers."[5] By 1978 rumors circulated stating that Houston ISD wanted to close Wheatley.[citation needed]

In the mid-1980s, as crack cocaine became an epidemic in many American neighborhoods, Wheatley students and teachers complained about security issues regarding some area apartments. In 1985 three youngsters walked onto the campus and shot an English teacher who had been conducting drill team rehearsals in the cafeteria. In 1986 a Hispanic student who had transferred from Dallas shot another Hispanic student in the face. After Joan Raymond became superintendent in 1986, she considered closing Wheatley because of difficulties in making the school have acceptable academic achievement and safety. Michael Berryhill of the Houston Press said that it was not politically possible to have the school closed since there were too many Wheatley alumni who did not want their school to be closed.[6]

In the 1990s Wheatley had low test scores and high dropout rates. In 1995 Wheatley had the highest dropout rate and lowest mathematics score of the high schools in Houston ISD.[7] In 1997 none of the teachers at Wheatley High School lived in the Wheatley attendance zone.[3] During the same year, of the 1,800 high-school-age children zoned to Wheatley, less than 1,000 attended the school.[5]

A new campus for Wheatley High School, designed by Willie Jordan, a Wheatley alum, was under construction in the same plot of land as the first 4900 Market Street campus, although the address changed to 4801 Providence Street.[8] The construction ended in fall 2006 and the new campus opened.[9] The old 4900 Market Street campus was demolished.

The new campus's original budget was $35,000,000. Construction began in summer 2004 and ended during summer 2006. The lead architect was ESPA Architecture, with the lead manager as Gilbane. The population of the school increased when Middle College for Technology Careers merged into Wheatley.[10]

As of August 2007, the fine arts and auditorium buildings were finished constructed. Although the interior of both the auditorium and the fine arts room remain mostly the same there are now new hallways, classrooms and stairwells. The fine arts room was the old school's library.

In 2007 a Johns Hopkins University study cited Wheatley as a "dropout factory" where at least 40% of the entering freshman class does not make it to their senior year.

Schools that received students zoned to Wheatley included Davis High School, Furr High School, Barbara Jordan High School, and Reagan High School.[11] During that year 58% of children zoned to Kashmere chose to attend a different Houston ISD school.[10]


In 2009, Wheatley High School became Texas Education Agency Acceptable and met Adequately Yearly Progress.

The former Carter building later became DeVry Advantage Academy.[12]

Neighborhoods served by Wheatley[edit]

Neighborhoods zoned to Wheatley include the Fifth Ward (including Frenchtown), Denver Harbor, Liberty Heights, Barnes and Whetmore, St. Charles Square, Pecan Park Terrace, and a section of East Downtown.[13]

Two Houston public housing complexes, Clayton Homes and Kelly Village, are zoned to Wheatley.

A Houston mixed-income housing complex, Kennedy Place, is zoned to Wheatley.

School uniforms[edit]

Students are required to wear school uniforms.

Trousers must be khaki or blue docker-style. Belts are required and closed-toe shoes and tennis shoes are required.

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.[14]

Campus[edit]

The current $35 million Wheatley campus opened in June 2006. The architect of the campus, ESPA Group, won an award for "Outstanding Architecture and Design in Education" by School Planning & Management magazine for the Wheatley campus. The school appears in the June 2008 issue of School Planning & Management's Education Design Showcase.[15]

In 2012 Richard Connelly of the Houston Press ranked Wheatley as the fifth most architecturally beautiful high school campus in Greater Houston. Connelly said that "High schools don't have to be classic to shine. The geometric playfulness of Wheatley gives it a distinctive look."[16]

Athletics[edit]

Michael Berryhill of the Houston Press wrote that in the pre-desegregation era Wheatley "dominated black high school basketball in Texas" but it was not a "consistent power" in American football.[3] The school won many trophies from the state basketball tournament, which was held at Prairie View A&M University. Each Thanksgiving the school's American football team played Yates High School's football team at the Jeppeson Stadium. In 1968 the State of Texas held the first high school basketball playoffs. Then, the Wheatley team defeated the Thomas Jefferson High School team of Dallas, Texas by 85-80 in overtime. Through the win, Wheatley had achieved a 36-0 record.[3] Berryhill said that basketball wins continued "periodically" after desegregation.[5]

Notable alumni[edit]

Feeder patterns[edit]

Elementary schools that feed into Wheatley include:[13]

Middle schools that feed into Wheatley include:

  • McReynolds [31]
  • Fleming (partial) [32]
  • Jackson (partial)[33]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "History." Wheatley High School. March 22, 2003. Retrieved on July 19, 2009.
  2. ^ Jeanette, Texas from the Handbook of Texas Online
  3. ^ a b c d e Berryhill, Michael. "What's Wrong With Wheatley?." Houston Press. April 17, 1997. 2. Retrieved on March 31, 2009.
  4. ^ "School History." E.O. Smith Education Center. Retrieved on November 10, 2010.
  5. ^ a b c Berryhill, Michael. "What's Wrong With Wheatley?." Houston Press. April 17, 1997. 3. Retrieved on March 31, 2009.
  6. ^ Berryhill, Michael. "What's Wrong With Wheatley?." Houston Press. April 17, 1997. 4. Retrieved on March 31, 2009.
  7. ^ Berryhill, Michael. "What's Wrong With Wheatley?." Houston Press. April 17, 1997. 1. Retrieved on March 31, 2009.
  8. ^ [1][dead link]
  9. ^ [2]
  10. ^ a b Radcliffe, Jennifer. "Critics: In HISD, too many don't go where zoned / Black leaders argue bond has no fix to get kids back to schools in their neighborhoods." Houston Chronicle. Sunday October 14, 2007. B1 MetFront.
  11. ^ "Report points to 'dropout factories'." Houston Chronicle, October 31, 2007
  12. ^ "DeVry Advantage Academy and Contemporary Learning Center at H. P. Carter FAQ’s." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on December 2, 2011.
  13. ^ a b "Wheatley High School Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District.
  14. ^ "DOCKET NO. 008-R5-901." Texas Education Agency. Accessed October 13, 2008.
  15. ^ "Wheatley High School Earns Architect a Design Award." Houston Independent School District. August 15, 2008. Retrieved on July 27, 2010.
  16. ^ Connelly, Richard. "The 7 Best-Looking High Schools in Houston." Houston Press. Tuesday May 22, 2012. 1. Retrieved on May 27, 2012.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Distinguished HISD Alumni," Houston Independent School District
  18. ^ "Cliff Johnson Stats". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved December 10, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Dogan Elementary Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on November 24, 2008.
  20. ^ "Eliot Elementary Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on November 24, 2008.
  21. ^ "N. Q. Henderson Elementary Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on November 24, 2008.
  22. ^ "R. Martinez Elementary Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on November 24, 2008.
  23. ^ "Pugh Elementary Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on November 24, 2008.
  24. ^ "Scroggins Elementary Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on November 24, 2008.
  25. ^ "Bruce Elementary Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on November 24, 2008.
  26. ^ "Dodson Elementary Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on November 24, 2008.
  27. ^ "Isaacs Elementary Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on November 24, 2008.
  28. ^ "Ross Elementary Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District.
  29. ^ "Rusk Elementary Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on November 24, 2008.
  30. ^ "Scott Elementary Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on November 24, 2008.
  31. ^ "McReynolds Middle School Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on November 24, 2008.
  32. ^ "Fleming Middle School Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on November 24, 2008.
  33. ^ "Jackson Middle School Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on July 26, 2011.

External links[edit]