Organization of the State Board of Education
Originally, public schools in Texas were governed by the State Board of Education, as
established in 1866 and 1876, a committee of nine members appointed by the governor according to other positions they held in the
government, and led by a State Superintendent of Public Education. In 1929, this group was reorganized by constitutional amendment.
In 1941, in an effort to "beef up" standards, the State Board of Education added the twelfth grade to the curriculum and, much later,
allowed kindergarten and pre-school on a voluntary basis, comprising the system we use today.
In 1949, the Gilmer-Aiken Laws abolished
this board and the Texas Education Agency was formed, consisting of 21 members, one from each congressional district, and led by a
Commissioner of Education. This group was given much more control over local school districts than previous boards. Presently,
it sets teacher licensing and standards, determines text book standards and adoption, mandates education requirements and policies
and controls state and Federal monies and disbursements to the schools of the state. For a more comprehensive discussion of
the ever-increasing powers and mandates of the Texas Education Agency, please go to this link: http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/met02
Racial Segregation of School Students in Texas
Because of the early-day state policy of segregation, a grades 1-7 ward school
for Spanish-speaking students was built near the present site of El Buen Pastor Mexican Methodist Church at 3rd and Pine, shortly
after organization of the county. A part of this frame building was moved to the high school grounds near the site of the old
shop building at Hackberry and 2nd Street and improved.
In 1929, the East Ward School for Hispanic children was built on
the present parking lot between the band hall and the Terrell County Fair Building. The Fair building started life
as the C.A.C. building and then became the VFW hall. At this time the Anglo school was called "American Ward," though the name
was hardly used as such.
In 1938, the present band hall was built to the west of the old school, facing 3rd Street, to become the
Lamar Ward School. Students were overcrowded in the three rooms of the East Ward building and spilled over into the rented
C.A.C. building. Passage of a school bond was assured when projections exceeded 540 students for the '38-'39 school year.
Lamar Ward School was organized nearly the same as the "American Ward," except that the 1st Grade class was divided into a Low 1st,
to accomodate students who spoke no English, and a High 1st for students who spoke English. Some years the 2nd Grade
was also divided the same. At the same time, other grades were combined, such as 5th Grade/6th Grade and 3rd Grade/4th
Grade. Apparently the separation and combination of grades depended upon the numbers of students that year and their fluency
In 1954, the state school system was desegregated by Federal law, and for a few years the Lamar Ward School housed
three integrated 1st grade classes. Eventually, when the new elementary school was completed, classes were moved to the
new building and the Lamar Ward building was converted into a band hall. The old school was demolished in 1975.
School District reorganizes
In 1958, the Common School District #1 was reorganized and became Terrell County
Independent School District. The district tax office was created, with Mr. A. H. Zuberbueler as the first Tax-collector and
Business Manager for the District.
Sanderson Elementary School built
In 1959, with the old red school building nearing the end of its
useful life, the new elementary school was built at the top of Fourth Street. With the condemnation of the third floor of the
old school and implementation of desegregation in the district, the district began to undergo crowding of the student body.
The new Lamar Ward School, as completed in 1939. Directly behind it is the old Lamar Ward School, built in 1929, previously
called the East Ward School, and behind that the Atletico Catolico, or, C.A.C. building, eventually becoming the VFW Hall and today
the Terrell County Fair building. The old school was used for storage and as a locker room for junior high athletics, but was
finally demolished in 1975. When the Hispanic school census reached 540 in 1937, the C.A.C. building was used for overflow.
A grant and matching funds totaling $45,000 built the new building and made renovations at the gymnasium and the red brick school.
Sanderson Junior High School building completed
Still, the faithful old building served another ten years until the new, octagonal
Junior High School building was erected in 1970, at Hackberry and 2nd Streets. As soon as the new building was occupied, wreckers
moved in to raze the red brick school, which held so many dear (and not so dear) memories for generations of Sanderson residents.
They remembered with joy the plays, parties, assembly programs and year-round activities that took place in that dear old building,
including the thrill of sliding down the unique fire escape slides at each end of the building.
And so, the years rolled by with the
school and administration comforted by the thought that the district's facilities were in good condition and met the standards of
the state and the needs of the students and parents.
In 1977, however, the Sanderson Times reported that the high school building was visited by unknown arsonists
and considerable damage was done to the building. The 1978 SHS Annual put it this way:
"On Sunday morning, August 28, 1977,
at approximately1:30 a.m., a fire broke out in the high school library office. At first faulty wiring was blamed for the fire, but
it was later confirmed by authorities that the fire was arson.
"The library office was destroyed and fire burned through to the Biology
Lab causing extensive damage. Smoke damage was extensive in the library, and varied in degree according to how close the rooms were
to the fire.
"Students were given two days off from school in order that teachers might salvage equipment and find other places
to hold classes. The Junior High and Courthouse were where the relocations were made.
"It was six weeks before the high school
could be cleaned up enough to hold classes in the undamaged rooms."
Extensive work was done to restore the facilities over the next
year and the crime was thoroughly investigated, but the culprits were never caught.
In 1996, in the middle of class one morning, students were rapidly evacuated from the high school
building, not even allowed to retrieve personal items from their lockers. Officials had discovered a dangerous sag in the roof
of the auditorium and an inspecting engineer warned that it was in imminent danger of collapse, perhaps bringing the rest of the building
down with it.
By doubling up classes and using the education building of St. James Church across the street, the student body
was moved to the Junior High School building, and there remained until the auditorium was renovated and structural problems remedied.
In a few short months the building was ready for occupancy, but, the incident was a red flag that all was not right with the venerable
high school building.
Ms. Martha Anderson's Low First Grade students at Lamar Ward School, 1936 - 1937
The new Sanderson Elementary School, opened in 1959.
Sanderson Junior High School, opened in 1970.
Investigators, trying to determine who set the fire and the motive for doing so. No one was ever brought to justice for the
The west end of the High School building where the auditorium is located. Wooden beams in the ceiling had failed after 60 years
and the roof sagged dangerously, threatening imminent collapse. New support columns were placed inside and the wood replaced
with steel beams to correct the problem. This photo is from 1931, shortly before construction was complete. The Frankie
Cash Administration building and the homemaking cottage had not yet been constructed.
©Terrell County Memorial Museum, except where attribution is given.
The Story of Terrell County Schools
Sanderson Schools Photo Album