This is the 8th 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.
Every year, on the first day of school, Sue McCaffree Passmore introduced herself to students at Lake Highlands High School as “the original Wildcat.”
“I arrived in Lake Highlands before Mr. Anderson, our first principal, Mary Marlar, the matriarch of our faculty for so many years, or Jerry McVay, our outstanding business teacher who became our premier counselor,” Sue told me.
“I came to Lake Highlands in October 1959 as the first student teacher in a LH school. I reported to Wallace Elementary, which housed grades 5-8. (I arrived just a few days after the indoor plumbing was completed and the port-a-potties had been removed from campus!) The only other LH school at that time was Lake Highlands Elementary, which housed grades 1-4. The building that is now LHJH was under construction. I did my student teaching in 7th and 8th grade Language Arts.
“From January 1960 until May 1961 I taught in Richardson. Then, in the fall of 1961, I joined the LHHS faculty as the 8th graders with whom I’d done my student teaching became sophomores. Those students became our first graduating class of 1964.
“Many of those same students had been at LH Elementary when Bill Passmore opened that school as its first prinicipal,” adds Sue. “In 1966, I became Mrs. Bill Passmore. Those students have always been a very special part of our lives.”
“I taught English for the remainder of my career, retiring in 1994.” (She took an 8 year break to raise her children, both of whom graduated from LHHS. Once the youngest started Kindergarten, she returned to the classroom.)
Sue says her most significant memory is of November 22, 1963.
“I had already prepared material to begin a poetry unit the next week. When we received the announcement over the P.A. system that the president had died, I immediately pulled out the purple ditto pages I had run of Robert Frost’s ‘The Gift Outright,’ the poem Frost had read at Kennedy’s inauguration. We read and discussed the poem in class. To this day, students tell me they still have that old purple ditto!”
If Sue was known as “the original Wildcat,” Bill earned a moniker of his own.
In 2004, the Texas House of Representatives proclaimed Bill “the Father of Lake Highlands Education.” Rep. Pete Sessions honored Bill in a speech on the House floor, listing his service to the district as assistant to Superintendent J.J. Pearce, first principal of LHE, principal of Richardson High, first counselor of the Dallas County Community College District’s (DCCCD) first campus (El Centro), first Associate Dean of Instruction for Richland College, and first principal of Merriman Park.
Looking back, Sue says she and her late husband made many wonderful memories in Lake Highlands.
“I literally grew up in the LH community. Bill and I bought our home there 6 months after we married. I am proud to have called LH my home where I lived for over 40 years.”
If you’d like to catch up with Sue Passmore or other former LHHS teachers or students, you are invited to attend the LHHS 50th Anniversary celebration, to be held March 23rd from 1:30 to 5 p.m. at the school. The event is free and open to the entire community.