History of Santa Rita

By Lane Parrott

Lane Parrott, who taught at the school from 1937 to 1975, wrote the following history of Santa Rita Elementary.

Santa Rita was built in 1926, but the contractor went broke before the building was completed. By the time a new contract was drawn up and signed and the building was completed, it was February of 1927. The building was not wired with electricity, there was no telephone. The Mothers' Club installed and paid for the telephone. The school was opened with all the children in West Ward who lived west of the river. The children, along with Miss Jones, the new principal, and the six teachers gathered up their books and coats, and the group walked across the Beauregard bridge, out West Beauregard, and to South Madison until they came to the school. Everybody was thirsty; after a drink at the fountains, Miss Jones assigned each teacher to her room. There were only the rooms across the front of the building. Miss Jones taught first grade and was principal---Miss Lydia Biggs, second grade; Miss Ella Hilliard, third grade; Miss Susie Melner, fourth grade; Miss Womack, fifth grade; and I cannot recall the sixth grade teacher or the seventh grade teacher. From 1927 until 1935, the school became so crowded that four new rooms were added to the south end of the building and four to the north wing. It was then there were two rooms for each grade and a music room too. There were two part-time supervisors, fourteen teachers, and a music teacher.

In 1939, Mrs. Sam Thorn became the Poet Laureate of Texas. She took a popular tune of the day, "A Shanty in Old Shanty Town" and set new words to the melody. It has been the school song ever since. These are the words:

Our Santa Rita is the best school in town.
Its parents and teachers and pupils are bound
With loyalty true and a spirit to do.
So there's nothing too big and there's nothing too new
With prayers in our hearts and songs on our lips,
We work to be pilots and guide little ships.
Surely God's helping where there are children around-
Santa Rita's the pride of our town.

The first year I taught in Santa Rita was 1937; the school was ten years old. A few years later more rooms were added on each wing. The last addition on the main building was the library in 1946 and the cafeteria on the north wing in 1955. In the 1937-1938 school year, I was assigned to 5th grade and in 1939-1940 to the third grade. In 1939 we had a citywide May Fete. Each of the six elementary schools danced by grade. It was a beautiful affair. The third graders danced to "Norwegian Mountain March." Each school was using its school colors-Santa Rita's colors were purple and white. The Bobcat Band played the music. World War II began with Pearl Harbor in 1942. Along with Goodfellow Field, Santa Rita and its students were busy, busy! Mr. Smith, the Superintendent had retired, and Ms. Dickson came.

Thanks to Lane Parrott, former Santa Rita teacher.



Addition of a beautiful new wing, designed by Henry Schmidt and Kevin Bruce, complete with a library, 8 classrooms, Speech Pathologist office / classroom and additional restrooms.   The library courtyard, shaped in a semi-circular stage, contains brick pavers to commemorate past students, teachers and staff.   A multi-purpose building housing the PE gym and music room was also completed.

 2010  Short version…

*Renovations to Main Building and Cafeteria / architect Craig Kinney

*ADA Upgrades (ramps, bathrooms etc.)

*Mechanical, Electrical & Plumbing upgrades with a new Energy Management System 

2010 - a few more details…

Santa Rita was the first in line for the school bond renovations. In late May 2009 - all teachers moved out of the north side of the main building, relocating to the barracks and the newly emptied computer labs (on the south side).   In addition, the vacating continued around the corner into the main hall to just past the courtyard doors by the girls' restroom.   The office staff relocated to the music room in the gym, counselor to the "library - left", and special education to the room by the playground. As soon as school released for the summer - work began in earnest as the crews prepared for asbestos abatement. This first phase was split into two parts 1A, and 1B. Work concentrated on the ramp to the entrance and the main hall, especially both main restrooms - which were receiving major overhauls.   The floor in the Boys' restroom was removed revealing a cavernous look into the basement for a good part of the summer.   The dropped ceiling was removed, exposing over 80 year-old beams. Various crews put in long hours, weekdays and weekends; working to have Phase 1A close to completion when the staff and students returned in August. Finally, sometime in September, the office returned to the front and the bathrooms were opened! Now work concentrated on 1B,the Kinder and first grade (1) classrooms on the north side.   Just before Christmas break, Kinder & first moved back in and fifth grade (5)   moved out of their rooms on the southeast side. Asbestos abatement took place over Christmas holidays and the process began again for Phase II.   Fast forward to the week before Spring Break… Phase III - fifth grade moved back in and fourth grade (4) moved out of their rooms. Abatement took place while the school was empty, as before, and the remodeling process repeated itself.   Late May 2010, fourth grade packed up to move back into their "real" rooms and all classrooms in the library wing packed up to receive new carpet in the rooms & tile and paneling in the hall to match the renovations in the main building.   Cafeteria renovations also took place during the summer of 2010. Santa Rita has been a very busy place!   


 Bond renovations were completed during the summer of 2012.  August of 2012 renovations were complete and we began the school year with a newly renovated school.


Newer renovations included xeriscaping the grounds to create a native, Texas-style theme to our flora and fauna.  We have also added covered walkways to the gym and music area, and expanded the sidewalks for better traffic flow to enrichment areas. The old barracks have been converted into a STEAM lab and dance studio as well. Our playground has had a major upgrade and covered area, along with a sport turf for soccer, basketball, and volleyball. 

Santa Rita is ever-changing for the better, and we welcome you to come check it out!