Yates High School

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Yates High School
Yates CIMG1903.JPG
3703 Sampson Street
Houston, Texas, 77004
United States
School type Public
Established February 17, 1926 (1926-02-17)
School district Houston Independent School District
Principal Marla J. Sheppard
Grades 9-12
Language English
Color(s) Gold and Crimson          
Nickname "Tha Yard"
Team name Lions

Jack Yates Senior High School is a secondary school located at 3703 Sampson, very near Texas Southern University, in the Third Ward in Houston, Texas, USA. Yates High School handles grades nine through twelve and is part of the Houston Independent School District (HISD).

Yates was named after Reverend John Henry "Jack" Yates, a former slave and a minister.[1] Jack Yates and other leading blacks established the Houston Baptist Academy. Within a decade, the success of the school prompted Reverend Yates to reorganize the Houston Baptist Academy as the Houston College, the school offered a special opportunity to the black children of the community who sought an alternative to the Colored High School of the public school system.

Yates has HISD's magnet program for communications: Broadcast TV, Radio, Print, and Photography. Eye on the Third Ward [1], a collection of works made by Yates students, was posted in the Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH).

Paul Knight of the Houston Press wrote that "the school remains a symbol of solidarity in the Third Ward."[2]



The Baylor College of Medicine Academy at Ryan (formerly Ryan Middle School) exists at the first location of Yates Colored High School
A sign commemorating the school.

Yates was established on February 8, 1926, as Yates Colored High School with 17 teachers and 600 students. The school, at 2610 Elgin, was the second school for African-Americans established in Houston.[3]

Previously Houston had only one secondary school for black people, Colored High School. In 1925 the school board stated that it would build a new black high school due to the increasing black population. The Houston Informer stated that the schools need to be named after prominent black people from the city and/or other successful black persons. The new high school was to be named after Jack Yates, a prominent black Houstonian, and the original colored high school was renamed Booker T. Washington High School.[4]

The original Yates High was built from a $4 million (about $53973434.54 when accounting for inflation) bond program, which included $500,000 (about $6746679.32 when accounting for inflation) to renovate 17 existing schools and build new schools. Clifton Richardson, the editor of the Houston Informer, had felt skepticism towards this proposal but ultimately asked Houston's African-Americans to vote for the bond and endorsed it in the Informer. In 1925 HISD originally proposed to have the school build for $100,000 (about $13493358.63 when accounting for inflation), but Richardson opposed this plan, prompting the district to revise the bond.[5] The first principal, James D. Ryan, served from the opening until his death in 1941;[3] William S. Holland became Yates's second principal that year.[6]

In 1927 the Yates building began housing Houston Colored Junior College, later Houston College for Negroes.[5]

In pre-desegregation times middle and upper class black families sent their children to Yates.[7]

By February 1951 Yates had 2,100 students. By that month Jack Yates had an addition that slightly increased student capacity and a remodeling, but the school was still overcrowded as the enlarged facility was designed for 1,600 students. By March 1954 the student body was over 3,000.[8] As a result of the overcrowding the Southern Association of Secondary Schools pulled Yates's accreditation.[9]

In 1955, as a new Allen Elementary School opened in a neighborhood far from its original location, the former Allen campus, in what is now Midtown, became the Yates Annex, a school for black 7th graders. In 1956, the annex was converted into J. Will Jones Elementary School.[10][11]

On January 27, 1958, Worthing High School opened, relieving Yates.[12] Yates moved to its current location in September 1958. Yates's former site became Ryan Colored Junior High School (now Ryan Middle School), named after the first principal of Yates.[3] The HISD school board forced Holland to stay at Ryan Middle School instead of moving onto the new Yates, and a petition from the community did not succeed in changing this.[13]

Schools in HISD were named after former principals William S. Holland and James E. Codwell.[3]


After desegregation resulting from the African-American Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s, HISD had established magnet programs and other alternative education programs.[2] Many upper and middle class blacks sent their children to Bellaire High School, Lamar High School, and other schools previously only for Whites.[7] In addition, many black people moved from the Third Ward to the suburbs.[2] Violence became more common and the facility was defaced with graffiti. William G. Ouchi, author of Making Schools Work: A Revolutionary Plan to Get Your Children the Education They Need, wrote that due to the loss of the middle and upper class students, Yates "fell on hard times."[7]

The Yates photography magnet school program began in fall 1978.[3]

In 1987 a survey at Yates showed that 108 female students were pregnant and 50% of them were having their second pregnancies. In 1989 Chester Smith, the principal, prohibited the school newspaper from publishing a story about a pregnant student.[14]

In the 1990s superintendent Rod Paige recruited Robert Worthy, who was previously teaching in the Pasadena Independent School District, to revitalize the school. Worthy removed most of the administrators and 60 teachers, making up about half of the faculty, within a two-year period to remove any pre-existing negative cultural influences from Yates. Worthy also established additional Advanced Placement courses and removed a Cleaning and Pressing Program.[7]

In 1997 a geographic area south of Interstate 45 was rezoned from Austin High School to Yates.[15] After the 2000 opening of Chávez High School,[16] portions of the Yates boundary were reassigned to Austin High School.[17]

From 1998 through 2002 the school reported that 99% of students graduating from Yates planned to attend colleges and universities. In response a parent and alumnus of Yates quoted in a 2003 The New York Times article, Larry Blackmon, stated that "Absolutely, positively, no way. You'd get more of an accurate count asking elementary kids if they plan to go to college."[18]

Circa 2003 the principal of Yates hired several uncertified teachers and substitute teachers, using them to replace experienced but more highly paid teachers who were fired bu the principal. In addition around that time Yates had gone without a school library for over a year.[18]

In 2006, Houston mayor Bill White proclaimed February 7 as "Jack Yates Senior High School Day."[19]

In 2007, a Johns Hopkins University study commissioned by the Associated Press cited Yates as a "dropout factory" where at least 40% of the entering freshman class do not make it to their senior year.[20]

In 2008 Ouchi stated that Yates had improved during Worthy's term as principal, citing the "pride" present in the school, the students' compliance with the school uniform policy, and hallways that were "clean enough to eat on".[7]

Yates, along with Sam Houston High School and Kashmere High School, was low-performing in test scores from 2001 to 2004. Because of this problem, there were movements to have the state or another organization take over the schools for a period so the test scores would be at acceptable levels. Yates received an "acceptable" rating from the Texas Education Agency in 2005.[citation needed]

In a 2005 Houston Chronicle article Bill Miller, president of the Yates High School Parent-Teacher-Student Association, criticized the decrease in enrollment. Many students in the Yates High School attendance zone instead chose to attend other high schools. Miller proposed having HISD end its open enrollment policies.[21]

In an e-mail sent in 2010, HISD board member and former Yates student Paula Harris said that she was responsible for having a principal at Yates removed from the school and for having the new principal installed.[22]

In June 2015 Ericka Mellon of the Houston Chronicle wrote that members of the Third Ward community had "concerns about leadership turnover, weak academic performance and safety problems" and were "vocal with its frustrations at Yates".[23]

In May 2015 Donetrus Hill, then the principal of Yates, resigned and took a settlement agreement. Kenneth Davis, who previously served as the principal of Dowling Middle School and as a supervisor of HISD middle school principals, became the principal of Yates at that time.[23]

In September 2015 the district said that it will demolish the old Yates and build a new school in its place. Some Yates alumni protested, accusing HISD of planning to close Yates permanently.[24]

Neighborhoods served by Yates[edit]

Several areas inside the 610 Loop that are south of Downtown, including the Third Ward, Timbercrest, University Oaks,[25] Oak Manor, University Woods, Scott Terrace, Lucky 7, South Union, Foster Place, Washington Terrace,[26] MacGregor Place, and LaSalette Place, as well as most of Riverside Terrace, are zoned to Yates.[27]

Cuney Homes [2], a unit of public housing, is zoned to Yates.

In addition Cambridge Oaks, a university housing complex, is zoned to Yates. Cambridge Oaks, the designated family housing complex, is served by the Houston Independent School District.[28] Cambridge Oaks houses University of Houston students and is the institution's designated family housing unit.[29]


In 2012 Richard Connelly of the Houston Press ranked Yates as the second most architecturally beautiful high school campus in Greater Houston. Connelly said that "Some would call this generic, but we like the proud `60s style.".[30] The campus is located between Texas Southern University and the University of Houston.


In 2010 the school had about 1,200 students. Most of them were African-American. Of the remainder, 88 were Hispanic, 7 were Asian, and 3 were White.[2]

Yates had 3,600 students in the mid-1980s.[2]

School uniform[edit]

Students at Yates are required to wear a school uniform.[31] 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.[32]

Extracurricular activities[edit]


Jack Yates competes in several sports, but the most prominent and successful sport on campus is boys' basketball.[citation needed]} In 1994 Andrew W. Miracle, the author of Lessons of the Locker Room: The Myth of School Sports, wrote that the athletics programs at Yates High School have the same kind of important in the Third Ward as the athletics programs at rural Texas high schools do for their respective small town and rural communities.[33]

In the segregation era Yates did not play games against white high schools.[8] It was a part of the Prairie View Interscholastic League, an all-black sports league, from 1940 until 1968. In 1969 the Prairie View League was dissolved and Yates joined the University Interscholastic League (UIL).[34]

In February 2012 Yates was reclassified as a UIL 3A school, down from the 4A level.[35]


In 2010 Paul Knight of the Houston Press stated "no high school basketball team in the state and perhaps the country has played better than Yates."[36] As of 2010, only two of the players on the basketball team were not from the Third Ward.[2]

In March 2010, Yates' boys basketball team was ranked number one in the nation by USA Today having defeated their opponents by margins of 135, 115, 99 (twice), 98, 90 and 88 points. On January 6, 2010, the basketball team defeated Class 4A District 21 opponent Lee High School 170-35, setting the state record for points in a game and sparking a debate in the process. Despite a 100-12 halftime lead, the Lions stayed true to their pressing and trapping style, which did not sit well with Lee head coach Jacques Armant.[citation needed]

Jacques Armant, the basketball coach at Lee High, criticized the mass scoring, saying that it could cause violence. EPSN sports columnist Rick Reilly criticized Yates basketball Coach Greg Wise and stated "At the very least, USA Today ought to remove Yates from its national rankings -- the school is No. 1 -- as a statement about basic sports decency."[37]

As of 2015, Jack Yates boys' basketball program has won four state titles since the 2009 season.[citation needed]

American football[edit]

As of circa 1994 the head football coach of Yates stated that "You cannot deny that football affects the community in a big way."[33]

In the segregation era schools for blacks played their games on weekdays while schools for whites played their games on Fridays.[8]

In 1939 Yates coach Andrew "Pat" Patterson asked principal William S. Holland to meet with E. B. Evans, the president of Prairie View A&M University, to discuss regulating American football played by black schools and establishing a football league for them. The Prairie View Leagues established a football league in 1940 and Yates was in this league until 1968.[38] Rick Sherrod, author of Texas High School Football Dynasties, described Patterson as the "architect" of the PVIL football league.[34]

Historically the American football game between Yates and Wheatley High School was among the most prominent ones in the United States.[8] Beginning in 1927,[39] each Thanksgiving Day the school's American football team played Yates High School's football team at the Jeppeson Stadium.[40] The Yates-Wheatley Thanksgiving football match, described by On American Soil: How Justice Became a Casualty of World War II author Jack Hamann as "the most important noncollege football game in the country", often had crowds that had over 30,000 people.[41] The rivalry declined after Yates joined the UIL, and after the football leagues integrated the Thanksgiving Day Yates-Wheatley game ended.[42]

Coach Patterson, while in the PVIL league, had a 73.2% win record, 200-64-9, and his team received four state titles from PVIL.[34]

Yates lost to Lake Highlands High School in the 1981 Texas state American football championship game. The principal of Yates stated that a "positive atmosphere" occurred in the Third Ward despite the loss since Yates had gotten to the championships.[33]

Yates won the 1985 Texas 5-A American football championship game at Texas Stadium in Irving, defeating the Odessa Permian High School.[33]

Feeder patterns[edit]

Elementary schools that feed into Yates[27] include:


Portions of Cullen Middle School, including portions formerly zoned to Ryan Middle School, feed into Yates.[54][55]

Notable alumni[edit]


See also[edit]


Reference notes[edit]

  1. ^ "YATES, JOHN HENRY." Handbook of Texas Online.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Knight, Paul. "Third Ward High." Houston Press. Wednesday April 7, 2010. p. 2. Retrieved on April 2, 2014. "All but two of the Yates players grew up in the Third Ward."
  3. ^ a b c d e "About" (Archive). Jack Yates High School. Accessed October 20, 2008
  4. ^ Steptoe, Tyina Leaneice. Dixie West: Race, Migration, and the Color Lines in Jim Crow Houston. ProQuest, 2008. ISBN 0549635874, 9780549635871. p. 211.
  5. ^ a b Kellar, p. 31 (Google Books PT12).
  6. ^ Harwell, p. 9.
  7. ^ a b c d e Ouchi, p. 108.
  8. ^ a b c d Kellar, p. 33 (Google Books PT14).
  9. ^ Kellar, p. 33-34 (Google Books PT14-15).
  10. ^ "History." J. Will Jones Elementary School. September 15, 2004. Retrieved on April 5, 2009.
  11. ^ "Land Use & Development Map." Midtown. Retrieved on April 4, 2009.
  12. ^ "Our History." Worthing High School. Retrieved on August 30, 2010.
  13. ^ Harwell, p. 12-13.
  14. ^ Greene, Andrea D. "Teen-age pregnancies: two success stories/HISD `could do better' to aid teens."[dead link] Houston Chronicle. C1. Retrieved on December 8, 2011. Available from NewsBank with a Houston Public Library card.
  15. ^ "1996-1997 HISD ATTENDANCE BOUNDARIES," Houston Independent School District. June 30, 1997. Retrieved on December 13, 2010. "Redirect students south of the Gulf Freeway from Austin HS to Yates HS "
  16. ^ "High Schools." Houston Independent School District. April 13, 2002. Retrieved on May 6, 2009.
  17. ^ "Austin High School Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on December 13, 2010.
  18. ^ a b Schemo, Diana Jean. "For Houston Schools, College Claims Exceed Reality" (Archive). The New York Times. August 28, 2003. Retrieved on November 2, 2015.
  19. ^ "City of Houston Declares High School’s 80th Anniversary “Yates Day”." Houston Independent School District.
  20. ^ Scharrer, Gary. "Report points to 'dropout factories'." Houston Chronicle. November 7, 2007. Retrieved on May 3, 2009.
  21. ^ Spencer, Jason." Transfer policy hinders schools / `Talent drain' makes it hard for some campuses to meet standards" (Archive). Houston Chronicle. Sunday September 4, 2005. B1 MetFront. Retrieved on May 3, 2009.
  22. ^ "Houston ISD board president involved in Yates principal choices, emails show." Houston Community Newspapers. Monday October 24, 2011. Retrieved on November 5, 2011.
  23. ^ a b Mellon, Ericka. "HISD names Yates, Sterling, Westbury High principals" (Archive). Houston Chronicle. June 5, 2015. Retrieved on November 20, 2015.
  24. ^ "Former students fight Yates High School demolition" (Archive). KHOU-TV. September 9, 2015. Retrieved on November 21, 2015.
  25. ^ "University Oaks." Harris County. Retrieved on April 5, 2009.
  26. ^ Map. Washington Terrace Civic Association. Retrieved on November 23, 2008.
  27. ^ a b "Yates High School Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District.
  28. ^ "how to contact us." Cambridge Oaks. Retrieved on August 15, 2011. "Village address Cambridge Oaks 4444 Cullen Boulevard Houston, TX 77004"
  29. ^ "On-Campus Housing and Communities." University of Houston. Retrieved on August 15, 2011. "Housing Campus Map"
  30. ^ Connelly, Richard. "The 7 Best-Looking High Schools in Houston." Houston Press. Tuesday May 22, 2012. 2. Retrieved on May 27, 2012.
  31. ^ "2011-2012 Uniform Dress Code." Yates High School. Retrieved on August 15, 2011.
  32. ^ "DOCKET NO. 008-R5-901." Texas Education Agency. Accessed October 13, 2008.
  33. ^ a b c d Miracle, Andrew W. Lessons of the Locker Room: The Myth of School Sports. Prometheus Books, 1994. ISBN 1615925147, 9781615925148. p. 190.
  34. ^ a b c Sherrod, Rick. Texas High School Football Dynasties (Sports History Series). The History Press, 2013. ISBN 1609496124, 9781609496128. p. 72.
  35. ^ Verdejo, Angel. "4A powers La Marque, Yates drop to 3A in new district realignment." Houston Chronicle. February 2, 2012. Retrieved on February 2, 2012.
  36. ^ Knight, Paul. "Third Ward High." Houston Press. Wednesday April 7, 2010. p. 1. Retrieved on April 2, 2014.
  37. ^ Riley, Rick (2010-03-10). "Someone stop this man: Greg Wise of Yates High in Houston is famous for running up the score". ESPN The Magazine. ESPN. Retrieved 2010-03-12.  (Archive)
  38. ^ Sherrod, Rick. Texas High School Football Dynasties (Sports History Series). The History Press, 2013. ISBN 1609496124, 9781609496128. p. 72-73.
  39. ^ Harwell, p. 12.
  40. ^ Berryhill, Michael. "What's Wrong With Wheatley?" Houston Press. April 17, 1997. Retrieved on March 31, 2009.
  41. ^ Hamann, Jack. On American Soil: How Justice Became a Casualty of World War II. Algonquin Books, 2005. ISBN 1565123948, 9781565123946. p. 192.
  42. ^ Harwell, p. 13.
  43. ^ "Foster Elementary Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on May 3, 2009.
  44. ^ "Hartsfield Elementary Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on May 3, 2009.
  45. ^ "Lockhart Elementary Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on May 3, 2009.
  46. ^ "MacArthur Elementary Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on May 3, 2009.
  47. ^ "HISD PROPOSED ATTENDANCE BOUNDARIES FOR BLACKSHEAR, JW JONES, & GREGORY LINCOLN ES." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on August 19, 2009.
  48. ^ "Dodson Elementary Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on May 3, 2009.
  49. ^ "J. P. Henderson Elementary Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on May 3, 2009.
  50. ^ "Kelso Elementary Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on May 3, 2009.
  51. ^ "Peck Elementary Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on May 3, 2009.
  52. ^ "Thompson Elementary Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on May 3, 2009.
  53. ^ "Whidby Elementary Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on May 3, 2009.
  54. ^ "Cullen Middle Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on May 3, 2009.
  55. ^ "Ryan Middle Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on May 3, 2009.
  56. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Distinguished HISD Alumni," Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on January 20, 2009
  57. ^ Steve Henderson Statistics and History. Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved February 19, 2014.
  58. ^ "CNN's Martin to be honored". 
  59. ^ http://blogs.houstonpress.com/rocks/2007/10/big_moe_rip.php
  60. ^ http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/P/PattEl21.htm
  61. ^ "Phylicia Rashad Interview - Part 1 of 5". American Archive of Television. Retrieved 30 April 2010. 
  62. ^ Guerra, Joey. "Singer Robyn Troup's dreams look poised to be realized." Houston Chronicle. September 26, 2010. Retrieved on September 26, 2010.
  63. ^ Khan, Sam Jr. "A state title would complete Yates' return to basketball excellence / LIONS' ROAR RESTORED." Houston Chronicle. Friday February 22, 2008. Sports 1. Retrieved on May 3, 2009.
  64. ^ "Michael Young". Houston Cougars athletics. Retrieved 2009-10-22. 

External links[edit]