Hutcheson Junior High celebrates last homecoming before it closes

Hutcheson's last homecoming

May 20, 2015 - Hutcheson Junior High opened its doors to the public Tuesday night to celebrate its legacy and powerful impact on the city of Arlington. The school hosted a program to honor its past and namesake and then welcomed everyone to tour the building.

Originally built as Sam Houston High School in 1963, the school transitioned into Guy C. Hutcheson Junior High in 1970. It will be torn down this summer to make way for a state-of-the-art Career and Technical Center.

But before the building goes down, the AISD welcomed everyone back for one last homecoming. Hundreds of people – most of them alumni of Sam Houston or Hutcheson – poured into the auditorium. The Hutcheson choir kicked off the program by singing the national anthem and then Hutcheson Principal Inelda Acosta, AISD Board President Bowie Hogg and AISD Superintendent Dr. Marcelo Cavazos, spoke of Sam Houston’s and Hutcheson’s legacy, honored the schools’ teachers and described the building that will take its place.

Bowie Hogg also introduced the Hutcheson family in attendance and welcomed Brantley Hightower, one of Guy C. Hutcheson’s four grandsons, to the podium. Hightower detailed how his grandfather had humble beginnings, but then went to Texas A&M and became the radio operator for Admiral Byrd’s scientific expedition to Antarctica in the 1930s. From there he went on to a successful career that included opening his own engineering firm in Arlington and serving two decades on the AISD board. But to Hightower and his family, Guy C. Hutcheson was simply “PaPa,” a “kindly grandfather” and “source of inspiration.”

Jannette Workman then recalled her years at Hutcheson. A Texas history teacher at the junior high from 1970-1996, she spoke fondly of the school’s first principal, Don Carson, and then proudly described how in 1986 she and the seventh-grade class made a tile mosaic that celebrates the Texas sesquicentennial and still hangs at the school’s front entrance. She convinced a company in Fort Worth to donate the tile and used a hammer in her home to smash it all into small pieces. Then each seventh grader helped place all the pieces into the mosaic.

But well before those seventh graders were even born, the school first opened as Sam Houston High School, Arlington’s second high school. Sherry Ferguson, a student in the first class in 1963, recounted those early days. “The Class of 1965 didn't follow traditions, we made traditions,” she said. She went on to tell how her class gave Sam Houston the bell that is still used today at football games and remembered sock hops, the Beatles and the awful day in 1963 when a PA announcement informed the students that President John F. Kennedy had been killed. “This building was only Sam Houston for seven out of the 51 years it has existed,” she concluded, “but it has always been Big Sam to the Class of 1965, and we are sad to see it go.”

The Hutcheson orchestra, spirit squad and band then gave the audience outstanding performances. As the band closed the evening by playing the Hutcheson alma mater, the entire crowd rose to its feet and joined in a cheer for the Chaparrals.

The reception and open house that followed the program proved to be a reunion for many, as old classmates saw each other for the first time in years and remembered old times. Parents showed their kids where they went to school, pointed out classrooms and told them about their teachers and the sports they played. And many took photos as they walked down memory lane.

The AISD understands that Hutcheson’s history is important and needs to be remembered. The school’s memorabilia, including the tile mosaics, will be saved, and a tribute to “Hutch” will be included in the future Career and Technical Center.

For more information:
Watch CBS story: Students and staff hold 'final homecoming' before school demolition
Career and Technical Center overview
Watch a video of the Career and Technical Center's exterior schematic design