History of Livingston ISD
Architect’s drawing of the “Alamo” schoolhouse constructed in 1910.
The First Schools
Livingston’s long history of public education began in 1849 with the free academy opened by the Trinity Masonic Lodge No. 14, A.F. & A.M. The old Masonic Lodge was located on the southwest corner of Washington and Houston streets. The Livingston Graded School, built on Jackson Avenue, replaced it in 1888. It had an enrollment of 190 students in 1903 was expanded in 1906 to include high school grades so Livingston students could graduate. Principal J. F. Stevens and six other teachers ran the school. In 1908, the school awarded diplomas to its first graduates: Myra Green (née Lewis), Brown K. Meece, and Ralph Feagin.
On October 26, 1910, under the administration of county superintendent R. H. Jones and superintendent E. P. Gaines, a new two-story brick high school opened. It contained all of the grades in the school system and came at a cost of $25,000, to be paid off over 40 years. It was located at the corner of Jackson and Milam streets and, due to its “old mission style” architecture, was commonly referred to as the Alamo. Enrollment in December 1910 reached 292 students.
The “Alamo” was torn down in 1981 to make way for newer campuses. The Polk County Enterprise reported that a time capsule had been placed within the cornerstone when the Alamo was built, containing “a Bible, bylaws of the [Masonic] lodge, lists of members and officials, a copy of the newspaper, a school catalog and a list of local businessmen,” but the capsule was lost. Another time capsule exists in Pine Ridge Elementary behind the cornerstone plaque, placed there in 1988 by Livingston’s Trinity Lodge No. 14.
Livingston’s first grade class of 1925-1926 in front of
The old school building was divided and part of it was hauled away to become the new African-American school until the opening of the Dunbar School in 1936. Two years later, the Dunbar schoolhouse suffered massive damage from a fire, and classes had to be held in churches for the remainder of the school year. The repaired building, complete with a new 200-seat auditorium and electric lights, reopened in 1939.
The Dunbar Leopards took six state championships: (1A-PVIL) 1953, 1954, 1957, 1958, and runner-up in 1959 in football; (all schools in one division) 1939, and (1A-PVIL) runner-up in 1952 in basketball.
Livingston schools began the process of desegregation in 1965 and were fully desegrated by 1969. LISD had an enrollment of 1,765 students in 1965, including Dunbar’s combined high school and elementary department enrollment of 606 students. Dunbar students or their parents were allowed to choose which school the student would attend, and school teachers and staff were strictly not permitted to influence or penalize this decision. In 1965, 30 students transferred from Dunbar, while most opted to remain there for the time being. The following year, 90 more students transferred.
With the Dunbar campus set to be repurposed into a vocational and remedial education facility, the school board needed to find a way to accommodate the large influx of students in 1967. The answer was a new junior high school – the building that is now Timber Creek Elementary – constructed on 15 acres between Calhoun St. and Willis St.
A Growing District
As the elementary school neared full capacity in 1980, the school board considered consolidating Livingston and Goodrich school districts, but the notion was soundly crushed by voters in both districts. A new elementary school was constructed in 1984 at 223 North Willis; in 1988, it became the junior high school.
In 1995, under Superintendent Ron Preston, voters rejected a $30 million bond for a new high school and elementary school, proposed as a solution to LISD’s overcrowding problem. By 2000, the problem was addressed with the addition of a new junior high, and renovation and expansion of the district’s two elementary schools. The elementary schools were renamed to Pine Ridge and Timber Creek when they reopened. The old junior high building was torn down in 2001 and the construction of a new, expanded intermediate school began on the same site.
In fall of 2015 we started our Chromebook 1-to-1 initiative, putting a Chromebook into the hands of each student in 4th – 12th grades. The program was successfully implemented within five months and over 3,500 Chromebooks were assigned to students. High school and junior high students check out Chromebooks in the first week of school and return them at the end of the school year, while intermediate students leave their Chromebooks in the classroom and only take them home under special circumstances. High school students learned to repair Chromebooks and work on other technology projects through the new “Chrome Dome” class started in 2016, partnered with Hewlett-Packard in Houston and Livcom in Livingston. A second Chrome Dome was started at the junior high in the following spring.
As of 2017, the school enrolled in a federal program that allows free breakfast and lunch at every campus for every student. Additional à la carte items are still available at the junior high and high school.
Livingston Independent School District celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2008. It has an enrollment of 4,039 students and is now home to seven campuses, listed below.
Pine Ridge Elementary
1200 Mill Ridge Dr.
Campus history: Livingston Primary School (1988-2001), Pine Ridge Elementary (2001-present)
Grades: Pre-K – 3rd
Pine Ridge Elementary is located on the campus that was originally constructed as Livingston Primary School. The 78,000 sq.ft. primary school was built with part of a $3.5 million bond approved by voters in 1986, and construction finished in 1988. It incorporated a cornerstone from the old “Alamo” schoolhouse, donated by Livingston’s Historical Society. A dedication ceremony was held on May 21, 1988. The library was named after Louise Seale, primary school educator for 32 years.
Because of the increasing number of students in primary grades, another elementary school campus was built in 2001 to take on half of the students and was named Timber Creek, while Livingston Primary School was renamed to Pine Ridge. The primary school was originally a Pre-K – 2nd grade school and became a K–4 school upon the 2001 reopening, as did Timber Creek. Pre-K classes were later added, and 4th grade was moved to the intermediate school.
Pine Ridge and its predecessor were led by Principal Danny Tinney, an LISD principal for 27 years. He was the first inductee of the LISD Apple Corps, a program honoring the district’s finest employees. Upon his retirement in 2005, the gymnasium was named for him.
Cedar Grove Elementary
819 West Church St.
Campus history: Livingston Intermediate School (1984-2014), Cedar Grove Elementary (2014-present)
Grades: Pre-K – 3rd
Cedar Grove Elementary is one of the district’s three elementary schools. Until 2014, the campus was home to Livingston Intermediate School, which has now moved to the campus on Lions Avenue.
In the 1950s the site was owned by the Hale-Sellars American Legion Post No. 312 as a baseball field. LISD later owned it and used it as a practice field before it was chosen as the location for a new intermediate school in 1983. The district trustees accepted a $540,384 bid to construct the school, which would relieve overcrowding in the elementary and junior high schools. Defee Construction Company finished constructing the building in 1984.
Renovations in 2002 included the tearing down of the main building and administration offices, and rebuilding of new facilities. The school received new administration, attendance, and counseling offices, a nurse’s clinic, a choral music room, teachers’ lounge and work areas, a library/media center, and a computer lab. Many other areas were remodeled, including the existing band hall, the science building, and the gymnasium.
Campuses shifted in 2012, moving the intermediate grades to the campus on Lions Avenue. The school opened in the fall of 2014 as Cedar Grove Elementary, welcoming about 220 students in Pre-K through first grade.
Timber Creek Elementary
701 N. Willis
Campus history: Livingston Junior High/Intermediate School (1968-1977), Livingston Elementary School (1977-2001), Timber Creek Elementary (2001-present)
Grades: Pre-K – 3rd
The Timber Creek Elementary campus was formerly home to Livingston Intermediate School, established 1968. In 1977, district-wide renovations more than doubled the school’s capacity, and also awarded it a new cafeteria and dining hall. LISD had a total district enrollment of 1,873 students at the time.
It was later known as Livingston Elementary School before it was renovated in 2001. The elementary school housed 3rd – 4th grades. It reopened with an additional eight classrooms and was renamed to Timber Creek Elementary, housing K – 4th grades, as well as Pre-K later. Fourth grade has since been moved to the intermediate school.
Timber Creek is now the district’s oldest school campus still in operation.
Livingston Intermediate School
#1 Lions Ave.
Campus history: Livingston High School (1977-2012), Livingston Intermediate School (2012-present)
Grades: 4th – 5th
Livingston Intermediate School is currently on the campus of what was Livingston High School until 2012.
Voters in 1975 voted in favor of a $6 million bond issue for district-wide renovations and a new high school. Completed in 1977, the high school was designed for a capacity of 1,000 students and with the forethought that additional wings could be added as enrollment increased. It featured a 500-seat cafeteria, a 1000-seat auditorium, and a new resource center. The school board named the auditorium after Florence Crosby, a beloved teacher at Livingston High School for 17 years who died on June 11, 1977. A nurse’s clinic was also added to the school system at the time.
A series of maintenance projects in 1980 included a new practice field and fieldhouse, the latter of which was completed late in the year.
After renovations in 2012, the intermediate grades moved from North Willis to Lions Avenue. This year we have 315 fourth graders and 330 fifth graders.
Livingston Junior High School
1801 US 59 Loop North
Campus history: Livingston Junior High School (2000-present)
Grades: 6th – 8th
A $14 million bond issue for a new junior high finally passed in 1997 after similar plans failed to appeal to voters in 1996, as well as plans for a new high school and elementary school in the previous year. The decision was a welcome answer to the district’s overcrowding problem, and in 1998 Livingston workers broke ground to begin building the school that would accommodate 1,200 students. Construction was overseen by J. E. Kingham Construction and the architecture firm Pfluger and Associates. The total cost came to $19 million.
A representative from the state fire marshal’s office inspected the building and found that it followed the highest safety standards. The state fire inspector stated the building could even serve as a model to other districts.
After the school was completed in 2000, work continued for another year on a new eight-lane track at the junior high site, replacing the old outdated track that had been built in the 1930s at Lions Stadium. LISD acquired funding for the new track with the signing of a 10-year contract with Coca-Cola in 1999.
A dedication ceremony was held on September 17, 2000, to welcome the new junior high’s approx. 950 students and 100 teachers. At the time, the school contained 7th, 8th, and 9th grades, but grades have since been shifted to place 6th grade at the junior high and 9th grade at the high school.
Livingston High School
400 FM 350 South
Campus history: Livingston High School (2011-present)
Grades: 9th – 12th
On May 10, 2008, LISD voters voted overwhelmingly in favor of a $64 million bond to fund the construction of a new high school campus. The former campus on Lions Avenue had become outdated for the expanding high school population, requiring 26 portable buildings and seven floating teachers to accommodate them and offering no Career and Technical Education (CTE) facilities. A previous bond issue for the construction of a new high school had been defeated, which was costing taxpayers an additional 12% in inflated construction costs for each delayed year (a $2 million cost increase per year) as estimated by school board secretary Ben Ogletree III.
The design and construction of the new high school were handled by Claycomb Associates, Architects. It was built on 72 acres of land that were purchased for $15,500 per acre in March 2008, prior to the bond election. The grand opening for the high school was held on August 20, 2011. The move to FM 350 allowed the former high school campus to become the new home to Livingston Intermediate School.
The high school campus covers 302,463 sq.ft., with 2000 sq.ft. devoted to classroom and lab areas. The band hall, complete with a rehearsal room, practice rooms, and instrument storage space, covers 3,500 sq.ft., while the drama department received a 2,500 sq.ft. black box theater.
A gymnasium for basketball and volleyball was built to seat 1,800 spectators, along with a 300-seat practice gym. For 13 years, tennis students had to be bused to Matthews Street Park every day for practice, and wait their turn until other finished; now they have an eight-court tennis complex on campus, finished in 2014. In 2016, the district purchased the Texas Slam facility, also known as the Livingston ISD Baseball-Softball Complex, located behind the hospital. It has two fields where boys’ and girls’ teams can host games at the same time, and indoor battling cages where athletes can practice during bad weather.
9,600 sq.ft. were allotted for the administration, counseling, and nurse’s offices. A 14,000 sq.ft. dining area was designed to seat 550 students at a time, and with more serving lines and meal options available to reduce the waiting time.
CTE facilities included a lab for building trades, a welding shop, an electrical and plumbing lab and classroom, a nursing lab and classroom, Criminal Justice, and ROTC. Plans for the new media center contained space for library stacks and research technology covering 11,210 sq.ft., as well as a distance learning/tutorial/conference area covering 900 sq.ft.
The new structure incorporated plans to make the school a hurricane relief center, with a hurricane-resistant design built on pier and beam. All support, athletic, and core areas were linked to a natural gas-powered generator. It was designed to minimize the school’s environmental footprint, with light-colored roofing to reduce heat and overall utility costs, and use of regional and recycled materials.
The school also features drought-resistant plants and an on-campus well to provide water for irrigation and the agricultural, food, and natural resources programs. There is a greenhouse and tanks of American water-willows that are maintained by the students. The water-willows are transplanted into Lake Livingston with the Lake Livingston Friends of the Reservoir volunteers as part of the “Bringing Lake Livingston Back to Life” project. Livingston High School has been participating in the ten-year program since 2014. Our horticulture students were able to take part in the most recent planting with former First Lady Laura Bush at Wolf Creek Park in September 2017.
LHS was recognized by the 2012 Exhibit of School Architecture committee for excellence in Process of Planning and Design. The school now has an enrollment of 1,076 students. The Class of 2017 graduated 214 students. The campus also houses Livingston High School Academy, an alternative school for students who have challenges in getting their diploma. The academy graduated an additional 75 students in the LHS graduation ceremony.
Through the Dual Credit Program, LHS students have the opportunity to take English, Government, History, and Math from Angelina College while earning high school credit at the same time. The courses are offered at no cost to the students. Last year, 160 LHS students attended Angelina College. Our current freshmen can potentially earn 36 hours of college credit. This could save their families $22,000 in tuition. A new initiative just passed by the school board will allow next year’s incoming 9th graders the opportunity to take 60 college hours by the time they graduate high school.
A new football field, stadium, track, and gymnasium were built for the high school in 1937. The stadium on West Noblitt Street is still in use today.