The History of Calhoun Middle School
The site of A.O. Calhoun Middle School was originally the site of the John B. Denton College. In 1912, the college, which was the forerunner of Abilene Christian University, was moved to that west Texas city. The Board of Trustees of the Denton Independent School District acquired the property and Denton's first high school began operation on this site. In 1923, the campus expanded northward to occupy the site of the present main building facing Congress Street. Through the years, the school district has acquired several small parcels of land along the west side of Denton Street and now owns all of the land bounded by Gregg, Mounts, Denton, and Congress streets. The block bounded by Alice, Congress, Egan, and Denton streets also is property of the school district and serves as a parking area and sports practice field. The corner lot at the northwest corner of Congress and Mounts streets houses the tennis courts of Calhoun Middle School.
The Physical Structures
The original John B. Denton College building, located on the southern end of the present Calhoun Campus, served as Denton's high school through 1923. At that time, the present main building, the familiar red brick structure facing Congress Street, was constructed and the high school moved into new quarters. In 1926, a brand new gymnasium was added on Denton Street and became the home of the state championship basketball teams couched by Mr. Dan McAlister. The 1940's saw the addition of a classroom building just north of the old John B. Denton building which is now known as the South Building, another gymnasium on Mounts Street, and an Industrial Arts building just north of the gymnasium on Denton Street. A cafeteria was added to the southern end of the campus in the 1950's to enable those buildings to be used as a junior high school. In 1957, the high school was moved to the new building on Fulton Street and the entire campus was used as a junior high campus, the only one in Denton at the time. The buildings on the southern end of the campus were utilized to house elementary classes until Newton Rayzor Elementary was completed in 1960. The campus was then divided into a seventh grade unit on the southern end of the campus and an eighth and ninth grade unit on the northern end of the campus. The PRESENT cafeteria was constructed in 1962. In 1968, Strickland Junior High School was opened in the northern part of the city, and all eighth and ninth grade students attended this facility for one year. In 1969, Congress Junior High School was opened on Congress Street to serve seventh, eighth, and ninth grade students. In 1975, the Multi-purpose Building was opened, replacing the old John B. Denton Building which was razed. The Dan McAlister Gymnasium and the C.C. Jones Industrial Arts Building were opened in 1983, replacing the old Denton Street Gymnasium and the Industrial Arts Building which have also been razed.
Mr. J.L. Jackson was selected to serve as principal of Denton High School by the Board of Trustees in 1917. He apparently served through 1924.
In 1924, A.O. "Prof" Calhoun was appointed principal of Denton High School and began the first year in the new building on Congress Street. He had previously served as the principal of Lee School. He served as principal of Denton High School on this campus for 33 years. When the new high school opened on Fulton Street in 1957, "Prof" retired, having dedicated 43 years of his life to the education of young people. He was the only person to serve as high school principal in the familiar old red brick building on Congress Street. Mr. Calhoun died on July 13, 1973, but his spirit lives on in the lives of those he touched. On August 10, 1982, the name of Congress Junior High School was officially changed to A.O. Calhoun Junior High School, in honor of the many years of service given by "Prof" to the children of Denton.
Upon Mr. Calhoun's retirement and the move of the high school to the new campus in 1957, Mr. Dan McAlister was appointed principal of the Denton Junior High School. He served in that capacity until his retirement in 1967. The new gymnasium on the Calhoun campus is named in his honor. Mr. McAlister died on December 10, 1986.
In 1960, the southern portion of the campus housed all 7th grade students in the district. Mr. Durwood Tonn served as seventh grade principal for the entire existence of this grade arrangement. In 1969, when Congress Junior High School was opened, Mr. Tonn was named as the assistant principal. He retired from the district in 1985 and still resides in Denton.
Mr. Joe Burks was named the first principal of Congress Junior High School in 1969. He had previously served as principal of the North Texas Lab School which was closed in 1969. Mr. Burks retired from his position in 1972. He passed away on March 7, 1993.
Mr. Ivan Glasscock succeeded Mr. Burks as principal and served from 1972 through 1977. Mr. Glasscock was named high school principal in 1977 and served there until his retirement in 1985. He continues to live in Denton.
Mr. Robert Hardaway was the next principal of Congress Junior High School, serving from 1977 through 1984. He was responsible for the smooth transition in the name of the school in 1982. He served as principal of Strickland Junior High School from 1984 through 1991 and continues to serve the district as Director of Student Services.
Mr. Tony Swafford succeeded Mr. Hardaway, being appointed principal on July 1, 1984. He served as principal from 1984 through 1993 when he announced his resignation to move to Brownwood, Texas, to serve there as the high school principal.
Mrs. Dianne Blair succeeded Mr. Swafford, being appointed principal July 1993. She previously served as assistant principal at Woodrow Wilson Elementary 1989-1993; assistant principal at Ginnings Elementary 1984-1989; elementary teacher -grades 4, 5, and 6, 1979-1984. Mrs. Blair and husband moved here from Abilene where she served as elementary teacher grades 1 and 6 from 1974-1979.
Other Pertinent Facts and Information
According to Mr. Dan McAlister there was a tower on the old John B. Denton Building with a bell the size of the Liberty Bell. Every morning when school was to start, the bell was rung and one could hear the sound all over Denton. The tower and the entire third floor of the building were later removed for safety reasons. Mr. McAlister also told a story about a water tower that used to stand in the southwest corner of the campus. This tower held the city's water supply with pipes coming from the wells outside the city and back to the housing areas. Students liked to climb the tower and print sayings such as you might find today if the tower were still standing. "Even repeated lectures did not discourage kids from climbing the tower, so a $25.00 fine was imposed on those caught disobeying," Mr. McAlister stated. The buildings are not all new, but the spirit and enthusiasm of approximately 800 students are present at Calhoun Middle School each day. Many Broncos, Colts, and Cougars are proud to say that they are the alumni of the old red brick building on Congress Street. Even today each faculty member and student will agree that there are great things ahead for this grand old school.