History of Allen ISD Where Eagles Soar

Allen School House in 1886.

The Early Years

The Allen Independent School District celebrated its 100th birthday in 2010 but the history of Allen’s schools stretches back to the early days of Texas.

Pioneers moved into the area called Peter’s Colony from Tennessee starting in the late 1830s. G.W. Ford, grandfather of W.E. Pete Ford, settled on land near Bethany Lakes Park in 1836. As more settlers moved in, the need for schools and churches grew. Crude log buildings were often used for both purposes. Eventually separate the school and church buildings were built and the small community started to grow.

Allen School Eighth Grade in 1918.

Before 1910, a number of one or two-room schools were located near the current City of Allen. Among these schools was the Mustang School which was built in 1851 near Bethany Lakes Park. Others included Wetsel School (Highway 5 and Stacy Rd), Cottonwood School (Cottonwood Drive), Bethany School (Bethany near Custer) and the Allen School (downtown Allen). These “common schools” first fell under state authority in 1867 when every county established a common school district. An election on April 15, 1910 created the Allen Independent School District and moved authority from the county to a local school board. A community vote of 67 out of 70 votes created Allen ISD’s first school board with Milton Whisenant as board president.

The Allen School

The Brick Allen School in 1911.

The board’s first accomplishment was the successful passage of a bond election for $12,000 to replace the old Allen School with a new brick schoolhouse. The Allen Public School building opened in 1911 with six classrooms and an auditorium. The familiar two story red brick building would remain as Allen’s only school for 50 years. School records indicate that Allen had an enrollment of 200 students with five teachers and a principal in 1910. Teachers were not allowed to be married and received a salary of approximately $45 per month.

Allen's longest tenured teacher was Gladys Watson who dedicated her life to her students for 46 years from 1924 to 1970. She was joined by colleague Francis Norton who taught from 1939 to 1972. No Allen child from the time could look back on his or her education without mentioning Miss Watson and Miss Norton.

Allen’s longest tenured teacher, Gladys Watson, arrived in Allen from Culleoka in 1924. Miss Watson dedicated her life to children as she taught in Allen for 46 years before finally retiring in 1970. Watson’s colleague for 33 years was Frances Norton. She taught in Allen from 1939 to 1972. No Allen child from the time could look back on his or her education without mentioning Miss Watson and Miss Norton. They were a part of every child who attended the Allen Schools for almost 50 years.

Allen School in 1956.

Consolidation and Closures

By the 1930s, many of the smaller county schools were closed and consolidated with larger ones. Faulkner (known as Hog Waller) closed first. The Bethany School closed and students were split between Allen and Plano. Bush School students were also divided – this time between Allen and Frisco. Allen’s request for more territory at the time was denied by the County School Board which explains why the Allen district is significantly smaller than its neighbors in land size.

The State Board of Education pushed Allen in 1934 to either reduce to eight grades from 10 or expand to grade 11. Students previously could complete high school in McKinney or Plano. The Allen school board voted to expand the grades to 11 and then added grade 12 in 1936.

Segregation laws prevented black students from attending the Allen Schools so students either attended school in private homes, traveled far to school or simply did not attend school. The County moved to formalize education for primary level students by opening the Allen Negro School in 1931. Students had the option to continue their education at the segregated Doty High School in McKinney or Douglass High School in Plano until 1964. The original Allen Negro School was rebuilt in 1953 and sold in 1964. The building stands at the corner of Cedar Street and Saint Mary’s Drive.

Black students had the option to continue their education at the segregated Doty High School in McKinney or Douglass High School in Plano until 1964. The original Allen Negro School was rebuilt in 1953 and sold in 1964. The building stands at the corner of Cedar Street and Saint Mary’s Drive.

The Rev. George Anderson began teaching at Allen’s segregated school in 1949. As one of only two teachers at the school, he taught grades 5 through 8 until 1964 when the school was permanently closed. He remained a prominent figure in Allen’s African American community as a social studies teacher and coach at the Allen Middle School and as pastor of St. Mary’s Church.

Small businesses, including the local bank, closed during the depression and the town’s population fell to 400 people in 1950. It was at this same time that an initiative to close smaller school districts and consolidate them with larger ones swept the state.

Allen’s small enrollment made it a target for consolidation if it lost state accreditation. As a result of state legislation in 1949, Collin County School Superintendent moved to consolidate the county into four regional districts.

Efforts by Superintendent Pete Moseley and community leaders such as Alton Boyd, Luther Bolin, Alvis Story, Carl Marion, Major Neely, Frank Howlett, T.H. Cundiff and L.C. Summers brought attention to the possible closure of Allen ISD. A sweep of the district was made to recruit students in the rural areas who were not attending school.

Community Leaders Step Up

A timely election in 1950 awarded the County Superintendent’s post to Allen’s own Pete Moseley and Raymond “Gene” Curtis took over as Allen’s superintendent. This averted the county takeover but didn’t eliminate the threat of closure for Allen ISD. The most critical time was 1956-57 when the district had 158 students enrolled. If a school district fell under 157 students, it lost its accreditation and reverted to common school status.

The 1950 Allen Eagles with the Football Sweetheart.

The city and school populations slowly began to grow by 1960. Planning began for a new high school in 1956 and Allen High School opened for the 1959-1960 school year. Over the next 25 years, this small high school would be expanded or have portions remodeled ten different times.

By 1968, Allen ISD Enrollment topped 500. The slow but steady growth led to the opening of Rountree Elementary in 1974 and Boyd Elementary in 1978.

Max Vaughan came to Allen as a teacher and football coach in 1953. He later became high school principal and a central office administrator serving Allen ISD over 32 years. He coached many successful six-man, eight-man and 11-man football teams once leading the Eagles to a 43 game winning streak. Top left is Mr. Vaughan, top, with students in 1957. Top right, Mr. Vaughan in the Army. Bottom left in retirement with his wife, Hettie. Bottom right, Mr. Vaughan is honored for his years of service to Allen ISD.

Enrollment Growth Round 1

Allen had modestly grown through the 1970s but fast suburban growth in Richardson and then Plano made it clear that Allen would not remain a quiet community for long. Enrollment almost doubled in 1975-76 which led to the opening of Gene Reed Elementary in 1981 and Pete Ford Middle School in 1983. By 1985, enrollment had reached 3,367.

The Allen High School band program began in 1968 under the direction of Earl Haberkamp. The first marching band took the field at the 1970 homecoming game with 30 members under the direction of Randy Bartlett. Putting the numbers in perspective, Allen’s total enrollment in 1970 was 588 students. Today, the Escadrille has more than 780.

Allen High School in 1974.

During the 1980s, Allen began to modernize the original Allen School and expand the high school. Cafeteria, auditorium and classroom additions were completed in 1985 and are still part of the Lowery Center.

Texas Outstanding Board of Trustees

The year 1985 was a big one for Allen ISD. The Board of Trustees was named Outstanding Board of the Year by the Texas Association of School Boards. These board members included Dr. E.T. Boon, Glen Renfrow, Mary Evans, Glenn Andrew, Chuck Williams, Jim Kerr, Jack Callicutt and Superintendent Dr. John Horn. Allen also celebrated the school district’s 75th anniversary in 1985.

Allen High School Cheerleaders 1979

Enrollment Growth Round 2

The 1990s would be characterized by a housing boom in Allen and the efforts of Allen ISD to keep pace. Large developments, particularly in west Allen, brought thousands of new students into Allen. Walter and Lois Curtis Middle School opened in 1994 and Flossie Floyd-Green Elementary opened in 1995. Two more elementary schools honoring George Anderson and Frances Norton opened in 1997. The Pat Dillard Center also opened in 2001.

Allen High School in 2000.

The "new" Allen High School, opened its doors in August 1999 at Rivercrest and Greenville. The former high school was converted into a ninth grade center in honor of school counselor Becky Lowery.

Eight more elementary schools and a third middle school would open over the next ten years. These included schools named for James Kerr and Luther & Anna Mae Bolin (2000); James & Margie Marion (2003); Thomas Ereckson (2004); Dr. E.T. Boon (2005); Carlena Chandler (2006); Mary Evans (2008); James and Lynda Olson (2009); and Beverly Cheatham (2010), Lois Lindsey (2013) and Jenny Preston (2017).

Dr. Jenny Preston cuts the Ribbon for the new Dr. Jenny Preston Elementary School in 2017.

Three additional projects completed in 2011 and 2012 included the AHS Performing Arts Center, the AHS Career Tech Center and Allen Eagle Stadium.

State Champions

Allen Eagle Stadium at night.

As Allen High School grew in size, it also earned state and national recognition for academics and athletics. The school was named as a National Blue Ribbon campus in 1999. The Girls Golf Team won the school’s first team state championship in 2005 and won again in 2006. The wrestling team won eight consecutive state titles beginning in 2009 and the Allen Eagle football team won the Texas 5-A or 6-A State Championship in 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2017.

A Vision Realized

Today, Allen ISD serves more than 21,800 students on 24 campuses. However, one thing has remained constant over the past 108 years: The Allen community is proud of their schools and has stepped up to support them countless times. Many of the founding families are gone but their vision for an independent school district that would serve our community for years to come still thrives.

Allen Elementary School students in 1940.
Ereckson Middle School Orchestra in 2017.

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