J. J. Pearce High School
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|J. J. Pearce High School|
1600 North Coit Road
|Type||High School/secondary school|
|School district||Richardson Independent School District|
|Color(s)||Royal Blue |
J. J. Pearce High School is a high school located in Richardson, Texas, United States. It is named after Joseph Jones Pearce, who served as superintendent for the Richardson Independent School District (RISD) from 1946 to 1977. In 2013, it had an enrollment of 2,167 and a student:teacher ratio of 20:1.
Pearce was established in 1967 with a group of tenth graders housed at Richardson North Junior High School. Prior to 1967, all high school students in the Pearce area attended Richardson High School. In 1969, the school moved to its current home on Coit Road; the campus has been expanded several times since. Along with Berkner High School, it is one of two RISD high schools to have a natatorium.
The racial mix of the neighborhood has remained relatively constant. There are students bussed in from outside neighborhoods, mainly from lower income areas. Many families move to the Pearce area for the high caliber RISD schools. Teachers enjoy working at Pearce, and the school employs a well-qualified staff, including multiple Teacher of the Year recipients. Academic success is the primary emphasis of Pearce, with high levels of parent involvement and relatively high student participation in extra-curricular activities, displaying a proactive community.
In September of 2017, two Pearce students were accused of creating racist memes during the week leading up to the school's annual in-town rivalry football game against Richardson High School. The most controversial meme depicted the Pearce High School logo over KKK members and the Richardson High School logo over a burning cross. Each student served an out of school suspension.
Newsweek ranked Pearce at #528 in the top 1,000 high schools in the nation. Schools were ranked based on the number of students who took Advanced Placement courses and AP tests. Pearce was named a 1988-89 National Blue Ribbon School. In 2009, the state classified 81% of Pearce's graduates as "college ready", or ready to undergo university studies. The State of Texas defined "college readiness" by scores on the ACT and SAT, and in the 11th grade Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) tests. During the same year, the school's student body had 22% poor students, and 27% of its students had a risk of dropping out. Holly K. Hacker of The Dallas Morning News said that the readiness rate was about 20 points higher than statistics would predict, and that the school "far exceeds what is expected."
Pearce High School also has an Academic Decathlon team. The school holds the record for the most national wins in United States Academic Decathlon history, claiming five first place titles and has also succeeded in being in the top ten schools in the state competition since its founding.. They were a recognized school in 2007-2008, also.
The Mock Trial team of Pearce High School is widely respected across the region and remains the most prestigious program in Region 10 history. Since 1979, Pearce High School has won more regional titles than any other team in their district and 4 state titles, tied for second in Texas history.
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Pearce has a choral program. The Acapella Choir was selected as the 2008 TMEA (Texas Music Educators Association) State Honor Choir and performed at the TMEA convention in February in San Antonio, Texas. This is the second time the choir had been selected to perform at TMEA, the time before being 1988. More recently, the entire choral department was invited to perform at the Vatican in Italy. The group performed there in June 2009.
The Pearce band has performed at such prestigious institutions such as Carnegie Hall in New York City and performs in the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas each May. The band has been named the Texas Honor Band twice, once in 1984 in the 5A category and again in 2001 in the 4A category. Pearce is also one of only four schools nationwide to receive the coveted Sudler Flag of Honor twice from the Sousa Foundation. In 2007, as well as 2011, the Pearce "Mighty Mustang Band" was one of twenty 4A Texas high-school bands to advance to the Texas UIL Marching Band Competition in San Antonio. The Pearce band is currently under the direction of Dimitrios Icossipentarhos, Brian Taylor, Brent Smith, and Kevin Kwaku. The current drum majors of the Band are Ruth Ann Sonom, Ellie Repp, Dena Levy, and Landen Bransky.
Lynn Shaw gained fame as Pearce Theater director and teacher for 25 years, having taught Jessica Simpson during the pop singer's days at Pearce. Shaw died of cancer August 7, 2009. In January 2010, a tribute show was held with former students coming back to reprise their roles in various musicals. Proceeds from the show established the Lynn "Zed" Shaw scholarship fund; the first recipients of the scholarship were announced at the show - seniors Avery Hurst and Rachel Moss. ABC's Nightline featured Ms. Shaw and the tribute show in a segment airing April 15, 2010, re-airing December 24, 2010.
The school was one of the 50 high schools/colleges asked by Rodgers & Hammerstein to perform Phantom of the Opera in 2012. The theater also premiered Heathers The Musical (High School Edition) in the fall of 2016 when it was revised for student productions.
The school has had a number of students who have pursued careers in the arts, including the aforementioned Simpson and 2008 graduate Elizabeth Judd, who was cast in the 2010-2011 National Tour of Spring Awakening and in the Broadway production of Hamilton. Actress Amanda Alch also attended J.J. Pearce High School. She portrayed Megan McDurst in the film Bad Kids Go to Hell, based on the comic book of the same name.
Pearce High School has had successful teams in all sports with state championships in team cross country, gymnastics, swimming and diving, tennis, golf, volleyball, and soccer. Individual athletes have succeeded as state champions in track and field, tennis, swimming and diving, gymnastics, and golf. The Pearce girls' varsity soccer team won the 4A state championship in 2009 and 2010. Coach Richard Mungioli's boys' varsity soccer team won the first-ever Texas state soccer championship in 1983. The traditional team sports of football, basketball, volleyball, and baseball/softball have been popular with participation and school support that is within the norm for a suburban public high school. There have been district championships with postseason play in those sports with individual players and coaches honored.
- Jeff Agoos (b. 1968), National Soccer Hall of Fame and World Cup soccer player who won five Major League Soccer championships. Two-time Parade High School All-American and Dallas All-Sports Athlete of the Year.
- Shane Carruth (b. 1972), filmmaker responsible for Primer and Upstream Color.
- Ray Childress (b. 1962), class of 1981, NFL Pro Bowl defensive lineman.
- Corey Coleman (b. 1994), New York Giants wide receiver, 2015 Fred Biletnikoff Award winner.
- Shy Red (b. 1992), class of 2012, Popular Rapper from Clarksdale Mississippi.
- Julie Cypher (b. 1964), class of 1982, motion picture director, ex-wife of actor Lou Diamond Phillips, and ex-partner of singer Melissa Etheridge.
- Anthony Dorsett (b. 1973), class of 1992, son of Hall of Fame running back for the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos, Tony Dorsett. Former defensive back for the Tennessee Titans and Oakland Raiders.
- Asaf Epstein (b. 1978), class of 1996, film director, writer, and producer.
- Lane Garrison (b. 1980), class of 1998, actor on Prison Break.
- Chris Jacke (b. 1966), class of 1984, NFL kicker
- Bavand Karim (b. 1979), class of 1996, film and TV producer.
- Alejandro Moreno (b. 1979), professional soccer player who won three MLS Cups with three different teams, while being capped 41 times at the international level with Venezuela.
- Bryn Neuenschwander (b. 1980), class of 1998, fantasy author.
- Kin Shriner (b 1953), class of 1972, actor best known for his run on soap operas including General Hospital.
- Wil Shriner (b. 1953), class of 1972, television and movie actor.
- Jessica Simpson (b. 1980), recording artist, actress, dropped out of Pearce after her junior year in 1997.
- Scott Turner (b. 1972), class of 1991, NFL defensive back and politician.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-03-07. Retrieved 2010-05-13.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- "2 J.J. Pearce students blamed for racist meme showing football rival burning on a cross". Dallas News. 2017-09-28. Retrieved 2018-01-17.
- Blue Ribbon Schools Program, Schools Recognized 1982-1983 Through 1999-2002 (PDF) Archived 2009-03-26 at the Wayback Machine
- Hacker, Holly K. "Analysis shows true Texas high school performance, stripping away socioeconomic factors." The Dallas Morning News. September 3, 2011. Retrieved on February 10, 2012.
- Vokey 18
- Richardson J.J. Pearce Lady Mustangs - Dallas High School Blog - ESPN Dallas