The look of McKinney High School may have changed, but the school remains firmly rooted in the history and traditions that have carried it through more than a century of public education.
On Sunday afternoon, MHS paid homage to the past while looking toward the future as they publicly unveiled their newly renovated campus during a special open house called the McKinney High School Mane Event. It was a celebration of old traditions and the unfolding of a new era for the campus which this year completed extensive renovations and additions funded by a 2011 bond project.
As visitors passed through the expansive main entry corridor, most paused to take in the multiple display cases overflowing with photos and memorabilia collected to document the history and traditions of McKinney’s first high school—which will celebrate its 125th anniversary next year.
Distinguished guests U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson, State Sen. Ken Paxton and State Rep. Scott Sanford staff member Meg Pulley joined MISD Superintendent Dr. J.D. Kennedy, MHS Principal Dr. Logan Faris and the MISD Board of Trustees for a program that featured band, choir and drill team performances, speeches, a ribbon cutting ceremony and a rendition of the Doty High School school song performed by Doty alumni (who included MISD school namesakes Leonard Evans, Jessie McGowen and Iola Malvern).
“The McKinney High School Mane Event was designed to offer the community a personal introduction to the new McKinney High School,” Faris said. “The renovations over the past few years have transformed MHS into a modern and welcoming place for our students and teachers to learn. We are looking forward to exciting days ahead, and we realize that ‘The Road to Success is always under Construction.’”
The makeover expanded not only the physical capacity of MHS to 570,000 square feet, making it capable of accommodating up to 3,000 students, but also expanded the learning capacity of the school with state of the art upgrades and additional space for the media center, fine arts spaces, career and technology labs—including construction management, cosmetology, agricultural science, aviation and engineering classrooms—plus a criminal justice courtroom among other additions.
For many visitors on Sunday, touring the halls of the “new” MHS evoked poignant memories of the years they spent at the school.
Marcus and Mandy Bourland, both MHS class of ’94 and both currently serving as MISD campus administrators, met and began dating while they were students at MHS.
“Seeing all of this is really great,” said Marcus, who is a third generation MHS alumnus. “It’s also great to see that they left [the dining area wall] which was here when we were here. And we can still see the places that we would meet after classes. And, the class where we first met, we actually had dinner there on our anniversary a couple of years ago. But, it looks great. [I appreciate] having the opportunity to see the add ons which are done very, very well. Seeing them tie in the history is really cool.”
The Bourlands also pointed out that their graduating class generated three current MISD campus administrators in addition to themselves: Inetra Nelson, Sarah Teasdale and Dr. Danny Ledbetter.
Jay Bartholomew, class of ’88, started his high school career at MHS when it was located in what is now the Central Administration Building before it was moved to its current location in 1986. “Everything’s kind of changed a bit,” he said, “but you can still see the shadows of the old stuff, and it’s just really neat to see.”
Of the modern upgrade, Bartholomew said, “I think the most impressive thing is the specialized classes seem more like a college campus than a high school campus—very different, definitely from when I went here.” He is pleased that his daughter will be starting high school at MHS in the fall.
Courtney Harker graduated in 1996. “It’s amazing. It is beautiful and amazing. It was probably due an update, and they have exceeded what I thought it would be.”
Jesse McGowen has seen a lot of change throughout his years as a student and then later as a teacher and coach at Doty High School. He went on to serve in MISD for many years as a teacher, coach and counselor, and McGowen Elementary School bears his name. He points out that one thing has always remained steadfast in MISD and at MHS: a firm commitment to tradition.
“The progress is tremendous because I was here in the original building,” McGowen said. “In fact, when the building was built, I was one of the counselors who moved over from the old McKinney High School to it. And just to see this now...you know, it’s just magnificent. It’s just amazing. With the renovations and everything, it doesn’t look like the same building.
“And McKinney High School has a great tradition. It’s always had a great tradition, and I just hope and pray that it will always keep the traditions because it has always put its emphasis on education, on academics. The other things came second, but education was the primary focus.
“I just thank God that I’m still around to be able to do this,” he added with a laugh.