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The History And the Vision

On January 31, 1927, Phillis Wheatley High School was established in the old McGowan Elementary School Building at 3415 Lyons Avenue. Mr. E. O. Smith was named the first principal. He and a faculty of nineteen teachers enrolled a total of 480 students during that year. faculty and students organized service and social clubs and other activities needed to enhance the school program. These included the Parent Teachers Association, the Megaphone, and the school paper.

Each year continued to produce its share of improvements, expansions, and adjustments. In 1928, the lyrics and music of the school song were composed by Mrs. Ilma L. Smith and Mrs. Mattie Overton Roberts; the Student Concil and Beau Brummels were organized; Wheatley fielded its first championship track team and organized a band; Wheatley’s Lovable Troubadours came into existence and the first " Miss Wheatley’ was presented; the school won District and State Football honors in 1936. The Traffic Patrol and Wheatley’s Honor Society were structured in 1937. The E.O. Smith Brigadiers and Drum and Bugle Corps made their debut in 1941, the formidable Forensic Society was organized and Interscholastic League sports for girls were strated in 1949. Wheatley moved to its present location in 1950, and the first R.O.T.C. unit was highlighted in 1954.

In its seventy-five year history, Phillis has had ten principals: Messrs E.O. Smith, John E. Codwell, William Moore, A.C. Herald, Charles Herbert, Forest T. Henry, Eddie Orum, Harold Crawford, Horace Williams and Bruce Goffney. Two of them--Charles Herbert and Forest T. Henry--are Wheatley alumni.

In January of 1997, Phillis Wheatley senior High marked its fiftieth year of service to the community. Because of the many contributions of its graduates and students to the world and because of the desire for massive involvement in the commemoration of its years of service, celebrations began in November of 1976 and continued through November of 1977.

Wheatley has produced many illustrious graduates. They are making outstanding contributions to society through their endeavors in education, sports, law, music, architecture, medicine, engineering, industry, business, military service, and national, state and local politics. Our most recent bragging right comes from the appointment of Ruth Stubblefield Simmons as the president of Smith College, one of the elite Seven Sister schools. Ms. Simmons graduated from Phillis Wheatley with the class of 1963.

The history that is Wheatley’s has provided for the vision of the school as it keeps its commitment to excellence as we move into the twenty first century. It is in keeping with this tradition that we hope to re-ignite the joys of learning and the desire for success, both academically and professionally. With these fundamental goals as out foundation, we will strive to carry forth this vision of light.

E-mail the webmaster at kbobbitt@houstonisd.org.