Historical Accuracy -- Setting Certain Facts Straight
Although I haven't seen the film--as a native San Antonian, I will make it a point to do so in the near future. Just wanted to take the opportunity to get a few historical details correct: First, one commenter states "As far as I know, there has never been a San Antonio High School . . .". As a matter of fact, there was a school by the name of San Antonio High School--it was the very first public secondary school in the city opening in 1879 (with one teacher by the name of F. M. Halbedl; its first graduating class (composed of three girls) was in February 1882). In 1917, this school's name was changed to Main Avenue High School; in 1932, it became San Antonio Vocational and Technical High School (the same year that Thomas Jefferson High was built); in 1961, it became Louis W. Fox Vocational and Technical High School. More recently (in 1968), the name was changed to Louis W. Fox Academic and Technical High School. San Antonians usually just refer to the school as "Fox Tech." The former San Antonio High School, however, does not appear to be the school set in "High School" the movie. That credit would seem to go to Thomas Jefferson High School which opened in 1932 in San Antonio.
Second, another commenter states that "Thomas Jefferson High School was featured in Life Magazine as the nations first million dollar high school." More precisely, it was the March 7, 1938, edition of Life with a cover featuring two of the Lassos--described in the magazine "as a corps of 150 . . . girls, nattily turned out in cowgirl outfits, who travel all over the state." The Lassos are "the school's special pride" and are "the pick of the student body." They "can twirl ropes like experts and spell out the "T.J." of Thomas Jeffrson High." Jefferson High was in fact the first school in the entire country to cost more than $1 million to build--a figure which ranges from $1.4 to $1.5 million depending on what source you're using. Pretty impressive price tag and particularly expensive considering that the school was built during the Great Depression.
Third, another commenter states that "The voting into the Lassos is questionable and definitely too much like sorority pledging to be from a high school." Maybe . . . but you're probably not right because you're foisting too much of your contemporary attitudes and experiences that may simply not apply. The Lassos were formed by a 1919 graduate of Main Avenue High School by the name of Constance Douglas (she died in 2003 at the ripe old age of 101). She went back to teach at Main Avenue after college and when Jefferson High was built in 1932, she left to serve as a faculty member at this new campus. Douglas is credited for forming the Lassos. Anyway, Jefferson was intended to be an elite high school (read: primarily white)--there was considerable white flight to the surrounding northern areas of the city once this school was completed. Anyway, the Life article notes: "(Jefferson) has clubs which the school authorities recognize and fraternities and sororities which they don't." It continues: "This school on the Texas prairies is, in fact, a miniature of the great State universities of the West." By 1938, "more than 60 percent of the students will go on to college and, meanwhile, they ape college manners." Once again, though I haven't seen the movie, the sorority pledge rites were probably right on point--especially since this movie was made only two years after the Life magazine article was published and the students during this period seemed to take their high school career pretty seriously. Given the status of the Lassos during the period, I would venture to guess that being the "pick of the student body" involved all sorts of initiations.
Fourth, a final commenter states: "The location for the filming is the famous San Antonio High School." Once again, San Antonio High School no longer technically exist in 1940, the year "High School" came out. That school's new name was Main Avenue High School (due to a name change in 1917). The high school that you're thinking about, Jefferson High School, was built in 1932. Yes, it still exists and the building was designed by a local San Antonio architect by the name of Carleton Adams. I have read that Jefferson High was considered for some time the most beautiful high school in the U.S.--which doesn't surprise me especially given the price tag for its construction. It remains a beautiful building although it is showing its age due, in no small part, to demographic shifts of the San Antonio population over the last 40 years.
Does anyone have an idea where I can get a copy of this film?
Vincent A. Lazaro
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