Fight Song
2120 W. Jefferson
Dallas, TX 75208

Sunset High School has been here for many years. This year (2000) Sunset High School celebrates their 75th anniversary. When one thinks about Sunset they always assume Sunset was the original Sunset. Yet that is not true, an elementary school at Hampton and Gladstone bore the name Sunset first and still has the name engraved above the main Entrance to the building. However it was decided that Lida Hooe would be a more appropriate name for an Elementary school, since Miss Hooe had been an elementary teacher and Sunset became the name for the new high school. Sunset High School opened its doors on September 21,1925. Sunset was built to accommodate 2,000 or more students.

Oak Cliff Hi was a grand old school,
But she grew and grew and grew
Until they made an awful rule
And cut her right half in two.
Some took it hard; some took it worse,
Some couldn't stand it at all,
But most of us started from the first
And answered the "Sunset Call."
Listen, we call ourselves "Bisons"
And we intend to "Stampede,"
Why we "Bisons" don't succeed.
So there will never be a reason.
If you see some big old Greenhorn
Who don't know just who we are
You get as fresh as a spring morn
And tell them what we are for.
Please don't be slow to get started,
Every one has a part to do.
You know from what school you have parted,
So carry THAT SPIRIT right thru!!!

-Jewell McKinney

Principals of Sunset High School

1925-1931 Jack A. Wilson
1931-1941 W. T. White
1941-1942 W.W.Bushman
1942-1946 J.D. Chalk
1946-1947 Shumake M. Baber
1947-1950 Robert H. McKay
1950-1959 C.C. Miller
1959-1968 H.S. Griffin
1968-1980 Harold J. Filgo
1980-1983 Joel Pittman
1983-1985 Sam Lopez
1985-1989 Richard Marquez
1989-1990 Cele Rodriguez
1990-1992 Michael Stiles
1992-1992 Carl Montoya
1992-1994 Domingo Regalado
1994-1997 Oscar Rodriguez
1998-2001 Daniel Menchaca
2001-2004 Silvia Lopez
2004-2006 Emilio Castro
Present -- Anthony Tovar

In the mid 1930's there was an explosion at Sunset High School in the "high wing". The biology laboratory had some gas pipes coming up in the desks and tables that screwed into a connection down on the floor. The kids would sit and turn those things, and this particular time they turned them the wrong direction. It was the last period of the class and the room became filled with gas. The next morning the janitor who had charge of that cleaning went into the room to sweep, and the explosion blew everything to pieces. The flame went down the hall and burned the whiskers of the Bison on the wall. Yet nobody missed a single day of school. The church let Sunset use some of their rooms and other classes met in the airwells all around, even under the trees. This went along that way until the building was repaired. During this time there were fewer problems of social conduct than we had ever had before at Sunset.

Unfortunately, the janitor (unknown at this writting) was killed in the explosion.

In the fall of 1937 when Sunset still had a freshman class, enrollment was 2,500. Administration planned to separate the students so some would attend in the morning and others in the afternoon. Mr. White changed their plans. He fixed it so that everyone would have classes in the morning and to where there was no room in the school left vacant one period all day.

ORGANIZATIONS: Some such as these were a big part of Sunset life.

National Honor Society
Poppy Sellers
Hunting and Fishing Club
Purple and White Band
Football Squad
Track team
Golf Team
Tennis Team
Cheerleading Squad
Girls' Sports Club
Collectors Club
Russian Club
Spanish National Honor Society
Medical Careers Club
Woods and Water club
Pep Squad
Bicycle Club
Speakers Club
Pen Pals
Symphony Club
Flicker Club
Square Dance Club
Dallas Junior Historical Society
Future Nurses Club
Junior Achievement
Future Business Leaders
Chess Club
French Club
World Affairs Club
Number Sense
Comparative Anatomy
Quill and Scroll
Honorary Journalistic Society
Swim Team
Solo and Ensemble Club
Key Club
Speaking Chorus
Chemistry Club
Crafts Club
Bowling Club
Future Teachers of America
Roller Skating Club
Junior Traffic Commission
Aviation Club
Art Service Club
Creative Writers
Medical Careers Club

In 1933, Ross L. Bush would be the first to be named to Sunsets Hall of fame.

In 1938 Sunset became football champs

In the 1940's patriotism was at its peak. Many faculty and students would go and fight in World War II but not all would return. Principal W.W. Bushman, a much loved, much respected man, who said he "could not ask those boys to volunteer without going himself," would be lost flying the hump over Burma to China and would not return. There was a plaque installed at Sunset to display the names of those who served so valiantly in the defense of our country.

Miss June Pressley from Sunset High was crowned Dallas Bond Queen for Dallas purchasing more war bonds, to help the situation than any other place.

The last class of freshmen entered in 1939.

In the area of music, the orchestra and chorus continued to flourish under the direction of Mr. Otto Michels. In 1932 the orchestra would be the largest high school orchestra in Dallas, and the chorus, with Perry D. Bradley as president, was the largest Sunset had ever had. Probably the most exciting accomplishment in the field of music during this decade was the creation of Sunset's Purple and White Band. Under the direction of Mr. Michels the band would sport purple and white uniforms.

In 1953, the All State Orchestra at Galveston for the Texas Music Educators Association included four Sunsetters out of a possible twelve playing first chairs, and the First Solo Trombone was by Gill Groves, Sunset.

In 1953, also, the First Annual Dal-Hi Symphonic Concert was inaugurated, assisted by the Sunset High School A Cappella Choir, directed by Louise Allen.

The gym and band hall would be completed January 20, 1954 at a cost of over $185,000.00.

During the 1950's a number of activities were begun which would become traditional. In 1956, the R.O.T.C. would sponsor a Military Ball.

Also, in 1956, the Bisonettes would sponsor their first Christmas Dance. The Student Council, 1957 held the first Valentine Dance.

In the 1950's students began to drive their cars to school.

Sunset originally had only the northern half of the block from Oak Cliff Blvd. to Tennant, and it took years to get all the homeowners to sell their places. Along about 1959 the southeast quarter was opened for parking, no paving.

Sunset had an eighth grade in 1952-1953. They came from Cockrell Hill. There wasn't any place for them in either junior high, so they sent them to Sunset. They went to Sunset five years, the only class ever to do this.

Academically, the 50's would see the introduction of the occupational education program. It began with a course called Distributive Education, through which students obtained employment, working one-half day and going to school one-half day.

An additional occupational course was added in 1955, Diversified Occupations. This course name changed to Industrial Cooperative Training the next year.

Other courses offered during this time were Arts and Crafts, Human Relations, Driver's Education, and Russian.

For the first time, in 1958, all seniors were listed in one section. Prior to this year, since the opening of Sunset, many seniors had graduated in January of each year.

In 1953 and 1957, the Sundial (yearbook) was awarded All Texas Honor Rating by the Texas High School Press Association.

In 1957, Sprague Field, a new football stadium in southwest Dallas, was dedicated.

The "fabulous fifties" closed and Bisons changed their hair styles, fashions and entertainment idols.

The Sunset Spirit Jug was introduced in 1956-1957 and was used to promote school spirit. As long as the cap to the jug was removed the spirit flowed and the student body screamed to the utmost capacity.

Herman S. Griffin was to be ultimately honored as the first "Bison of the Decade."

One of the most honored traditions of Sunset would be, of course, the Bison itself, the symbol of the school, teams, and students. The Bison Head in the front hall, the mascot symbol of Spirit, Knowledge and Friendship, would have a history of its own. Mr. Griffin would help perpetuate that history and add to it.

Student body, representatives, faculty and staff were all refereed to as the Big Bison Team. Anybody who performed in the name of Sunset was doing a service, was part of the Big Bison Team.

Since the opening of Sunset, there have been three Bison heads displayed in the front hall. The first one was stolen by rivals, and was later found in a field. In 1933, the Bison's whiskers were burned during the explosion of the biology lab. As time passed, the old bison head became worn out. On Christmas of 1962, Sunset got a new one. The Bison head which was replaced in 1962 is still used for the Adamson assembly, when the Bison speaks. In 1969 the school was broken into and the Bison head was pulled off the wall and torn up so badly that it could not be repaired. Mr.Griffin located a new bison head in an antique store in Sunset, TX! This Bison head was the third Sunset had and still hangs on the wall.

"The Bison head was put up in 1931," Mr. Griffin reminisces about those events. When I went there, we rocked along with the ol' Bison, who had been signed and stolen off the wall and thrown in the mudhole, horns pulled off. "A man over on Singleton Boulevard whose daughter was in Sunset, called me and offered a new Bison Head, and I went over and looked at it. It was a beautiful specimen; the prettiest you ever saw!"

The class of 1964, the year the Annex was completed, "produced a copper box," he would recall, "and they filled it with various things they thought someone sometime might care something about. They soldered the top on and it was buried in the cornerstone in the annex. Another addition to the school facilities was a large parking lot behind Sunset High School. Also, during this time, the number of tennis courts on the east side of the school would be increased.

Another annual tradition of Sunset was "Tacky Day".

The Band took top honors in the Fire Prevention Parade. New uniforms were bought in 1958 and 1959.

The football team won the Zone Championship in 1960.

The track team won the city Championship in 1961 under Coach Jack Roten.

"1962 started the tradition of when the Juniors could wear the senior ring.

Each year Mr. Griffin had students fill out cards with names and addresses, and he would give them to the Secretary of the class for future reunions. The class of '64 was one of those classes, and they would later utilize the cards to have a very successful and well-attended reunion ten years later.

In 1964 Mr. Cobb passed away. Mr. Cobb was a strong Sunset teacher, and his son, Dr. Billy Cobb, finished at Sunset and was an outstanding athlete." Cobb Stadium is a living memorial to Mr. Cobb.

Sunset would have its first Swim Team in 1965. Robert May and Roger Veal would set records in the breaststroke and backstroke.

In 1966, Sunset had a comeback in football. 6-4 is good after they had been losing ten straight.

"We still had Tacky Day in 1966, but it was the last year of Tacky Day."

In 1967, we lost some boys to war. Robert Rudd was one of those.

1967 was the year that we won football.

In 1969 four players would make All-City in football: Ricky Duff, Don Randall, Rudy Jaramillo, and Herbie Youngskin.

Also in 1969, the Dress Code would be drawn up later with the thought in mind that the way a person dresses affects the way he or she acts.

In the sixties, principals insisted the boys wear their shirt tails tucked, and hair cut above the ear, and that girls wear dresses to school.

Jim Goodwin, graduate of '60, would be one of the first para-medics, responsible for helping get that service started. He also built the first radio that they used to transmit the EKG.

During the 1960's, academic course offerings were the same as during previous decades with two exceptions: Russian was offered only two years-'59 and '60, and the third occupational course was added in 1965, Vocational Office Education (VOE).

In 1961, Ralph Utley became band director and the group name was changed to Spotlight Band. In 1961 Mr. Utley organized a dance band called the First Herd, in 1962 the Second Herd and so on. This group played for many dances and school functions. In 1962, the Spotlight Band and Bisonettes won second place in Dallas high School Half-time Competition and in '63 the two groups received a Superior rating in the same competition.

Additional Honors came to Sunset as John Cerminaro was named 1st Chair brass section of the State Band in 1964.

The Favorite categories during the '60's were Most Popular seniors, juniors, Sophomores, Best All-Around Seniors, Friendliest Seniors, Wittiest Seniors, and Most Handsome and Beautiful Seniors. In 1965 the category of Most Likely to Succeed was added.

In 1964 the Spotlight band sponsored the Valentine dance.

The year 1975 would be a banner year, for it would mark the Golden Anniversary of Sunset High School.

"If it weren't for the pep-assemblies I don't think the students would be together."

1974 would be a special year for the band. They would have new white uniforms with purple cavalier hats designed by Charles Robinson, Band Director. The sunrays on the back of the uniform would be symbolic of the traditional sunset formed on the field by the band and Bisonettes, cheerleaders, and R.O.T.C. the last game of the year. The band would be invited to San Antonio Fiesta of the Flowers to perform, and they would also be featured in a promotional film of the city showing them touring various parts of Dallas.

In 1975 in City Competition, Choir would have four first Divisions: Boys' Ensemble, Girls' Ensemble, and two Mixed Ensembles.

"When we caught hands and sang the Alma Mater, we really meant it."

In the seventies drama class would be in such high demand that not every student who desired to take drama would be able to do so. This was undoubtedly due to Mary Anna Branson, the creative, inspiring, imaginative drama director.

For the Senior Play of 1975, The Dallas Morning News would devote the better part of the first page in featuring Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and flapper pictures of the cast.

Integration, or rather desegregation, came with a bang - court ordered. Some population movement was noticed in the areas as parents either put their children in private schools, or moved, perhaps to the suburbs, to achieve what they felt would be a more settled school situation for their children. Mr. Filgo states, " We have had a change - ethnic ratio - of course, it was brought on by desegregation and brought on by changes inn the pattern of the neighborhood. The ratio in 1975 was 61% Anglo, and about 30% Mexican- American and 7% Black. Parents who kept their children in Sunset on a year-to-year watchful, waiting basis lived to be satisfied with the choice and the education the students received in the interim settling-in period. The shifting in of the new students was accomplished quietly with a minimum rippling and with no appreciable problems. There were adjustments, of course, and there may have been an individual resentment or two, but there were also obvious successes, such Perry Washington, first black cheerleader - chosen not for his color, but for his own likable happy-go-lucky personality. Melvin Lemmon was elected Wittiest Senior Boy in 1973 and Willie Pierson, Most Talented Senior Boy in 1975.

In 1975, however, Sunset would be the epitome of ethnic equality. Its racial mix would be acceptable to the courts.

Mr. Filgo, Principal at the time would comment, "The biggest thing that has happened since 1968 has been the expansion of the career education program. We have expanded from three programs to eight programs during that period of time.

"We now have two periods of drama instead of just one, so you can spend a little more time, finish two courses, and gain two credits in a year's time instead of just one. That started in the year 1975.

Another change that came in 1975 had been the R.O.T.C., where girls were admitted. Another change was girls in sports. Swimming started earlier, but basketball, track and volleyball, for girls, was started in 1974. H.E.W. stated that girls could participate in any sport as long as one would partition or provide separate facilities for them. In Sports winning translated itself into trophies, and Sunset had its share of trophies. The largest trophy Sunset has is the Sanger Trophy. Mr. Filgo notes, "The Sanger Trophy was given to the most outstanding school.

It started in 1929 and ran through 1954, when Sunset received it permanently.

In 1969 there was a nigh of vandalism that occurred at both Sunset and Adamson. The damage was quite extensive at both schools, with both the Bison head and the Leopard damaged, and trophy cases demolished, with trophies thrown up and down the halls. Security in 1975, however, is such that an occurrence such as that cannot happen again. In the event of a break -in, electronic surveillance would signal an alarm and police would arrive within minutes.

In 1971 the dress code was relaxed.

In 1974 fourteen outstanding graduates were on the stage for the Tree Planting Ceremony. Television Channels 4 and 5 took pictures of the event and featured it in their news programs. The Tree Ceremony was a Kick-off activity for the 1975 Golden Anniversary Celebration.

In 1970, Mr. Filgo invited Mr. H.S. Griffin to give out the diplomas to the graduating seniors. He had been a former principal of Sunset.

Click here for more Sunset Bison history.
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Updated 12/10/2009