Minden (Louisiana) High School

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Minden High School is the public secondary educational institution in Minden, Louisiana, a small city of 13,000 in Webster Parish east of Shreveport . MHS houses grades nine through twelve (and a small number of eighth graders) but originally handled grades one through eleven prior to the establishment of the twelfth grade.

In 1838, Minden received one of the first charters for a public school from the Louisiana legislature. Though the school charged tuition, it was open to all white children. Alexander Banks George for a time was the principal, of the new public school and of the Minden Female College, both of which operated into the late 1890s. The current Minden High School is located on College Street, a few blocks from the downtowy. In 1897, the Webster Parish School Board voted to establish a central high school in Minden. The trustees of the already existing Minden Normal and Business College offered a building. In 1900, the reconfigured Minden High School had two graduates, Dora Dupuy and Theressa Grigsby. These two young women began high school when the school was established in 1897. The commencement program of that graduation still exists. In 1901, the first year of its existence as a high school, MHS graduated one senior, Harry Crichton. Since that time, more than seven thousand have received diplomas from the institution. From 1913 to 1917, the principal was John Barnard Snell (1884–1959), husband of short story author Ada Jack Carver Snell and the father of David Snell, journalist and cartoonists with the since defunct Life Magazine. Snell left the position for military service in World War I. On his return, he operated a successful cotton gin.

Robert T. Tobin, the interim African-American mayor of Minden in 1989, was the Webster High School principal for many years. In 1974, Webster High was blended into the desegregated Minden High School. As a result of the consolidation, the MHS Class of 1975, with 248 graduates, became the largest in school history. Other high schools were established in the Webster Parish communities of Dubberly, Heflin, Sibley, Doyline, Shongaloo, Sarepta, Cotton Valley, and Springhill.

Construction: 1924, 1954, 2007

On February 13, 1923, a fire swept through the Minden High School auditorium during the performance of a Mardi Gras play, and three students, Dorothy Cheshire, Eugenie Burt, and Mabel Hickman, and a fourth casualty, a young child, Eva Evelyn Lowe, died from burns. The blaze developed when the dress of another girl caught fire from a sparkler used to enhance a snow scene. The youngsters ran into the street through a nearby exit while in a state of panic. Four other girls were severely burned as well.

In 1924, a new two-story brick MHS building was located on College Street. It was used as the principal school facility until 1954, when a new brick structure opened tadjacent of the existing building. The 1954 two-story building cost $590,000 plus another $50,000 for furnisings for twenty-one regular classrooms, laboratories, and two faculty lounges. The construction was undertaken by Southern Builders of Shreveport. Then in August 2007, a fully renovatedand greatly expanded high school building opened to replace the 1954 structure.

The new three-story structure has air-conditioning throughout, a new gymnasium, computer services center, and a cafeteria. After several defeats at the polls, including the rejection of a proposed new campus near Interstate 20, community and business leaders pushed through a $33 million tax package in an election held in January 2004. The renovations replaced the older Minden High and Webster Junior High campuses and upgraded several elementary schools as well. The junior high facility opened in August 2008.

Superintendent E. S. Richardson

From 1921 to 1936, Edwin Sanders "E. S." Richardson served as the Webster Parish superintendent. In the summer of 1927, he made appearances across the nation to explain the school improvement and consolidation plan that he had implemented in Webster Parish. He spoke in seven states to educational conferences on what some had termed the "Webster miracle." Richardson continued with his reforms by the establishment of a uniform promotion plan of four principal points:

  • (1) Promotions in the first three grades were based on work done in reading and numbers. For the second grade, a student had to perform in two minutes fifteen simple addition problems and nine subtraction problems.
  • (2) In grades 4-7 a pupil had to pass arithmetic, reading, and language before being eligible for promotion. He could still be promoted with one failure in either of the other major subjects, history, civics, geography, and health. history, civics, geography, and health.
  • (3) A pupil absent from school for the last marking period could return for the final examinations provided he had performed passing work in arithmetic, reading, and language at the time of his withdrawal, and provided that his absence was for sufficient cause.
  • (4) Examinations were given at the beginning of each year to pupils, on request, if they failed two subjects, one of which could be arithmetic, reading, or language. Pupils who withdrew from school after attending as many as one hundred days could hence take examinations in all subjects with a view of promotion, provided they were doing passing work in reading, arithmetic, and language at the time of their withdrawal.

Pupils absent during the last marking period and who returned for the final examinations but failed to make passing grades, could again take examinations in the subjects in which they failed. Uniform tests were prepared by the superintendent and teachers and advertised in the newspaper as to when and where they would be administered. By defining this policy, Richardson hoped to further the standardization he established in nearly all aspects of the parish system, from furniture to textbooks.

Richardson was previously the superintendent for neighboring Bienville Parish from 1916 to 1920, when at forty-five, he took the top position in Webster Parish. He left Webster Parish schools in 1936, when he began a five-year stint as the president of Louisiana Tech University in Ruston. He is honored by the naming of E. S. Richardson Elementary School on East Todd Street in the eastern part of Minden.

W. W. Williams years

W. W. Williams, Sr., a native of Leesville in Vernon Parish in western Louisiana, began his teaching career in Shongaloo, Richardson Elementary School in Minden and then Minden High School, where he served from June 1952 to 1961. He and J. L. Cathcart, a native of South Carolina, switched principalships, with Cathcart transferred to Richardson and Williams to MHS. During his administration, the new building opened in 1954, as did a new football stadium, since renovated. In addition, a track, a covered walkway from the main building to the gymnasium, and parking lots were constructed. At the time, the gym contained one of the few indoor heated wimming pools in the state. Minden swim teams were state champions every single year of Williams' tenure. In 1981, the pool was abandoned when it became too costly to maintain.

The MHS Crimson Tide was the state football champion in 1938, 1954, 1956, the state basketball champion in 1955 and 1959, and the runner-up in 1954, the baseball champion in 1956 and runner-up in 1954 and 1955, the state track runner-up in 1963, the state track champion in 1964, 1965 and 1966, and the Gulf Open golf champion in 1956. Shreveport sportswriters at the time began to refer to Minden teams as the "Home of the Champions." Even when the teams did not win statewide, they were invariably district champions in the respective sports. In 1960, the football team secured the district title but lost to Neville High School, a longstanding athletic rival in Monroe. The team won statewide again in 1963 and 1980. In 1963, the later Superintendent Wayne "Butch" Williams, Jr., the older son of W. W. Williams, was a junior player on the winning MHS team and later for Louisiana Tech University..

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, MHS ranked in the top 1 percent on national standardized test scores in English, the top 2 percent science, the top 3 percent in mathematics, and the top 5 percent in social studies. The school has yet to match those tallies again.

Irene Botkins Williams (June 18, 1921 – September 20, 2015), a Kentucky native reared in Maysville and the wife of W. W. Williams for fifty-five years, was the MHS secretary for thirty-four years until her retirement in 1986. The couple met in Dayton, Ohio, where Williams was a captain in the United States Army Air Corps at Wright Field, later Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The City of Minden declared "Irene Williams Day" on May 21, 1986.

Maude Bullock (October 5, 1905 – July 5, 1987), who joined the Webster Parish school system in 1926 and was named the 1960 "Outstanding Educator of the Year", served for a time as principal of the junior-high section of the school before finishing her career as a seventh-grade teacher at the since defunct Theresa M. Lowe Junior High School.

In 1961, Williams was named "Citizen of the Year" by the Minden Lions Club. On September 4, 2009, the MHS football stadium was named the "W. W.Williams, Sr., Stadium."

The Morgan years

Carlus Dale Morgan (June 14, 1917 – October 18, 2007) succeeded Williams in 1961 as the MHS principal and served until 1969, when he became human resources director in the Webster Parish School Board office. He retired from the school system in the spring of 1971.Morgan had a distinguished World War II record, having served from 1941 to 1946. He received officer training at Morrison Field in Florida and was stationed for a time in both Newfoundland and Central America. At twenty-five, he was a United States Army major in charge of dignitaries at the Casablanca Conference, which met in Moroccot between January 14 and January 24, 1943, at the Anfa Hotel. Casablanca was then a French protectorate. Its purpose was to plan the European strategy of the Allies. The Casablanca Declaration called for the Allies to seek the "unconditional surrender" of the Axis Powers. The conference was followed by later summit meetings in Cairo, Egypt, and Teheran, Iran.

Morgan was born in Webster Parish to Oliver Craten Morgan and the former Parma Rosana Armour. He graduated from the former Shongaloo High School and first attended Louisiana College in Pineville but then completed his bachelor's and master's degrees from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.He was already teaching by the time that he entered the Army. After the war, he was appointed the principal of Heflin High School in Heflin in south Webster Parish. In 1960, he was named by the Webster Parish School Board as the first principal of the then newly opened Lowe Junior High School (since the Webster Parish Alternative School) in Minden but marked for razing. The school was named for Laura Theresa McConnell Lowe (1907–1959), a highly regarded Webster Parish educator originally from Rayville in Richland Parish. Morgan's former position at Heflin High School went to Harry Campbell, later the Webster Parish superintendent. Morgan served a year at Lowe Junior High School until he was named principal of Minden High School in 1961.

On December 13, 1942, then Lieutenant Morgan married the former Marion Inez Kirkley (March 9, 1925 – June 1, 2001), the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John T. Kirkley. John Kirkley was a farmer and a former employee of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture. The couple lived in the Evergreen Community north of Minden. The Morgans had two daughters, Barbara Ann Morgan Bogan (1944 – July 7, 2007) and Sandra Morgan Morgan, wife of John Paul Morgan (both born 1948). whomgraduated from Minden High School when their father was the principal.

On November 21, 1987, Morgan was narrowly elected to the Webster Parish Police Jury, the governing body of the parish, akin to county commissions in other states. He defeated his fellow Democrat, Joe Pearce, 473 votes (51 percent) to 463 (49 percent). He maintained an interest in rural development but did not seek reelection to the police jury in 1991.

Morgan died in a Bossier City hospital of complications from a fall. Services were held on October 22, 2007, with the Reverends Floyd Stratton, Ben Jordan, and Carol Daye Heard (1946-2013) officiating. Miss Heard had been a Minden High School student during the time of Morgan's principalship. In addition to his daughter Sandra, Morgan was survived by four grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. A member of the Evergreen Union Church, Morgan is interred at the Evergreen Cemetery. Pallbearers included Webster Parish Superintendent Wayne Williams, Jr., and two former superintendents, Richard V. Noles and the late Matt Martin.

Under Morgan, William Otto "Bill" Huth, Jr. (August 29, 1937 – January 7, 2015), a native off Karnes City near San Antonio, Texas, and a graduate of the University of Louisiana at Monroe, came to Minden High School in 1964 as an assistant principal and coach. For seven years he coached track and was inducted into the North Louisiana Track and Field Hall of Fame. His MHS track team won the state championship twice, placed second for two years, and in third place once. Huth became an elementary school principal and later, with his wife, Ann, a breeder in Webster Parish of thoroughbred horses. [18]

Cleve Strong years

Morgan was succeeded as principal by Cleveland S. "Cleve" Strong (October 18, 1923 – July 13, 2008), who served from 1967 to 1984. The son of Otis Lee and Lena Strong, he was born in Haughton in south Bossier Parish and died at his residence in Minden. He graduated in 1942 from Doyline High School in south Webster Parish. He served from 1942 to 1946 in the United States Navy. aAfter the war, he procured his bachelor's degree from Centenary College, a Methodist-affiliated institution in Shreveport, he was a three-year letterman in basketball, was captain of the men's basketball team during his senior year, and was an all-conference guard. He then earned a master's degree from Peabody College in Nashville, Tennessee, and he procured thirty graduate hours beyond his master's from Louisiana Tech. He was recalled by the military to serve in the Korean War from 1951 to 1952.

After teaching a year at Ringgold High School in neighboring Bienville Parish, Strong came to Minden High School in 1953 as the basketball coach. In ten seasons, his teams won 312 games and lost 97, a .763 success rate.Under Strong's guidance, MHS won one state runner-up and two state championship titles in 1955, when Jackie Moreland was a player, and again in 1959. During the time that Strong was either coach or principal, MHS teams won more than twenty state championships. In 1955 and 1959, he coached Louisiana High School Athletic Association All-Star teams. He was the first basketball coach named to the Louisiana High School Coaches Association. On January 28, 1988, Strong was inducted into the LHSAA Hall of Fame.

Strong served as MHS principal for seventeen years. In 1984, the school board in a 6-5 vote named him the secondary education supervisor. In that capacity, he replaced Everett Gail Doerge, a later state representative, who was elevated to assistant superintendent under Jerry Lott, who had succeeded Harry Campbell in 1984, upon Campbell's retirement after a long career that culminated in six years as superintendent. The late Matt Martin, then the principal of Sarepta High School, succeeded Strong as the principal of MHS.

Strong and his wife of fifty-two years, Evelyn Strong, had a son, Dr. Thomas Strong (born March 11, 1957) and wife Kim of Lake Charles, and daughters Linda Jones and husband Bill of Benton in Bossier Parish, and Janet Merrell and husband Larry of Bossier City; sisters Pauline Strong Causey (1916-2008) of Doyline, Virginia Allen (1921–2010) of Minden, Josephine Rodgers and husband Dave of West Monroe in Ouachita Parish, and brother Otis L. Strong, Jr.

Desegregation

MHS was desegregated in January 1966, when two African-American male students, Elroy Allums and George Washington, Jr., were enrolled without incident. On May 24, 1966, during the Morgan years, Allums became the first black in history to graduate from Minden High School. A second phase of desegregation ordered by the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana in Shreveport was launched in the middle 1970s, with the closure and consolidation of the former all-black Webster High School effective with the 1974-1975 school year. Thereafter, MHS became majority black in enrollment. The latest total is 54 percent black, 45 percent white, and 1 percent Hispanic. Some whites vacated MHS to enroll in the private Glenbrook School or to engage in home schooling.

Notable alumni

  • John Agan, Class of 1976 (1958-2020), Webster Parish historian and author
  • Jack Batton, Class of 1932 (1913-1996), Minden mayor, 1978-1982; previously a long-term city council member.
  • J. D. Batton, Class of 1929 (1911-1981), Sheriff of Webster Parish 1952-1964; Minden police chief, 1948-1952.
  • Bruce Bolin, Class of 1968, state representative, 1979-1990; state district judge, 1990-2012.
  • James Edwin Bolin, Class of 1931 (1914–2002), state representative, 1940–1944; district attorney 1948-1952, state district judge, 1952–1960; state appeal court judge, 1960–1978.
  • Arnold W. Braswell, Class of 1942, commander in chief, Pacific Air Forces at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii.
  • Noel Byars, Class of 1957, Minden mayor, 1982–1989; former educator.
  • Billy Joe Booth, Class of 1958 (1940-1972), football player for Ottawa Rough Riders in the Canadian Football League from 1962 to 1970; died in private plane crash in Canada.
  • Larry Brewer, Class of 1966 (1948-2003), MHS and Louisiana Tech football player; hospital administrator.
  • Barbara Ann Logan Colley, Class of 1965, romance and mystery novelist.
  • Floyd D. Culbertson, Jr., Class of 1927 (1908-1989), attorney who served as mayor of Minden from 1940 to 1942.
  • Allen Ross Culpepper, Class of 1962 (1944-1969), United States Army captain cited for "extraordinary heroism" in the Vietnam War.
  • Everett Doerge, educator and state representative, 1992 to 1998.
  • Harmon Caldwell Drew, Class of c. 1906 (1889-1950), district attorney, district judge, state circuit court judge.
  • Richard Harmon Drew, Jr., Class of 1964, veteran state circuit court judge based in Shreveport.
  • Richard Harmon Drew, Sr. Class of 1933 (1917–1995) , Minden city judge and state representative.
  • Jerry Frasier, Class of 1955, Hall of Fame coach in Georgia, twice nominated to National Coach of the Year, one of organizers of the Atlanta Track Club in 1963.
  • Thomas Wafer Fuller, Minden Male Academy (1867-1920), newspaperman, state senator from 1896 to 1900, and Webster Parish school superintendent.
  • Jasper Goodwill, Class of 1906 (1889–1974), mayor of Minden, 1955–1958.
  • Fred Haynes, Class of 1964 (1946–2006), MHS and LSU football star; did not play professionally.
  • Oscar Henry "O.H." Haynes, Jr., Class of 1939 (1920–1996), Webster Parish sheriff from 1964–1980.
  • Charlie Hennigan, Class of 1953 (1935-2017), professional football player and educator.
  • Thomas Gerald "Jerry" Huckaby, Class of 1959 , former member of the United States House of Representatives; retired in Lincoln Parish.
  • Herman "Wimpy" Jones, Class of 1924 (1905–1967), Bossier/Webster state senator from 1956–1960; original founder of Minden's former Southern Kitchen restaurant
  • Jenny Moreland Kennon, Class of 1957, Shreveport real estate businesswoman, widow of Jackie Moreland and former wife of Edward Kennon
  • Edward Kennon, Class of 1956, former member of the Louisiana Public Service Commission; Shreveport-area developer.
  • Robert F. Kennon, Class of 1919 (1902–1988), governor of Louisiana from 1952–1956; former Minden mayor, district attorney, and circuit court judge.
  • Graydon K. Kitchens, Jr., Class of 1954, city, ward, and state court judge in Minden.
  • David Allen Lee, Class of 1961, football player for the former Baltimore Colts.
  • Ben Earl Looney, Class of 1922 (1904–1981), artist based in Lafayette.
  • Cecil C. Lowe, Class of 1940 (1923-2013), judge of the Minden City Court and the Louisiana 26th Judicial District.
  • Jackie Moreland, Class of 1956 (1938–1971), first "All American" in basketball from Minden High School and professional player with the Detroit Pistons and the former New Orleans Buccaneers.
  • Frank T. Norman, Class of 1931 (1914–1994), Minden mayor from 1958–1966; city council member, 1952–1958.
  • Lane Pittard, Class of 1974, judge of the Louisiana 26th Judicial District Court
  • John Nicholas Sandlin, Minden Normal School and Business College (1872-1957), U.S. Representative from 1921-1937, district attorney.
  • David Snell, Class of 1939 (1921–1987), journalist and cartoonist with the defunct Life magazine.
  • William G. Stewart, Minden Male Academy (1854-1925), farmer and namesake of the since razed William G. Stewart Elementary School in Minden.
  • Raymond Tate, Class of 1982, led MHS to its last state championship in 1980. Named one of the most outstanding players in Louisiana history by the prestigious sports writer Jerry Byrd in his book, "Louisiana's Best in High School Football." He continued his playing career with the University of Houston Cougars, playing in two Cotton Bowls.
  • Jimmy Upton, Class of 1967 (1949–2003), track star at MHS and University of Louisiana at Monroe.
  • John Thomas Watkins, Minden Male Academy (1854–1925) , U. S. Representative from 1905 to 1921.
  • Lynn Kyle Watkins, Minden Male Academy (1858-1935), state circuit judge prior to 1912.
  • Stepfret Williams, Class of 1991, football player for the Dallas Cowboys.
  • Marcus D. Wren, Class of 1941 (1924-2020), pioneer of the Minden area dairy industry.

References