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Dobie High School celebrates 50 years

Excitement is brewing at J. Frank Dobie High School, as students, staff, alumni, current and former administrators prepare for the school’s 50th anniversary celebration, set to take place Thursday, Sept. 13, at 6:30 p.m.

The celebration will start with a student showcase in the auditorium, followed by a ceremony and then a reception in the cafeteria. During the ceremony, attendees will have the opportunity to hear reflections from former principals, Frank Braden, who served from 1979 -1986; Jerry Speer, 1986-2000; Steve Jamail, 2000-2012; and the school’s current leader, Franklin Moses, who has served since 2012.

“Not only are our past principals speaking, but over 30 current Dobie programs and clubs will show off their awards, accolades and what their programs look like now in 2018,” Moses said. “It is going to be great night of reminiscing and recognizing 50 years of tradition and excellence.”

A history of excellence
Dobie High School was one of the final school communities to be established in the Pasadena Independent School District. After World War II, families from Pasadena moved to the south-southeast region of the Houston area (along South Belt) to find jobs in the petrochemical and aerospace industries. By 1960, a major boom on the far southeast side of Houston occurred, and it became evident that the volume of residents would grow, and more schools were needed to accommodate that growth.

Several elementary schools were the first to be built in the South Belt area, and it became apparent that these students would eventually need a high school. At the time, the Pasadena ISD Board of Trustees approved the Dobie High building project, which would eventually open its doors in 1968.
Dobie’s old campus was formerly located on Beamer where Beverly Hills Intermediate now resides. The school opened to 984 students (freshmen, sophomores and juniors), with only 34 classrooms, two gyms and 23 industrial, vocational commercial rooms. There were also various practice halls for drama, speech, band, orchestra and choir.

Under their leadership
With former Principal Allen Sory (deceased) at the helm, a tradition of excellence for the Longhorns had begun, with Frank Braden next in line to carry the torch.

During Sory’s tenure, Dobie’s first graduating class of six walked through commencement in December 1969. By second semester, 226 students received their diplomas from Sory.

Tim Georg, Class of 1970 and the school’s first Mr. J. Frank Dobie, remembers the school in its original form – built without any windows.

“There was a student who thought that if he could sabotage the A/C unit, then we didn’t have to have school,” Georg said. “Well, that didn’t work. We didn’t have windows, so we were hot and miserable.”

Georg was a high school standout. During his time on the Dobie varsity football team, Georg played as a center and a linebacker. He was instrumental in the team winning the first varsity game against Jeff Davis High School, 10-7.

While most of his memories are tucked away at the old facility, he’s glad that the school is still around.

“I hear stories about schools closing after a while, but to know that it is still here after 50 years is amazing,” Georg said.

More than just a game
Jim Sawyer, who was captain of the football team, remembers the big bonfires that attracted community members throughout the South Belt area.

“It almost felt as big as [a Texas] A&M bonfire,” Sawyer said. “Everybody brought their own wood, and my classmates would build it.”

In fact, football was how 1973 classmates Jim and Gail Sawyer met. The couple met when they were freshmen during a Dobie vs. South Houston High School football game, which was the last game of the season. Little did he realize back then, he would end up marrying his high school sweetheart.

Looking back, Jim, who taught in the Pasadena ISD for 40 years, 25 at South Houston and 15 at Dobie, said the offices may look different and the location may have changed, but the people are still Dobie proud.

“One of the most amazing things about Dobie is that every principal left off where the new one started,” Sawyer said. “Dobie excels at everything. Expectations have always been high, and everyone works hard to reach that standard of excellence.”

Alumni and former administrators attribute Dobie’s 50-year milestone, in part, to the unique geographical location of the school.

Former Dobie Principal Jerry Speer, Frank Braden’s successor, said the location played a role in creating a close-knit community.

“It almost separated us from the rest of the school district to where we thought of ourselves as a Dobie district,” Speer said. “We only had two campuses that feed into our school at the time, and they brought us some great students.”

During his tenure, the academic decathlon won the state and national titles both in 1992 and 1996. Dobie’s Latin club team also had its share of success by claiming the state title in its competitions nearly 20 times since 1981.

The successes at Dobie continued to roll in, but he did not want all the credit.

“It started back with Sory, and he just passed it on to Frank Braden,” Speer said. “The two predecessors set the foundation for Dobie to be a great school. All I had to do was float.”

By the late 1990s, the old Dobie campus had become overcrowded and residents were still moving in, so a new campus proposal was forged to provide adequate space for new generations of Dobie students. In the fall of 2003, with an enrollment of 2,699, Dobie opened the doors to its new campus on Blackhawk.

The principal’s torch found its way to Steve Jamail, a former teacher, coach and assistant principal at Dobie, who facilitated the move to the new campus facility.

Even though the building was left behind, they still worked hard to keep the Longhorn pride strong.

“We worked as a team when the new Dobie was built,” Jamail said. “We had input from a lot of folks to make it feel like home, with the branding and pictures from the past put up on the walls. We talked a lot about the spirit of Dobie pride and what did that mean and made sure that we all continued to push the message to students.”

Jamail believes the 50th celebration is a major accomplishment that is symbolic of the community it serves.

“I think because of the changes in principals in that period of time, it kept the tradition and feeling of the Dobie community strong. I look back and run into students, and I can tell that they had a good experience,” Jamail said. “I wouldn’t change my experience being at Dobie High School for anything in the world.”

Morman joins tank farm battle

The fate of the proposed construction of a new 58-tank crude oil storage facility between I-45 and Highway 3, just north of FM-2351, is still unknown, as additional community leaders are speaking out against the development.

“I strongly oppose the proposed tank farm near Ellington and have contacted the Harris County Attorney’s Office to discuss our legal options moving forward,” said Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Jack Morman. “I will also be working closely with other elected officials and neighborhood groups to stop this unwanted facility. I will keep you posted on my progress.”

Morman’s Democratic challenger Adrian Garcia has also voiced his opposition to the project.

The pair are the latest on a growing list of opponents that includes the Leader, the South Belt-Ellington Chamber of Commerce, the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership (BAHEP), Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, City Council Member Dave Martin and City Council Member Dwight Boykins.


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