This is the 5th in a series of articles in preparation for the Lake Highlands High School 50th Anniversary celebration. The event will be held March 23rd from 1:30 to 5 p.m. at LHHS.
As Lake Highlands High School principal, Dr. Robert Iden – known affectionately as “Dr. Bob” to teachers, staff, students and parents – mentored thousands of young men and women, now flung far and wide across the globe.
Some know that, before he was principal, Dr. Bob taught and coached at LHHS. Fewer know that he played football for the Wildcats before graduating with the Class of 1970.
“I attended LHHS from 1967 through 1970,” he told me, “before there was an auditorium, or the Student Center, or C-Wing. Even B-Wing was only halfway completed back then.”
From 1978-85, Dr. Bob taught U.S. Government, World Geography and Economics, and he was the head track coach and assistant football coach during those years. He returned in 1997 to serve as principal before retiring in 2008 to work in real estate. In 2009 he was recruited to teach and coach at Bishop Lynch High School, and today he teaches a Student Leadership class, serves as the school’s college advisor and works as an assistant coach in football and track.
Dr. Bob reflects often upon his days at LHHS, entertaining his many Facebook friends with games of “LHHS Jeopardy” (Who sang “Seven Bridges Road” in the 1998 Senior Show? Granger Smith, Patrick Freshwater, Kevin Graham and Taylor Vieger. When and where did legendary baseball coach Jay Higgins secure his 700th win? February 25, 2005 when the Cats beat Greenville 10-3 at home. The game was originally scheduled to be played in Greenville but was moved to LHHS for the much-anticipated victory celebration. Who earned the infamous (and unofficial) “Highlandette Hellraiser” award in 1981? Julie Jordan Gargus, who told me she’d love to find that cardboard peace sign cutout with the winners’ names from previous years. In her defense, she said her mom worked for RISD and always had an eye on her girls, so the most scandalous thing she ever did was to short-sheet another Dette’s bed when they traveled out of town to perform in a parade.)
Dr. Bob remains close to many former students and teachers – including Coach Higgins. Funny, since Higgins ruled Iden didn’t have the stuff to make his team.
“To this day, he and I still think that he may be the only high school baseball coach in Texas history who cut a guy from his team who came back to be his principal. So I guess that the life lesson to all is – don’t burn any bridges, because you never know…”
Advocate could devote an entire issue to the recollections of Dr. Bob, but I asked for his best.
“It’s hard to choose a single best memory – there have been so many – but I would have to say that handing my daughter, Kelly, her diploma at the LHHS Class of 1998 graduating ceremony at Moody Coliseum was one. The football season of 1981 when we won the 5A state championship, listening to the choir sing ‘My Heart’s in the Highlands’ under Michael O’Hern’s direction, or being named a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the U.S. Department of Education in 2001 also rate at the top.”
Dr. Bob traveled to Washington D.C. to accept the award with then PTA president Paula Davis and LHHS’ Dr. Sharon Howard, who put the application together.
Like others before him, Dr. Bob says his worst memories involved personal tragedies within LH circles.
“Anytime we experienced the death of a student or faculty member was always difficult, because Lake Highlands High School has always been such a close-knit community.”
“Lake Highlands High School – and by extension, I also have to include all of its feeder schools – has in many ways always been and always will be the soul-force of our community – sort of a cultural incubator where the community spirit is perpetuated. The strong value that this community has historically placed on the education of its youth is a big reason why we see so many young families, including numerous LHHS alumni, move to this area. I think that the strength and stability of LHHS is attributable to the support of the community, and vice versa.”
“I want these young families to know that they could make no better investment in the future of their children than having them graduate from Lake Highlands High School, that their children will have incredible opportunities brought to them by a tremendous group of faculty and staff dedicated to helping students grow and develop their talents and abilities, and that we offer as proof an illustrious 50-year history of doing so!”
You can reconnect with Dr. Bob and with other LHHS alumni, teachers, staff and parents at the 50th Anniversary March 23rd. The event is free and kicks off at 1:30 p.m.