LOCATION AND HISTORY OF SCHOOL.
[Taken from the 1921 Bears Memories yearbook]
Although there were a few white families living in the Lower Rio Grande Valley forty or fifty years ago, nevertheless it has been only fourteen or fifteen years since the real settlement of the Valley began, Since that time the country has developed from a sparsely settled wilderness into a very populous district, thickly dotted with thriving towns. Grass, trees, flowers, and all kinds of fruits, vegetables, and agricultural products are growing everywhere. Schools, churches, and other institutions which mark the progress of civilization and culture have come into existence. Today this section of the country not only compares favorably with other sections which have been settled much longer, but even excels them in many respects.
There are reasons for this rapid development. The unusual fertility of the soil is a large factor and the splendid irrigation system in operation insures a plentiful supply of moisture at any and all times. Almost any agricultural product may be grown in the valley. These products excel in quantity per acre, quality, and in early yield those of most other sections. Corn is produced in great quantities. Cotton, broomcorn, and other crops are grown profitably. There are many truck farms; vegetables and all sorts of garden produce may be obtained during almost any season of the year. All kinds of fruits can be grown, but the oranges and grape fruit in particular have made the Valley famous. Last year, at the National Fair, the citrus fruits from the Valley were given first, second, and third places, ranking above those from Florida and California.
The climate is equitable, no extremes of temperature occurring at one time during the year. The summer temperature never reaches the extreme height which it does in sections farther north, and the nights are always cool and pleasant. This is accounted for by the nearness of the gulf. And it would be hard to land a section of country which is more healthful than the Valley.
The land companies have played no small part in the settlement and development of the Valley. It has always been to their interest to find the favorable conditions and point them out to the people elsewhere. And where unfavorable conditions have existed they have looked for possibilities, and by developing these possibilities they have rendered favorable what had been unfavorable. Some one individual or group of individuals in years past had a vision of what the wilderness along the Rio Grande might become some day in the hands of enlightened and progressive people. Just what the motive of this individual or group of individuals was, we do not know, and we dare not say; but that it has led to the realization of a beautiful dream we cannot deny. And today we have the “Magic Valley.”
At one time there were eighteen or twenty land companies in operation in the Valley at the same time. The first tract of land sold for settlement in the Lower Rio Grande Valley was bought for seventy-five cents to one dollar per acre. That was not many years ago. Within a few short years the same land has increased in value until now it may be sold for hundreds of dollars per acre—some of it for even thousands.
Pharr and San Juan are two very progressive towns about one and one-half miles apart, situated in the heart of this wonderful valley. They are in Hidalgo County, about sixty miles northwest of Brownsville.
The settlement of Pharr and San Juan began about 1910. Within ten years time, they have grown from nothing, we might say, to busy, prosperous towns of ,about fifteen hundred (1500) and twelve hundred (1200) respectively. Today they have good electric light plants. lighted streets, many hundred feet of sidewalks, an ice plant, three banks, parks in the making, each a well-organized Chamber of Commerce, each a weekly paper, and, together, one of the best school systems in Texas.
This last, the splendid school system, was made possible by the consolidation in 1915 of the two schools into Common District No. 4. Construction began at once on a building which when completed, at a cost of forty thousand dollars ($40,000), was modern and up-to-date in every respect. The building is well equipped with class rooms, domestic art and domestic science laboratories, laboratories for physics and chemistry, and for manual training and mechanical drawing. By the fall of 1916 the school opened in the new building with an enrollment of 143 American children.
In 1919, by a special act of the legislature, the district was changed from Common School District No. 4 to the Pharr-San Juan Independent School District, and is known as such today.
In 1919 a new town, Alamo, sprang up in the eastern edge of the district. This is a prosperous, growing village of fine, select people, who are awake to the needs of good schools. They are co-operating splendidly in making the Pharr-San Juan School a school of the first class.
Today the Pharr-San Juan Independent School District boasts of five grammar schools and one high school; namely the three grammar schools for American children, one at Alamo, one at San Juan, and one at Pharr; two grammar schools for Mexican children, one at San Juan and one at Pharr; and one high school located between Pharr and San Juan. The Pharr Grammar School for American children is at present taught in the High School building.
In the High School today there are one hundred thirty students. This number includes all students of the seventh grade from the whole district, who are taught by the High school faculty under the departmental plan. The High School faculty consists of three men and three women, all of whom are college trained and especially fitted for their respective lines of work.
At present the school has nineteen and one-half units of University affiliation. Two additional units have been recommended by the high school inspector. When a student has completed the course of study prescribed by the Pharr-San Juan High School he may enter any college or university without having to take entrance examinations.
Each teacher will be expected to commemorate the historical events of the following dates with appropriate exercises: Armistice Day, Thanksgiving Day, Washington’s Birthday, Texas Independence, and San Jacinto Day.