HISTORY OF JOHN S. ARMSTRONG SCHOOL
Armstrong School, the first school in the Highland Park Independent School District, opened its doors in October 1914 after the incorporation of the Town of Highland Park in 1913. Mrs. John Scarbrough (Alice) Armstrong donated the land upon which the school was built in memory of her late husband, the purchaser, and developer of the area that became Highland Park.
The first building to occupy this land, bounded by Cornell, Byron and St. Johns, was a one-story yellow brick building consisting of four rooms and a basement. Only three rooms served as classrooms and the fourth room served as a Sunday school room. The first faculty comprised of three teachers and a principal, Ms. Belle Francis. By 1916, with twelve teachers and classes ranging from Kindergarten to sophomores in High School, the second floor of four rooms was added. Further additions were made in 1920 (four rooms), 1923 (two-story north wing, twelve rooms), 1932 (stage, gym), 1933 (auditorium) and 1950 (the "Annex": four rooms and restrooms). The entire Highland Park Independent School District was housed in the Armstrong School until 1922 when the High School opened. With the openings of John S. Bradfield Elementary School (1926) and the University Park Elementary School (1928), the faculty for the new schools were established by a nucleus of teachers who transferred from Armstrong School. In 1951, a fire "of undetermined origin" destroyed all of Armstrong School except for the Annex. During the two-year reconstruction, pupils attended classes at Highland Park Methodist Church. The Annex was incorporated into the present structure, which opened in the fall of 1953. In 1955, through the efforts of the PTA, the Police Department began closing Byron between Cornell and St. Johns and created compulsory one-way streets of Cornell and St. Johns during school hours. In 1958, the second floor of the Annex, including four rooms and the art-music room, was added.
The last half of the twentieth century saw growth in student numbers, recognition as an outstanding elementary school by the U.S. Office of Education, a rating of Exemplary by the State of Texas, and numerous awards for the faculty of Armstrong. Portable units were added to the campus; the cafeteria, supply room, and library continued to thrive. Renovations completed in 2011 addressed the pressures of continued enrollment growth. Alice's Garden at Armstrong Elementary was completed as an outdoor learning space for the campus in 2014. The faculty continues to earn the description given in 1964 by Superintendent Frank Monroe when he described our system as one "where excellence is expected, respected, and rewarded."
Since Armstrong’s beginning, PTA efforts have provided support for rebuilding, new equipment purchases, daily operations, and continued improvements and success while endeavoring to be supportive of the faculty and staff, while the Dads' Club remains an active contributor. John S. Armstrong School, the oldest school in the HPISD, is the pride of our community.
PRINCIPALS OF JOHN S. ARMSTRONG SCHOOL:
- 1914 – 1916 Ms. Belle Francis
- 1917 – 1919 Mr. C. P. Hudson
- 1920 – 1922 Mr. H. E. Gable
- 1922 – 1938 Mr. H. B. Howard
- 1938 – 1945 Mr. J. Bayles Earle
- 1945 – 1978 Mr. Ralph B. Griffin
- 1978 – 1995 Dr. Kenneth Thomas
- 1995 – 1996 Dr. Jane Robbins, Interim Principal
- 1996 – 2011 Dr. Mary Richey
- 2011 - 2018 Dr. Skip Moran
- 2018 (present) Ms. Betsy Cummins