- Forest Park High School, Beaumont, Texas 1962 - 1982
outh Park ISD and West Brook
This article is significant because it relates to the most influential trends in mid 20th century
United Stateshistory, the Post-World War II baby boomand Desegregation. Also, Forest Park and the other South Park ISD high schools produced generations of notable citizens of Southeast Texas. That the story of this school and its district is of historical significance is evidenced by the decision to publish a dissenting opinion (see next paragraph) by United States Supreme Court Justice Powell and Justice Rehnquist to the majority United States Supreme Court decision which ultimately led to the restructuring of the district. Also, Justice Powell published a decision three years later, when implementation of school reorganization plan was imminent, stating his belief that important issues of law relate to the validity of this pending school reorganization but that he had to decline efforts to postpone the plan.
Forest Park High School in
Beaumont, Texas, was in the South Park Independent School Districtalong with South Park High Schooland Hebert High School. Efforts for integration of schools led to the United States Supreme Court in 1978 [http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=439&invol=1007] and 1981 [http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?navby=search&court=US&case=/us/453/1301.html] and ultimately resulted in Forest Park being combined with Hebert in 1982 to become West Brook Senior High School. [http://heberthigh69.org/school_info.htm] and [http://www.beaumont.k12.tx.us/westbrook/] Later in the 1980s, South Park was merged with West Brook. West Brook is located at the former Forest Park campus. [http://texas.schooltree.org/public/West-Brook-Senior-High-081275-aerial.html?zoom=12]
All three former schools of the South Park District had storied histories, especially South Park and Hebert, as they opened in 1891 and 1914, respectively, and produced many decades of outstanding graduates. [http://lumoto.000webhost.org/southpark/history/sporigin.htm] Articles and websites about South Park and Hebert led to the initial creation of this article about Forest Park. [http://heberthigh69.org/school_info.htm] [http://lumoto.com/southpark] Members of the Forest Park Class of 1981 publish an interactive website about the school and its alumni. [http://www.forestparkhighschool.org]
The first year West Brook existed, 1983, the
footballteam won the Texas state championship in the largest classification in Texas, 5A, [http://www.thelittleswc.com/champs.html] under the direction of the legendary head coach Alex Durley, formerly the head coach at Hebert and member of the Texas Coaches Hall of Honor. [http://coach.thsca.com/documents/HOHList.pdf] The football / track stadium on the West Brook campus is named in honor of Coach Durley. [http://www.texasbob.com/football/seindex1.html] Among the many excellent athletes on that team was Jerry Ball, originally from Hebert, and he went on to dominate in the NFL with the Detroit Lions. [http://www.museumofthegulfcoast.org/Content/Personalities/Sports_Legends/Jerry_Ball] Other important members of that team were Terence McCartyand Layne Walker, both originally from Forest Park, and in 2002 Layne was elected as Judgeof the 252nd Criminal District courtof Jefferson County, Texas, in Beaumont. [http://www.co.jefferson.tx.us/distcrts/252nd.htm]
Traditions & Teachers
The school colors of Forest Park were Blue and Grey and the Mascot was The Trojans. The life-size Trojan figure carried around to rally fans was named Egor. The dance team was called the Trojanns. The Trojan Band, the cheerleaders, the twirlers, and the flags performed during sport events. Other traditions included Junior-Senior
Prom, Senior Prom, Twirp Week & Dance, the Winter Ball, the Powder Pufffootball game, the Annual Play, Homecoming bonfire& dance, Trojan Games Day, and Skip Day. The school paper was called Populi Verbum. One tradition from 1977 to 1980 was to yell the name "Sommers!" whenever the lights were dimmed for school assemblies. Another tradition was for Mark Fiorenza and the Senior Athletics Supporting Association, or SASA, to lead off-color cheers at basketball games. The "Field" was a popular place to relax with the "Doobie Brothers" and enjoy a Serv-o-mation coke and a bag of Nacho-flavored Dorito's during the lunch hour. Ninth-grade students were called Fish and were said to be adept at rolling peas across the cafeteria floor with their noses. [1980 Trojan (school year book) pages 8 through 35, 40 through 51, pages 54, 55, 60, 61, 64, 65 and 75]
The teachers or staff at Forest Park included
Ethel Emmons( Latin), Margaret Kirkindall(Director of Student Activities), James Craig ( Mathematics), Robert Edwards ( Government), and Walter La Forge( Choir). Ms. Emmons taught Latin, and her teams at the state Latin conventions regularly finished in the top 3 in state. [1980 Trojan (school year book) pages 202 through 204, page 66]
In the 1970s, the Trojans played in District 21-4A. Member schools in the 1970s were
Beaumont-Charlton Pollard High School, French High School, Forest Park, Nederland High School, Lincoln High School, Thomas Jefferson High School, Port Neches-Groves High School, VidorHigh School, and West Orange-Stark High School. [1980 Trojan (school year book) page 101] From 1920 to the present, teams from the schools which made up this district in the 1970s played in 15 state championship games and won 7 times, including the 1975 Port Neches-Groves Indians and the 1984 Beaumont French Buffaloes. In 1980 the Port Arthur Thomas Jefferson Yellow Jackets (now Port Arthur Memorial Titans) suffered a hard-fought loss in the State Championship game. All three of these games were against the Odessa Permian Panthers, another school from a Texas Oil Patch. [http://www.thelittleswc.com/champs.html]
Forest Park did not win a 22-4A district championship in football but came close in 1979 with a record of 7 wins and 3 losses. 1979 was the first season the Trojans defeated the legendary Texas powerhouse program of the Port Neches - Groves Indians. [1980 Trojan (school year book) page 99] The Summer 1979 prediction for this district in Texas Football Magazine stated, "It was a strange year in 22-AAAA last season - Port Neches-Grove did NOT win the district, Vidor did. Now that the monopoly has been broken, several schools - West Orange-Stark in particular - seem intent on making sure it remains broken. But, Vidor won't yield its crown without a struggle, and Forest Park has the people to stir up the dust, too." [Summer 1979 Dave Campbells Texas Football magazine, page 205] Returning starters named in the Forest Park paragraph following were
quarterback Jay Burtonand running back Trey Barclayon offense and Casey Bobb, Tommy Osborneand Dimitri Geekeron defense. [Summer 1979 Dave Campbells Texas Football magazine, page 205] The last graduating class of Forest Park, the Class of 1982, recorded the second, and final, victory of Forest Park over PNG. [Down Trails of Victory, The Story of Port Neches-Groves High School Football, page 336; Jon Buck Ford, Ed.D; Wrinkle-Ford Creative Arts.] Paul Carswell, the head coach at Forest Park since the 1976 season, had been an assistant coach at PNG from the 1965 season through the 1975 season when the Indians won the Texas state championship under legendary coach Doug Ethridge. [Down Trails of Victory, The Story of Port Neches-Groves High School Football, pages 223, 298; Jon Buck Ford, Ed.D; Wrinkle-Ford Creative Arts.] [http://www.pngfootball.com/down.htm] Basketball
Forest Park had a strong basketball program that included many winning teams. The 1979-1980 squad included Rob Graham in the important position of team laundry engineer. The team also included Tim Bailey, who was very close to making all-district 1st team due to his ability to always find a way to get the basketball to the hoop in any situation, and Mike Seiler who was almost 4th string all-district at the forward position.
Forest Park graduates who were drafted in
Major League Baseballinclude Pitcher Billy Swope, 15th, by the Oakland Athleticsin 1969 [http://sports-wired.com/teams/stats.asp?T=21&Y=1969&N=D] , Pitcher John Binks, 12th, by the Boston Red Soxin 1970 [http://www.sports-wired.com/teams/stats.asp?T=5&Y=1970&N=D] , and PitcherMichael Barrett, 19th, by the Cincinnati Redsin 1976 [http://www.sports-wired.com/teams/stats.asp?T=8&Y=1976&N=D] .
In 1976, the team, led by
pitcherMike Barrett won District 22-4A and beat District 21-4A Port Arthur Thomas Jefferson in the bi-district playoffs. They lost to Texas City High School in the regional playoffs, two games to one.
The Forest Park baseball team went to the Texas State 3A (at that time, the second largest classification) Finals in 1967 but lost to
South San Antonio High School3 to 0. [http://www.uil.utexas.edu/athletics/archives/baseball/tournament_records.html] Golf
The Forest Park boys golf teams produced Texas State Champions
Bruce Lietzke[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Lietzke] in 1967 (3A) and Britt Harrisonin 1975 (4A) and the Texas State Team Champions in 1968. [http://www.uil.utexas.edu/athletics/archives/golf/boys_champions.html] Cross Country
Coached by the legendary Ian Stewart, a native of England and a Lamar distance great, the Forest Park Cross Country team won every district championship from 1962 until the schools merger in 1982. Notable runners included John Heffner who won an individual Southwest Conference Championship while at Texas A&M in 1966. Chris Russell was the last Forest Park district champion in 1981. He also won district championships in 1979 and 1980 and went on to compete for Louisiana State University.
Timeline of the African-American Civil Rights Movement
Post-World War II baby boom
Cooper High School (Abilene, Texas)
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