Donna High School (History)
The following information was adapted from the Barbara Edwards 1986 “ Donna School System” historical research report for the Hidalgo County Historical Commission,“The History of the Indian Sweetheart” by Art Del Barrio, and the Handbook of Texas.
In 1904 a long two-roomed school building, the forerunner of the Donna school system, was built at Runn; located south of Donna. This building, known briefly as the “Hester School”, was equipped with desks and a large fireplace, first housed twenty-two students and one teacher. A disastrous flood in 1909 some years later damaged the building to such an extent that it was abandoned. Later in 1910, a building would later be built near the former “Hester School” site which is now part of Runn Elementary. This event caused most of the original settlers (Hesters, Ruthvens, Norwoods, Champions, Holloways, Vertrees and others) to move to present day Donna. Donna students first attended classes on a central campus in the fall of 1911. A new building, constructed of yellow brick, housed all students from the first grade through high school. In 1913 the first class was graduated from this school. Enrollment increased rapidly during those early years. The first Donna High School was completed and occupied in the fall of 1919.
Donna High School No.1 (1919–1955) In 1919, a three-story high school was opened on the corner of Eleventh Street and Hester across from the First Baptist Church. This complex stood where the Moye Elementary parking lot now stands. In addition, to regular classrooms, this school had a home economics lab with a separate dining room boasting of sterling silver flatware and Haviland china, a manual training department and an eight piece orchestra, the foundation of today’s band. This newly constructed high school building continued to serve the needs of Donna students for a period of thirty-six years until 1955, when it was torn after a new high school was built. The roof of this school was blown off by Hurricane No. 11 in 1933 and many of the school records were lost. The 1933 hurricane financially devastated the school that there was no money for extracurricular activities. As a result, the Donna High School Junior Class of 1934-35 originated the Indian Sweetheart Contest to raise money for the junior-senior banquet prom. Little did the students know that they were creating Donna High School’s longest and most respected tradition and honor for a female student which continues today.
Donna High School, No.2 (1955–1967) A new high school was built on the southwest corner of the original school campus on Main Street. The students and faculty moved into this school on January 23. 1956 and it was dedicated on February 3, 1956. The building contained twenty-four classrooms with three central wings and a central office area. There was also a wing that included the library, superintendent’s office and the tax office. In 1961, the Donna Redskins won the Class AA State Football Championship defeating the Quanah Indians. As of 2016 Donna remains the only Rio Grande Valley area high school to win a state championship. The 1960s again saw Donna schools in an enlargement plan. Sixty acres of land had been purchased on FM 493 and again Donna undertook construction of a new high school.
Donna High School, No.3 (1967–1983) This new high school opened in 1967 about the time the disastrous Hurricane Beulah struck. Wooden planks were put out for weeks for the students and teachers to enter the school area. This new school was the first totally air-conditioned school in the school district. There were twenty-four classrooms in the original building. Four classrooms were later added to west side of the former gym. In 1981, a cafeteria and additional classrooms were added. This school has fifty-five classrooms and currently serves as the Todd Middle School.
Donna High School, (No.4 1983– present) March 1983 was the opening of our present-day high school on ten acres of land on Wood Avenue. Early additions included a second gym, a career and technology building, a new cafeteria/classrooms and a west wing. In 1997, a new two story library and a 1,400 seat auditorium and performing arts center was added. In 2009, a new 4 million state-of the-art Science building was added to the high school. Plans are underway for the creation of a second separate high school in 2014.