Photography courtesy of Lake Highlands Junior High yearbooks from 1970, 1981, 1990, 2001, 2010 and 2020.

Lake Highlands Junior High was built in 1956. Dwight Eisenhower was President. Color TV had only been invented three years prior.

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In the fall of 1960, the school opened its doors. It housed students from the seventh to 12th grade until 1965 when the separate high school was built.

In 1999, the Lake Highlands Freshman Center was built across from the high school, which meant a transition to teaching seventh to eighth grade exclusively at LHJH.

Eleven years later, in 2010, the junior high was awarded a National Blue Ribbon for exceptional performance and diversity.

This fall, that lineage will be coming to an end. The 2020 Richardson ISD bond approved a project to transition LHJH and Forest Meadow Junior High into a middle school model, teaching sixth through eighth grade. In conjunction, the old LHJH building was set to be demolished in favor of building a brand new Lake Highlands Middle School building. The project initially came with about a $70 million dollar price tag, which was raised to $81.1 million after delays due to the pandemic.

Construction is nearing completion, with students set to attend classes as soon as next fall semester. The school organized two open house nights for the neighborhood to walk the halls one last time and reminisce. Some neighbors felt strongly about the decision.

Photography courtesy of Lake Highlands Junior High yearbooks from 1970, 1981, 1990, 2001, 2010 and 2020.

Greg Schuck, who graduated from LHHS in 1973, took to the LHHS alumni Facebook group to voice his frustrations with history being removed.

“Every other school got ‘refurbished,’ ours gets destroyed and replaced by an office building. It’s really gonna be difficult for me to drive by there,” he said in a recent post.

Schuck isn’t the only person saddened by the news. Blanca Webb has been teaching seventh grade science at LHJH since 2015. It was her first teaching job, in a building she’s grown to call home.

“The people in this building have always made me feel like I’m a part of a family,” she says. “LHJH is such a special place and I’ll be sad to see this building go. I’ve never been a teacher anywhere else so it’s bittersweet to say goodbye.”

LHJH Principal Nick Rustin used similar verbiage to describe the move.

“The transition is bittersweet,” Rustin says. “It is an exciting opportunity to grow and to move into a new building, but it is sad to leave behind such a historic landmark.  However, the members of this community will continue to keep the traditions alive, and those memories of LHJH will hold strong in the new Lake Highlands Middle School.”

Many neighbors have memories attached to LHJH. For Beverly and Rick Marr, their life wouldn’t be the same without it.

“We were middle school sweethearts,” Beverly says. “We were in the same sixth grade class, and stood next to each other in our class picture.”

They started dating in ninth grade, and you could say the rest was history, except the junior high was not.

“Rick decided to be a teacher’s pet in upstairs A Hall,” Beverly jokes.

He grew close to his grade algebra teacher named Peggy Marks, eventually bonding with her husband Ronnie who Rick describes as a big brother.

The couple graduated in 1974, and when they got married in ‘76, Ronnie was a groomsman.

Forty-eight years of marriage later, Beverly and Rick still live in Lake Highlands. Their three children; Brian, Brenda and Catherine all attended LHJH and LHHS, plus a grandson currently in seventh grade.

Their eldest son Brian graduated in 1998, and also married his high school sweetheart in his same class.

The Marrs built three generations of Wildcats, with the third young enough to experience the school where his grandparents met and the impending new building where he’ll be the first to forge memories that.

“I will still call it the junior high,” Beverly says.