On January 3, 1931, the first classes were held at Sam Houston Junior High School. The original two-story building consisted of one hallway which ran north and south and was made up of approximately twenty classrooms, an auditorium to seat 350, a cafeteria, four restrooms and an office area. The enrollment was approximately 200 students.
In 1939 the first renovation and addition of the building took place. What has become known was the "small" gym was added to the northeast of the school. Though it was used for physical education classes and athletics, those were not options for girls. Within fifteen years the growth of Amarillo to the north and west made it necessary to add more classrooms and a larger cafeteria. One wing was added to each of the north and south ends of the original structure. This included thirteen new classes, an enlarged cafeteria, a band/choir hall, one student restroom and two faculty restrooms. Also added was a separate building in which to house metal and woodworking shops.
The campus stayed at this state until about 1959 when another gymnasium was added. This allowed girls to also be enrolled in physical education classes. From 1959 until 1983 the facilities at 815 S. Independence remained the same. In the summer of 1983, the twelve foot ceilings were lowered to ten and half feet, ceiling fans were installed in each classroom, new lighting fixtures were put in place and a new gymnasium for district-wide use was completed. The newer of the other gyms was transformed into the band hall, but no new classrooms were added. Enrollment reached a high for the period at 650 students in the seventh through ninth grades (ages 12-16).
At the beginning of August 1988, Sam Houston changed from a junior high school to a middle school. Both the eighth and ninth grade classes from the previous year went on to high school, and in turn, received the fifth and sixth grade classes from the three elementary schools that feed into the school.
The summer of 1991 saw the metal and woodworking shops changed into two science labs and two lecture rooms. An addition also allowed for an expansion of the cafeteria and a connecting hall from the main building to the gyms and band hall. The building was again altered in 1993 by adding two more science labs to the plan. A third wing was also added to the building that same year. It changed the shape of the building from a C to an E and allowed for eight more classrooms.
Beginning during the 98-99 school year, another addition to the original building was begun. This section was placed at the northwest corner and extended from the building to the north parking lot. Additions of four classrooms, two storage closets for teachers, two women's restrooms and one girls' restroom and a utilities closet made up this area. Also included was another entrance to the building which is handicap accessible. This addition was ready for the start of the 99-00 year.
At this time Sam Houston Middle School serves approximately 850 students, four administrators, three counselors, sixty-nine teachers, twenty paraprofessionals and staff, five custodians, and ten cafeteria personnel. With the continued growth of our city it is evident that our place in the scheme of Amarillo will continue.
Contributed by Donna Morehead