History and Highlights
by Maxie Lee Work, UHS & OHS teacher/typing and shorthand
1965 Publication: Self Evaluation for the Southern Association
of Colleges & Schools
Students of high-school age attended a public school for the first time in Oxford in 1886 when the city fathers erected a brick building on the site of the present elementary school (now the Federal Building) on Jackson Avenue. All twelve grades were accommodated in the two-story school, which served as a model for all of northern Mississippi. Four high-school teachers shared, with the teachers of the other eight grades, six classrooms, an auditorium, and a library.
In 1929 a separate school for the seventh through the twelfth grade was organized and began function in the old Oxford Grammar School building with Mr. H.D. Pickens as principal. It was largely through the efforts of Dr. Alfred Hume, Chancellor of the University of Mississippi, and Professor O.A. Shaw, Dean of the School of Education, that plans were made to build a school which would serve the young people of Oxford and also provide a laboratory school for student teachers of the University of Mississippi School of Education. Other universities throughout the country had secondary schools under their direction, but these were private institutions. University High School in Oxford, Mississippi, was the first public school under the sole direction of a university.
Plans for the building of University High School were devised by a group of specialists representing the University of Mississippi, the United States Office of Education, the State Department of Education, and several of the leading colleges and universities of the South. The first unit of the building, which was made public by the appropriation of $100.000 by the state legislature, was completed in the summer of 1930. The General Education Board of New York donated $10,000 to supplement the $16,000 appropriated by the City of Oxford, for the financial support of the school until such time as the state legislature could meet in regular session and appropriate $30,000 as an operating fund.
“This Teacher Training program is a co-operative affair between the City of Oxford and the University of Mississippi. The City of Oxford furnished the students and about one-half of the support fund,the University furnishing the remaining part of the support fund and the supervision of instruction.” (1931, University High School Annual)
In 1953 Governor White approved a request for $500,000 to construct an annex to the school building which would house the School of Education. In 1955 Oxford voters passed a bond issue for $50,000 to be used in the education building program. The new building was completed in 1956, and the School of Education and the University High School moved into their expanded facilities. Besides providing the School of Education with modern facilities adjoining the high school, the building afforded the sole use of the high school an auditorium, a spacious gymnasium, a band room, a new library, and an administrative office suite.
In 1961 the number of student teachers had increased to the point that the faculty of University High School could not effectively supervise them. The School of Education found it necessary to send them to other high schools for their teaching experience, therefore, the university no longer needed University High School as a laboratory school.
The City of Oxford appropriated sufficient funds to supplement state monies for the construction of the present building and purchase of approximately 32 acres of land at $1,500 an acre. It was the aim of the Oxford School Board to build the basic units and to provide for future growth. In the fall of 1963, students in grades eight through twelve of the Oxford Municipal Separate School District began their thirty-fourth annual session on the new one-million dollar campus which is now known as Oxford High School.