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School History

The school opened as Lowell Junior High School at its present site in 1958. In keeping with the tradition of naming the junior high schools after American writers, the school was named in honor of James Russell Lowell.

James Russell Lowell (February 22, 1819 – August 12, 1891) was an American Romantic poet, critic, editor, and diplomat. He is associated with the Fireside Poets, a group of New England writers who were among the first American poets that rivaled the popularity of British poets. These writers usually used conventional forms and meters in their poetry, making them suitable for families entertaining at their fireside.

In 1952 the Board of Education learned that approximately 23 acres of land owned by the Federal Government and located in he Southwestern part of the district was to be declared surplus. A study made revealed that there would be a definite need for a junior high school in this general vicinity and that the possibility a high school and elementary school would also be needed. As a result of this information, application was made by the Board of Education for the school site and the application was approved by officials of the Federal Government. On June 9, 1952, the school site was officially transferred to the San Antonio Independent School District.

A survey made by the Citizens Committee in May, 1955 showed that the time was near when at least a junior high school and an elementary school would be required on what had become known as the Kelly Trailer Court Site and recommendations were made to include funds for those schools in the bonds to be voted on during the same month. The bond issue passed and funds were made available for constructing a new junior high school.

On February 8, 1956, the Board of Education passed a resolution authorizing the supervising architects, Phelps & Dewees & Simmons, to proceed with preliminary plans for twelve hundred capacity junior high school and, also authorizing them to designate an executive architect. Work on preliminary plans started immediately and the architectural firm of Harvey P. Smith was designated to draw the final plans and write necessary specifications.

Specifications for the new school, which by now had been named James Russell Lowell, included the following:

23 standard classrooms
1 food laboratory
1 sewing machine
1 natural science laboratory
1 general science laboratory
1 wood shop
1 general metal shop
1 typing room
1 art room
1 drafting room
1 music room with store rooms
1 library with work room and textbook storage adjoining
1 auditorium for 800
1 cafeteria
1 gymnasium with shower and dressing rooms for girls and boys
1 administrative unit
toilets and other auxiliary rooms

Bids were opened on May 21, 1957; G.W. Mitchell Construction Company was the low bidder with a bid of $837, 908.00. The Board of Education awarded the contract on May 22, 1957. Construction was completed and the building was accepted July 16, 1958. The total cost of the building, including the fees of the architects and engineers but not all of the equipment, was $888,182. 48. The completed building had a total of 78,906 square feet in it.

The new junior high school in San Antonio Independent School District was opened in September of 1958. Mr. Thomas B. Portwood was superintendent and Mr. Oscar E. Miller, assistant superintendent. The staff of the school included 23 junior high teachers with Mr. P.Y. Gilbreath as principal, serving for a period of six years. Enrollment in the junior school was 665 in grades one through nine. Dedication exercises were held for Lowell on November 18, 1958.

Lowell's school colors are blue and gold and the school mascot is the falcon.

Later, in 1962, the students in grades one through six transferred to Kelly Elementary School when it opened.

In the fall of 1969 Lowell lost its ninth graders and for one year, only seventh and eighth grade students were enrolled. The next year Lowell picked up sixth grade, becoming the second San Antonio school to become a middle school.

Enrollment peaked in the school year 1974-75 with a total of 1207 students. Since that time there has been a slight decline each year. Presently the enrollment is 411 students.

An additional gymnasium was constructed in 1974. During 1974-75, six portable buildings with eleven classrooms were put on the campus. The library was doubled in size. Lowell's campus was the largest of the middle schools with a total of 18 acres.

Athletic awards, first and second place in the district and city championship total over 45. Academic awards number over 300. A wealth of information is available in scrapbooks maintained by the school library and the PTA. Lowell can be proud of its past achievements in all areas of endeavor.


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