Top 100 Best High Schools 2013 – Highland Park High School – Newsweek – 86/100

Top 100 Best High Schools 2013 – Highland Park High School – Newsweek – 86/100

Top 100 Best High Schools 2013 – Highland Park High School – Newsweek – 86/100


Highland Park High School

Motto “Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve”
Established 1922
Type Public High School
Principal Walter Kelly
Faculty 134
Students 2,026
Grades 9-12
Location 4220 Emerson,
University ParkTexasUnited States
Colors Blue, Gold, and White               
Athletics UIL 10 AAAA
Mascot Fighting Scot
Yearbook The Highlander
Newspaper The Bagpipe
Band Highlander Band
Drill Team Highland Belles

4220 Emerson Ave, Dallas, TX 75205, United States



The school was established in 1922. Before 1922, Highland Park students who were ready for high school rode the trolley down Cole Avenue to Dallas to attend Bryan Street High School. When the new high school opened in January, 1922, pupils in eighth and ninth grade attended school at Armstrong Elementary School in Highland Park in half-day sessions until the building was ready for occupancy. They returned to Armstrong for lunch the remainder of that year. Those who had cars filled them to capacity for the “trip to lunch”, and the other students walked.

The tenth grade was added in the fall of 1922, and the eleventh grade a year later. In 1924, thirty-three students became the first graduating class of the Highland Park Independent School District (at that time, only eleven years of school were required prior to college admittance; it was not until 1937 that the twelfth grade was added.)[1]

It was this first location on Normandy east of High School Street that became the middle school in 1937 when the current Highland Park High School building was erected on Emerson Avenue. The old building become the Highland Park Junior High School, which in later years was renamed Arch H. McCulloch Middle School. The school added the fifth grade and split into Highland Park Middle School for grades 7 and 8 and Arch H. McCulloch Intermediate School for 5th and 6th graders upon moving to a new facility after which the old building was demolished.

Ben W. Wiseman, Sr. served as Principal for 34 years, retiring in 1962. A plaque bearing Mr. Wiseman’s profile is situated inside the entry of the high school with the quotation by Ralph Waldo Emerson; “an institution is the lengthened shadow of a man.” He was the Dean of Weatherford College in Weatherford, Texas before accepting the job as Highland Park High School Principal. Mr. Wiseman was a decorated Captain in the United States Army and served in combat during World War II. Mr. Wiseman was a nationally recognized public educator when in 1960 his picture appeared in Look Magazine’s May edition with his photo and that of 23 year old Charles Otstott of the U.S. Naval Academy and 22 year old Alton (“Butch”)Thompson, ex-school mates at Highland Park High School. The significance of the photograph was that both Otstott and Thompson had just graduated from their respective military academies at the top of their class. Otstott and Thompson were dubbed in the article as “Wiseman Boys.” Wiseman is credited for developing the first language laboratory in a public school in the United States. Convinced that students learned quickly by what they heard, he solicited funds from several prominent Highland Park businessmen to provide the reel-to-reel tape recorders needed to record and re-play the daily lesson plan. He then wired small secluded booths for each of the 20 students who wore headsets and listened to the lesson plan of the day. Each student repeated the Spanish or French words/phrases out loud into their individual headset microphones. The language teacher then could eavesdrop on each student individually and make suggestions to the students as need be. Mr. Wiseman recruited the woodshop teacher to build the booths as the cost of such a progressive learning tool was not in the school budget. In addition to foreign languages, Mr. Wiseman had the first remedial reading classes in a public school in the United States. Noting that many of his students were very bright but had problems reading and reversing letters when they wrote, he created reading classes for these special students. Mr. Wiseman called this condition being “left-eyed.” Known today as dyslexia, Mr. Wiseman tutored his own grandson, a student in one of Highland Park’s elementary schools and that grandson successfully reversed his condition and graduated from Highland Park and from Texas Tech University. Wiseman was fluent in French and Spanish; was a master woodcarver; built his own greenhouse in which he grew African violets; was so physically fit that he could perform hand stands at age 55. Born in 1890, Mr. Wiseman died of heart failure in 1963 at his modest home in Highland Park.

In 1987 the HPISD school board voted to not to petition the University Interscholastic League (UIL) to keep Highland Park High School in athletic class 5A; the UIL had the possibility of demoting Highland Park High School to athletic class 4A as part of its biannual reclassification.[2] Since then, an old joke told around the UIL’s bi-annual reclassification is that the cutoff for Class AAAA is “Highland Park plus {some number}”, though in practice the school’s enrollment has been well below the normal cutoff (but in 2014 the school will move up in classification to what was formerly AAAAA, to be renamed AAAAAA as part of an overall renaming scheme).

In 2003, a four-year remodeling of the school was completed which added a new wing to provide more classroom space and allow for a new, larger cafeteria. Additionally, the project included the addition of outdoor tennis courts, a softball field, and a parking garage.

Currently, Highland Park High School is the only high school in the Highland Park Independent School District. Other schools in the district include University Park Elementary, Robert S. Hyer Elementary, John S. Armstrong Elementary, and John S. Bradfield Elementary. These four schools feed into Arch H. McCulloch Intermediate School and Highland Park Middle School, both of which are housed in the same building.

Recent events[edit]
In 1999, Dallas police issued 200 alcohol and curfew violations citations to Park Cities teens partying in a Deep Ellum warehouse. CNN picked up the story, and after it emerged that parents had rented the facility and contracted a bus company to safely deliver high school students to and from the party, the Alliance on Underage Drinking (ALOUD) started the “Parents Who Host, Lose the Most” campaign, which informs parents about health, safety and legal ramifications of serving alcohol to underage individuals.[3]

In late 2004, Simon & Schuster published young adult author Francine Pascal’s The Ruling Class, a teen drama set at Highland Park High School. The school’s newspaper The Bagpipe published community reactions to the book, and online reviews are mixed.[4]

In late 2005, The Dallas Morning News published a story about the Friday of Highland Park’s homecoming spirit week, on which several seniors dressed as thugs, Mexicans, maids and other caricatures of racial minorities. Some pointed to this as support for the general perception of Highland Park High School and the Park Cities as a “bubble” (as the area is known in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex). The article ignited a storm of letter-writing and editorializing to and in the Morning News. Soon after the article was published, two swastikas were spray-painted on a sign in front of the school.

In 2005 and 2006, Highland Park students received a multitude of state and national awards, and established several new records in Texas.[5] The UIL Science Team, under the leadership of AP Chemistry teacher Wenzen Chuang, won state for the second time in the history of the high school. The Bagpipe newspaper received the Gold Crown Award for excellence in journalism in 2005 and later that year was one of 15 high schools in the country to win an NSPA Pacemaker. The same year, the school’s yearbook, The Highlander, was chosen as a finalist for the NSPA Pacemaker award and Highland Park Television was chosen as a finalist for the NSPA Broadcast Pacemaker; Highland Park Television won the award the following year. The Bagpipe received a second Gold Crown Award in 2011, for the previous year’s newspaper. In the winter of 2012 and the early spring of 2013, numerous bomb threats were found across the campus. Students and faculty were released early three times, and eventually the FBI was called in. An arrest was made in April of 2013, and the unidentified individual is being prosecuted by Highland Park ISD and the cities of Highland Park, University Park, and Dallas.

Highland Park High School has been named a National Blue Ribbon School on two occasions, in 1984-85 [6] and again in 2007.[7]


In 2005, Sports Illustrated listed them as the best sports program in the state of Texas (16th in the US).[8]

The Highland Park Girls’ Swimming and Diving team holds the record in all of UIL history for ten consecutive state titles.

The Highland Park Tennis Team has won 15 state titles, and has not lost a single match since the start of the 2008 season. Their current winning streak is at 129 consecutive matches, which includes 6 consecutive state titles. They are consistently a tennis powerhouse.

As of 2007, Highland Park Scots football teams have made a state-record 49 playoff appearances. Since 1944, they have had six state finals appearances. Coached by Rusty Russell (1942–45) and led by Doak Walker and Bobby Layne, the Scots made the final consecutive times in 1944 and 1945. After losing 20-7 to Port Arthur in 1944, Highland Park battled Waco to a 7-7 tie in front of a record 45,790 crowd at the Cotton Bowl.[9] In 1947, Highland Park lost the state final 22-13 to San Antonio Brackenridge, while in 1957 they defeated Port Arthur 21-9 under the guidance of Thurman Jones. In 2005 Matthew Stafford led Highland Park to an undefeated season and a 59-0 victory over Marshall for the 4A Division I state championship. After a highly successful college career at the University of Georgia he was drafted first overall by the Detroit Lions at the 2009 NFL Draft.

Highland Park was picked second in the preseason rankings in the Southeast, according to Inside Lacrosse, and has won two consecutive state championships, both times defeating local rival St. Mark’s School. They have now won three consecutive state titles and 5 of the last seven years.

The Highland Park football team is currently coached by Randy Allen, who holds a 244-69-6 record as of 2006, placing him 19th on the Texas All-Time Coaching Records Ranking. On August 30, 2008, the Highland Park football program became the first Texas high school football team to win 700 games with a win over Red Oak High School.

In 2005, Allen guided the Scots to a 59-0 rout over Marshall, the largest margin-of-victory ever in a UIL 11-man state championship football game. This also produced the first-ever undefeated season in the state of Texas.[citation needed] (The 1945 team was undefeated but tied by Waco High School in the state championship game.) [Editing note: Please check on Abilene High School’s record of 49 straight wins 1954-1957 (which must have included undefeated championship seasons). In the Cotton Bowl in the 1957 state semi-final game, Abilene tied the Scots 20-20, and the Scots advanced on more possessions within the opponents’ 20-yard line and went on to beat Port Arthur 21-9 in the championship game. Also, Abilene High’s 1956 yearbook in shows an undefeated 1955 championship season. This editing does not diminish the achievements of Scot championship teams.]

In 2007, the Scots went undefeated into the state final against Austin Lake Travis, but lost 36-34.

State Titles

Baseball – [10]
Girls Cross Country – [11]
1981(5A), 1982(5A), 1988(4A), 1989(4A), 1992(4A), 1997(4A), 1998(4A), 1999(4A), 2001(4A), 2002(4A), 2004(4A), 2010(4A), 2011(4A), 2012(4A)
Football – [12]
1945(All)^, 1957(4A), 2005(4A)
Boys Golf – [13]
1950(2A), 1951(2A), 1977(4A), 1989(4A), 1990(4A), 1991(4A), 1992(4A), 1993(4A), 2001(4A), 2002(4A), 2003(4A), 2005(4A), 2006(4A), 2008(4A), 2010(4A)
Girls Golf – [14]
1998(4A), 1999(4A), 2000(4A), 2008(4A)
Girls Soccer – [15]
1994(All), 1996(All), 2000(4A), 2002(4A), 2012(4A)
Boys Swimming – [16]
Girls Swimming – [17]
2001(4A), 2002(4A), 2003(4A), 2004(4A), 2005(4A), 2006(4A), 2007(4A), 2008(4A), 2009(4A), 2010(4A)
Team Tennis – [18]
1989(4A), 1990(4A), 1991(4A), 1997(4A), 2001(4A), 2003(4A), 2004(4A), 2005(4A), 2006(4A), 2008(4A), 2009(4A), 2010(4A), 2011(4A), 2012(4A), 2013(4A)
Boys Track – [19]
Boys Wrestling – [20]
1999(All), 2000(All), 2003(All), 2005(All), 2006(All)
State Runner Ups: Baseball – 1951(All), 1954(All), 1956(All), 1997(4A); Boys Basketball – 1998(4A); Football – 1944(2A), 1947(2A), 2007(4A); Boys Soccer – 1987(All); Girls Soccer – 2006(4A), 2013 (4A); Team Tennis – 1988(4A), 1993(4A), 1994(4A), 1998(4A), 2000(4A), 2002(4A), 2007(4A); Volleyball – 2003(4A), 2008(4A); Boys Wrestling – 2002(All), 2004(All).

Highland Park holds the UIL record for most athletic state titles by one school – 70 (in all classes).

Highland Park was ranked as 15th in Newsweek’s list of the top high schools in the United States,[21] based on the Challenge Index by Jay Mathews. The Challenge Index ranks schools by the number of AP and IB tests taken by students at a school in 2008 divided by the number of graduating seniors. It was ranked 13th in 2002’s version of the index. In 2012, Highland Park was ranked 8th out of the top 10 high schools in North Texas by Children at Risk, a research and advocacy institute dedicated to helping children.

It is currently classified as a Conference 4A high school by the University Interscholastic League. A common joke among Texas school athletic directors is that when the UIL realigns in even numbered years, the 4A-5A cutoff is always defined as “Highland Park plus two.” Despite being an exaggeration as of 2008, Highland Park remains among the larger 4A schools in Texas. The average class size is 30 students per teacher, with about 550 students in a grade.

Highland Park’s Latin League is hosting the 2008-2009 Texas State Junior Latin League Convention at Southern Methodist University. The Highland Park chapter has fostered executive officers Jordan Vincent (07-08 Parliamentarian) and current TSJCL President Abraham Hashmi.

In 1995, the first Highland Park Literary Festival began as a collaboration between interested parents and the English Department. The event has become an annual festival where HPHS students have enjoyed meeting, working with, and learning from distinguished writers, including George Plimpton, Doug Wright, Michael Chabon, Marion Winik, Scott Simon, Tim O’Brien, Russell Banks, Anchee Min, Billy Collins, and Tobias Wolff.[22]

At the heart of the festival are almost 100 workshops between students and accomplished novelists, journalists, poets, songwriters, and playwrights. Also, at a student-run open-mic night, students perform their own works. Finally, the festival offers an evening of readings and conversation with a keynote speaker that is free and open to the public.

The Highland Park Literary Festival gratefully acknowledges the support of La Fiesta de las Seis Banderas, HP Arts, the Highland Park High School PTA, and generous individual donors.