Windows on the past: The origin of Palo Duro High School in the 1950s

One of the 11 schools to be built or renovated with the $5 million bond passed by voters in 1953 was Palo Duro High School, referred to as North Amarillo High in the early days of planning.

Originally planned to be a four-year school, Palo Duro was to include ninth grade students who would transfer from Horace Mann Junior High School to alleviate overcrowding. However, this did not take effect until September 1956.

As the first campus-style school in Amarillo, construction of the 113,795 square-foot building at Northwest 14th Avenue and North Grant Street began in June 1954. The gym provided seating for 1,000 students and the cafeteria could accommodate 400 students. The main building was designed to house 1,500 students.

Students who lived north of the Fort Worth and Denver tracks were slated to attend the new high school. Students living south of the tracks would continue to attend Amarillo High School, whose enrollment was 2,600 in December 1954.

At school board meetings in June 1954, a delegation requested that the new high school be named Hunter High School, in honor of Mr. and Mrs. E.L. Hunter, who taught at Horace Mann for many years. In the following months, other names considered were Gene Howe, North High of Amarillo, Caprock, Highland, North High School, Thomas Jefferson and Amarillo North High. Palo Duro was selected by the school board in October 1954.

In February 1955, a committee consisting of the freshman class of Horace Mann and sophomores and juniors of Amarillo High who would be attending Palo Duro voted the Don as their school mascot, winning by a landslide. Coming in at a far second place was Blazers. Other mascots considered were Ponies, Indians, Braves and Warriors.

The committee also voted on the school’s colors, with royal blue and white also winning the popular vote by a landslide. Red and white, green and gray, and red and gray were also considered.

With the 38-classroom high school complete…

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