A History of the West Lamar School
By Claude Caffee
Four county schools were consolidated to form what was to become known as West Lamar, which would serve the western part of Lamar County from 1949 until its closing in 1985. Students from Petty, Pleasant Hill, Brookston, Forest Hill, and Tigertown consolated to West Lamar. Board Members came from the different communities: Jim Bonham, Brookston; Harry Craig, Brookston; W.E. Umberson, Pleasant Hill; John Golden, Ballinger; and Hicks Graves, Petty. By the time that West Lamar had opened, students from Brookston had been attending the school in Petty, and perhaps other districts nearby. In 1948, when West Lamar formerly opened for the 1948-49 school year, only high school students attended the new building, with the elementary school students moving to the new location in the following years. During its first year, West Lamar’s administrative offices were located at Petty, with six faculty members serving at high school level; these six individuals had multiple assignments, and served a student body which consisted of twenty seniors, fourteen juniors, 27 sophomores, and twenty freshmen.
West Lamar’s first graduating class consisted of the following students: Billie Morrison, Arlen Morris, Billie Knudson, L.C.
Kilpatrick, Joy Jones, Betty Jordan, Jo Marie Jone, Lorrine Garrison, Helen Bonham, Willie Dee Ausmus, Laura Ann Adams, Doyle Pearson, Lynn Rhodes, Donald Richey, Lillie May Shields, Charles Sivley, J.W. Stone, Daisy Taylor, and Edmon
School colors were gold and blue, and were emphasized in the school’s Alma Mater, which was as follows:
“Dear West Lamar High, You fill our hearts with pride, Loyal and true, We’ll all stand by you, Side by side.
You’re our Alma Mater, And guiding star, Our colors gold and blue, Symbolize you, West Lamar.” The Leopard
was the school’s mascot. West Lamar had no football teams, but opportunities were ample in basketball and baseball, and
West Lamar, in its conference, stood proud and tall in these sports. Music and artistic opportunities were provided by Miss Opal Horton, who travelled the county putting together musical variety-type programming throughout the year.
The six high school faculty members who provided instruction in the 1948-49 academic school year included Cooper Carter, superintendent, who also taught English, general math and was freshmen class sponsor and David Brooks, principal, who taught civics, algebra, was basketball coach, and junior class sponsor. Other faculty members that first year were Myrtle Antoine, English, business, and history teacher, and served as yearbook sponsor; Gerald Kennedy taught agriculture and was FFA and senior class sponsor; Ruth Galdin taught science and home economics, and was co-sponsor for the senior class; and Mildred Siddle taught typing, shorthand, bookkeeping and English and sponsored the sophomore class.
Elementary school students remained in their community schools and were instructed by the following faculty members: Petty: Margaret Aubrey, eighth grade; Hazel Gilliam, fourth and fifth grades; Ora Mae Kilpatrick, first grade; Dorothy Cunningham, second and third grades; Forest Hill: Loren Lambert, first, second, third and fourth grades; Thelma Oldam, fifth, sixth, and seventh grades; Pleasant Hill: Joyce Carey, fourth, fifth and sixth grades; Katie Bell Chappell, first, second and third grades; and Tigertown: Julie Hostelttler, one through sixth grades.
West Lamar’s history would include the names and faces of many faculty members, administrators, support staff, nurses, music teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, coaches, parents, and guests, and the students who walked its hallowed halls were
all the better for having been there for this experience. In the Forward of the 1949 Yearbook is written, “As through the pages of this book you turn, let that Spirit within you burn. Think again of the happiness of days gone by in W.L.H.S. Work and
play, we have tried to portray Here within these pages live memories that will never die.
Today, left standing alongside Hwy 82, between Petty and Paris, are two remaining structure that was the school’s gym and the structure later built to house the elementary school. The remains of the high school building were long ago torn down, and
with it’s having been demolished, much of the memorabilia that documented many student activities was removed or thrown away; however, the most important thing remaining is as alive and well today as in the heyday of the school’s existence, and that lies within the hearts and character of West Lamar’s former students; their lives were forever changed and impacted in incalculable ways, and because of a safe, loving and caring environment established in this rural educational center of learning, they were prepared to cope with life’s challenges by educators who knew how to balance their love for teaching and love for students, while establishing clearly defined boundaries within which students were expected to operate and did.
Today, former students, friends and family, and generations of family members to come can now view some of what is left of West Lamar’s history through the eyes of the dedicated students who year-after-year painstakenly labored to produce, with support of faculty, the annual Yearbook—from 1949-1985. Special thanks goes to Mr. Lynn Patterson for his efforts to gather and maintain the yearbooks over the years, and for his willingness to loan the documents to the Honey Grove Preservation League for digitizing to place on the website.
West Lamar Yearbooks: 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985