KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
January 27, 2020
By Natalie Cook Clark
The Katy community came together Sunday to honor and celebrate James E. Taylor High School’s 40th anniversary. Former alumni and faculty shared stories and student groups showcased talent in hopes for a bright future for the Mustangs.
School Welcomed Students in 1979
Taylor High School, Katy ISD's second high school, opened its doors to students on November 26, 1979. The students began the school year at Katy High School until their new school was ready. Now, 40 years later, the current Taylor students and faculty came together along with alumni, past faculty, and administration to celebrate the Mustang family.
Alumni, Faculty, and Students Celebrated School
Current Taylor HS Principal Chris Morgan kicked off a celebration that paid tribute to the legacy of Taylor’s past as well as its present and future. Morgan recognized the Board of Trustees, past principals, and distinguished alumni. Current student groups; the Show Choir Expressions, Pacesetter drill team, and the theater group took the stage at Taylor’s Performing Arts Center.
Russel Faldyn, the current principal of Katy ISD’s Miller Career Center, attended Taylor HS in its inaugural year and served as the event’s master of ceremonies. Faldyn pointed out that back then there wasn’t a grandfather clause in zoning. He had an older sibling at Katy High School, yet he started his freshman year at Taylor, or rather with the Taylor students at Katy HS waiting for their school to be ready.
Tradition and Rivalry was Born
Faldyn spoke of getting his first blue football practice uniform, and helping build traditions, including playing part to the instant high school rivalry between Taylor and Katy.
“We had to write and recite the alma mater,” recalled Faldyn.
Faldyn is more than a Taylor alumni, he also served as an associate principal there, prior to becoming the principal at Miller Career Center.
“I Never thought I would end up serving this campus,” says Faldyn. “Standing here before you today. What an honor.”
Faldyn reminded the audience of the big news of 1979 - news coverage of the Iran Hostages, learning to dance line dance, and the famous "YMCA" that students danced at parties at the VFW Hall.
Back When Fry Road was a Dead End
Over the years, Katy has grown tremendously as people and businesses moved west. Faldyn painted a picture of the town's growth by reminding them that when Taylor HS opened, Fry Road ended about 50 feet past Kingsland Boulevard.
A Legacy Remembered
“It’s really great to see that the things you thought were important are still important to the Taylor High School family,” says former Principal James McDonald.
Board of Trustees members Courtney Doyle, Bill Lacy, Dawn Champaign, Duke Keller, and Ashley Vann were all in attendance. Vann is a Taylor High School Alumni.
“I just had my 30th class reunion and we had a tour of the school,” says Vann. “Yes, Taylor has changed over the years with the major additions of the freshman section and the Performing Arts Center, but then it hasn’t changed in what matters the most and the Taylor spirit.”
“These first Katy schools remind us of the legacy that Katy ISD has become,” says Courtney Doyle, President fo the Board of Trustees. “The younger schools in Katy will get there but it’s special to celebrate Taylor High School today.”
School Named after Historic Superintendent
Taylor HS's legacy can’t be celebrated without recognizing its namesake. The school was named after James "Jimmy" Edgar Taylor, who served Katy ISD in an unprecedented term as superintendent for 31 years.
Taylor was born on October 25, 1912, in North Zulch, Texas. He graduated from Madisonville High School and received his Master's degree in education from Texas A&M University. After spending several years in the U.S. Navy, Taylor served for four years in World War II, and retired with a rank of Lieutenant from the U.S. Coast Guard.
After his service, Taylor returned home and taught school in North Zulch and was a high school principal in Junction. He moved to Katy in 1947 where he served as superintendent for just over three decades, retiring in 1978.
Even in retirement, Taylor frequently visited his namesake school. He was particularly proud of the school because he supported the addition of the second high school as he oversaw Katy ISD through its first big wave of growth. Taylor passed away in 1997.
A Video Captured Taylor’s History
During the presentation a video created by long-time Taylor faculty member Bruce Campbell, and students from his film and media classes, was shown. The video captured the history of Taylor HS through the words of former students, faculty, and historic images.
Despite Renovations Over the Years, Traditions Shine Through
While the school has undergone additions (9th Grade Center and Performing Arts Center 2000-2002) and renovations (2012-2013) some parts from that 1979 opening year are now recognized as part of Taylor HS's history.
Wallace Hall, chief engineer for Spaw-Glass, spent two nights with a laser/transit locating True North and marking the Commons slab. To this day, students gather each day for lunch around the compass rose. Armando Ramon, master tile setter, laid out the work for the rose, mixed the colors and installed each color in the circle. White Portland cement, fine "French" sand, chemicals and coloring agents combined to form the matrix to which was added marble and onyx chips from quarries in Georgia, Tennessee, Mexico and Italy.
Look Out for the Colonel
Taylor HS is the home of the fighting Mustangs. In October 1980, the Athletic Booster Club presented the school with a mascot, a white mustang named "Colonel." The image of the towering white mustang raising its hooves proudly to the sky has been the inspiration for many school spirit t-shirts throughout the years. Originally, Colonel was located in the main entrance lobby. Now he stands in the Performing Arts Center lobby, where the community gathered to celebrate the school’s growing history. Another mascot, "Major" is now located in the main entrance area.
"We grow up, we get older but we don’t give up on the things that are important to us,” says Faldyn.
"I look forward to seeing what the next 40 years will bring," said Morgan. "Mustangs Fight."