I am interviewing my mother who witnessed first hand our consolidation of the two school districts. Del Rio and San Felipe School Districts. It is Saturday, November 13, 2004, at our home.
Ebdawna: My name is Ebdawna Jo Musquiz. I am interviewing my mother for my U.S. history class on Val Verde County History. Please state your name for our archives.
Lou: My name is Lou Edna Musquiz. My maiden name was Vasquez. I am daughter of Luis C. and Beatrice G. Vasquez, both from Del Rio, Texas.
Ebdawna: How Long have you lived in Del Rio?
Lou: I was born and raised and have lived here all my life. And I am now 49 years old!
Ebdawna: Did you experience anything significant towards the history of Del Rio?
Lou: Hmmn… The main thing that stands in my mind is the consolidation of our two school districts. I really do consider this a major event in the history of our city because even though it was an educational system it affected the entire city and its citizens. This event happened in the beginning of 1971 - 1972 school year.
Ebdawna: So how did this specifically affect you?
Lou: Well, this occurred suddenly in the middle of my teenage years! I had completed my Sophomore year at San Felipe High School. And just imagine, having experienced already two school years in High School. I had already um, was well in all my activities. I had also been in San Felipe School District all my educational years! One can only imagine how a sudden consolidation with the “rival school” would affect the students.
Ebdawna: How did it affect you ?
Lou: Actually, I was an honor student and deeply involved in several school organizations such as; a member of FHA, science club, student council, and National Honor Society. Oh! My school spirit was at its utmost! Now school spirit in these years, both in San Felipe High School as well as Del Rio High School did not compare to school spirit today. The entire community would paint encouraging cheers on their cars prior to the games, especially when playing against the rival school! As a current educator myself, I try to inspire in my students the joy of belonging to our school. Every year, at Homecoming time, I explain my experiences and then I state that if they see the excitement in me when I talk about my “ great school years”, then this is how it is meant to be!! That they too, should have many wonderful experiences while in high school to later tell their children in years to come!
Ebdawna: In your view how did this affect the city and its citizens?
Lou: All this started in regards to Laughlin Air Force Base students which were required by Texas Education Agency to attend the San Felipe Schools. And this became a problem with the entire city, due to San Felipe being a poor school district and supposedly not having the proper facilities. As a matter of fact, it was about this time that San Felipe School District was planning a new High School!! Hey, I have a scrapbook which I put together during my high school years. Here it is…. see this is one of the articles about the new high school and about the situation. In regards to answering your question, aside from subduing the personal pride the city now had to reorganize the entire local educational system! Beyond accepting consolidation after all the nastiness, which was experienced, the community needed to become united in order to achieve success for the benefit of all the students. The newly consolidated school district now faced many challenges. Since this was not planned there was a great need for more school buses, to transport students clear across the city, there were over crowded classrooms, a strain in all faculty and administration. Oh! I can vividly remember rushing to get the only bus that would bring me home with two arms full of books. I always had to remain in the isle for all seats were taken, and tried to maintain my balance along with many others with books in our arms and getting home in tears.
Ebdawna: Were those tears of sadness or anger?
Lou: Oh, no! By this time my tears were of pure frustration. The frustrations of the day involved dealing with the rival attitude with students along with certain teachers. I had a negative and hurtful experience with an accounting teacher who gave me poor recommendation towards the Honor Society nomination. However,after analyzing this situation it was determined that she had no proven accusations only that I was a former San Felipe student. At this time I merely wanted to maintain my grades and graduate as successful as possible and wanted the next two years to fly by.
Ebdawna: How did the football games and spirit groups work?
Lou: Now that I think about it, this was very unique! We each maintained our football players, cheerleaders, and drill teams for the first couple of games. In the cheers we would not name wildcats or mustangs we would use the word team. I only wish I had had a camcorder to now show all this. Each of our groups would wear their own uniforms. This was a little weird, but worked because we had no choice! Then we were able to develop petitions nominating mascot names and school colors. And then, luckily the entire student body’s final election was totally different then what we had. Our new school colors were now royal blue and white, and our mascot being the Ram. This happened in the fall of 1972. This was the perfect choice! We had many suggestions, but I believe that all of us were really trying to not select anything that would be alike our previous colors and mascots.
Ebdawna: Did you experience any good things during your junior and senior year in your new high school?
Lou: Yes, the first semester I believe was the most difficult. By that I mean the attitudes, the fights, the hurt, etc… begin to soften in my view. My Mom and Dad tried very hard to support me into this new phase. They always encouraged me that even though we lost our school district, we would always have our memories! And we had great memories. So, I decided that I had to set my focus on what was most important to me, my education. Many positive things began to happen as I witnessed the unity in school organizations. I was inducted as a thespian, and in my junior year as the new cosmetology course became available my presidency in the V.I.C.A. organization opened many doors.
Ebdawna: Have there been any benefits from the consolidation, in your opinion?
Lou: The benefits, I believe, were that at that time we had the opportunity to mature. Although not everyone would agree, it is what I experienced. Here is our first issue of the school newspaper, which was newly titled “Together” published by the journalism class in January of 1972. Look! This article says it all. It is entitled “The Principals Corner”. And our Principal was Mr. Simon Ramon Sr., which had also been our principal from San Felipe High. It reads like this; “In the last four months, our school has come a long way. Through greater vision and deeper understanding, members of the faculty and student body have benefited from consolidation. Indecision, uncertainly, and frustration have receded measurably. Sincere pride in accomplishment and an earnest determination to rise above differences that would separate would surely mean progress toward our educational goals, and unity among all in our high school and community regardless of status. May 1972 will bring new light and hope to our community, optimism and opportunities to our school. May we accept our responsibilities with courage and strength, built on a deeper faith in God and fellowman.” I remember that when I read this the first time it made a lot of sense and therefore I committed to my new environment. Because by this time, we had been tired of all the stress from the strain of experiences.
Ebdawna: So do you see any advantages?
Lou: Yes, of-course! The advantages were to advance as a larger group, all representing one city. I believe we have done this in the last 34 years. I have grown, as an educational institution and as a city we have grown. We have had our growing pains, but as a whole, this has worked out. I only wish that we would see the school spirit now! This needs to continue to grow. Now look at this, also in the first volume of “Together” the words of this 1970’s song called Desiderata best describe our tone and goals. This song was not sung. It was read with music in the background and I do not remember who wrote it. But it reads like this, “Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly, and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements, as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not bring you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as grass. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as is should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.”
Ebdawna: Well, this certainly was enjoyable for me! I suppose I will understand and appreciate our school better!!!
Lou: This was also nice for me…. Humm… reminiscing about this time of my life was great!! It somehow does not even feel like all these years have gone by, but they have. So I only hope that others like you will appreciate this story and facts. Thank you very much!
Ebdawna: Thank you!