While the early pioneering days of McKinney were tough and often dangerous, many settlers arrived from the east with a surprising amount of formal education. From the city’s earliest days, the ideals of academic learning and organized schooling were important. McKinney’s school records go back to 1854, just six years after McKinney itself was founded. In 1858, Judge R.L. Waddill built a cabin on his property to serve as a schoolhouse, and since then there has been organized schooling in McKinney.

McKinney established its high school curriculum relatively early and its history is interesting and worthy of note.

Early Days

McKinney’s pioneering years – which essentially came to an end in 1872 when the Houston and Texas Central Railroad reached the city – typically saw children receiving anywhere from three to eight years of education. A school board with formalized high school requirements was established in 1883, and in 1889 McKinney proudly oversaw commencement ceremonies of its first high school class, which totaled four graduates. All were women.

The McKinney High School building that served the city until 1915, when it was replaced by Boyd High School.

The McKinney High School building that served the city until 1915, when it was replaced by Boyd High School.

 

In the early 20th century there were very few activities that would be considered “extracurricular,” but, true to Texas form, one of them was football. Kirkpatrick was McKinney High School’s (MHS) turn-of-the-century coach, who’d played at George Washington University outside of St. Louis. From the moment he joined the faculty, things heated up. In 1904, the football team was credited with the first forward pass ever made in Texas high school football, which went for a 40-yard completion. (Until that time, quarterbacks mainly handed the ball off or made lateral tosses.) In the same year, MHS became the first to add a play called “The Statue of Liberty,” essentially a fake pass with a quick handoff to a running back.

 

 

As the number of students grew – there were 37 graduates in 1914 – the old building, which had been built just before the turn of the century at the intersection of Louisiana and Church streets, was suffering the effects of wear and tear. MHS was poised to grow yet further as the city became an outlying suburb of Dallas. In 1908, the Texas Electric Railroad made McKinney a commuter city, and within five years it was clear a new high school building would have to constructed – and soon.

Big Building, Big Changes

The 1925 McKinney High School football team. Their uniforms were purchased by the newly-formed McKinney Lions Club. In gratitude, the school changed its mascot from the Bison to the Lion.

The 1925 McKinney High School football team. Their uniforms were purchased by the newly-formed McKinney Lions Club. In gratitude, the school changed its mascot from the Bison to the Lion.

 

In 1913, the City held a bond election to ask voters for $50,000 to build a new high school with updated amenities and enough room to accommodate the burgeoning population. It was a lot of money for the time but voters approved and construction began in early 1914. Later that fall, the district found itself short of final funding when a generous donor, Mary Elizabeth Crane Boyd, stepped in to help. She was the widow of a wealthy stockholder, W.L. Boyd, and was widely known for her generosity. She donated the needed $3,000 and in gratitude for her generous gift the school board voted unanimously to name the building after her. (Upon her death she left $20,000 to be used to help McKinney students attend college; it is now worth $500,000 and continues to assist college-bound students.)

This aspect of school names gets a little tricky here. Many have heard that the current Boyd High School, which opened in 2006, was named in tribute to the first Boyd High School. This is true, but, interestingly, it was the building itself that was named for its benefactor. It is for this reason that most written references – such as diplomas and invitations to commencement exercises – were written using the “McKinney High School” name, while the location for events would be (for example) Boyd Auditorium, etc. Students of the day referred to the building as Boyd High School, too, even though the institution was documented as “McKinney High School.”

First band/orchestra of McKinney High School. 1915 was a big year in McKinney. The new Boyd High School building opened and a number of academic and extracurricular organizations were first formed.

First band/orchestra of McKinney High School. 1915 was a big year in McKinney. The new Boyd High School building opened and a number of academic and extracurricular organizations were first formed.

 

That first year of high school in the new Boyd High School building – 1915 – was a big one. This was the year the school organized its first student council, first band, first choir, first German Club and first volleyball team. It was the first year that girls could earn a letter for athletics, and it marked the first time an area track meet was held in McKinney.

The magnificent Boyd High School building served as home to the city’s high school until 1959. In that year the building was judged unfit and a new high school facility was built a few miles northwest. (The building today is home to Faubion Middle School.)

 

 

Doty High School

An important thing that mustn’t be forgotten was that MHS was NOT the only high school in McKinney through all these years. In the age of segregation and so-called “separate but equal” education, McKinney had its own institution for African-American students. From the late 1800s, it was called the Frederick Douglass School after the great reformer and statesman. In 1940 the new Doty High School opened, named in honor of Principal E.S. Doty, who served in that role for over 50 years.

A photo of the faculty at Doty High School from the late 1950s or early 1960s.

A photo of the faculty at Doty High School from the late 1950s or early 1960s.

 

In 1963, McKinney’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously to close Doty High School, integrate McKinney schools, and move its high school students to MHS in 1965. Along with concerns about whether African-American students would be accepted by white students and faculty, many were also concerned about whether the students would be academically prepared for the rigors they’d face at MHS.

As it turned out, the worry was unfounded. Doty had outstanding teachers and the students likewise took their responsibilities seriously. In fact, at Doty the “no pass-no play” concept was already a practice decades before it became the rule at other schools. To prepare the students for integration, its faculty counseled students. At an event held in early 2014 to remember Doty HS and the early days of integration, former faculty member Jesse McGowen said: “We basically just talked to them, told them it was something that’s coming, it’s gonna have to be done, and so get your minds ready for the change ... just be the kind of students you were at Doty. Go over there and study hard and work hard.”

Dorothy Shaw, a student at the time, remembers her teachers telling her, “You can be what you want to be.” Her mother told her, “Be ready, do your work, and treat people as you want to be treated.”

All of this was golden advice, and the Doty teachers and students deserve to be remembered and celebrated for the job they did. Shaw recalled overhearing one of her teachers, Iola Malvern, speaking to another teacher shortly before integration, saying, “I’m not worried about this class ... they’re prepared.” And she was right.

Many Doty High School students went on to become leaders in the community, and a number of graduates – some of whom taught at Doty – later became faculty members of McKinney’s school district and served with distinction. Four of them – Leonard Evans, Reuben Johnson, Iola Davis Malvern and Jesse McGowen – today have schools named in tribute to their work.

 

 

Contemporary High Schools

Today, in an era of unprecedented growth, three high schools serve the District: McKinney High School, McKinney North High School and McKinney Boyd High School.

The Class of 1961 commissioned a hand-chiseled statue from Italy to serve as a permanent mascot for MHS. It arrived in the fall of 1964 and became an immediate treasure. For years, sports teams making their way to state playoffs would rub

The Class of 1961 commissioned a hand-chiseled statue from Italy to serve as a permanent mascot for MHS. It arrived in the fall of 1964 and became an immediate treasure. For years, sports teams making their way to state playoffs would rub "Leo" for good luck. When the current McKinney High School was built in 1986, Leo was placed high atop a trophy case and rendered inaccessible. Last year he was returned to his rightful place in the foyer and the half-century-old tradition has been renewed.

 

In 1959, the original Boyd High School building was closed and a new school was constructed to house MHS. This remained the home of MHS for 27 years until the current building on Wilson Creek Parkway was opened in 1986. MHS underwent extensive renovation in 2013 and continues to serve over 2,000 students.

In 2000, the District opened its second high school, McKinney North High School (MNHS). It currently serves approximately 2,000 students. Despite the school’s short history, it has managed to achieve notable success both academically and in extracurricular activities. In 2006, the MNHS Ladydogs won the Texas state championship in soccer, and its tennis team has been ranked in the state’s top 25 every year since the school has opened. It also has a very successful football program, making it to the playoffs several times.

The District opened its third high school, McKinney Boyd High School (MBHS), in 2006, naming it after Boyd High School that served the district from 1915 to 1959. The school’s expansive campus on Lake Forest Drive is home to approximately 3,000 students and likewise has had notable academic and extracurricular success, including state championships in girls soccer.

High schools in McKinney, and especially that of its original school, McKinney High School, have a long and storied tradition. By understanding where McKinney’s schools came from – through adversity and success alike – the community can better appreciate what has been achieved and, just as importantly, what it can expect to see in the future.

 

About the author: Christopher Foster is a writer and photographer who lives in McKinney.

 

About McKinney ISD

One of the fastest growing school districts in Texas, the McKinney Independent School District currently enrolls more than 24,750 students in 20 elementary schools, five middle schools, three high schools, four alternative schools and one early childhood education school. The mission of McKinney ISD, the champion for progressive learning throughout the diverse McKinney community, is to inspire and equip all students to explore, develop and express their unique potential as innovators, critical thinkers and collaborators through challenging, engaging and diverse learning experiences in vital partnership with the community. Visit the district's website at mckinneyisd.net.