Odessa high School - Over a Century of Excellance

Odessa High School

Odessa High School

Early History for Public Education in Ector County

Decade - 1910


Three girls, Floy Johnson, Bernice Judkins and Mary Massey, received their high school diplomas as the first graduating class of Odessa High School.


School consolidation: By 1913, the County Line, Fairview and Judkins school districts existed in name only. Their wooden school buildings had become so dilapidated that they could no longer be used. Except for ranch and private schools, the red brick schoolhouse in Odessa was the only school operating in Ector County.

Early resident: Having just completed the 10th grade, John Evans had intended only to spend the summer visiting his father, who had moved to Odessa around 1910 and started a grocery business. John did not return to his home in Fort Worth that fall, however. Instead he began attending Odessa High School, and became one of three members of its 1914 graduating class. Evans later recalled that while he was growing up, Odessa was a very isolated town. The sand beds between Odessa and Monahans were uncrossable, and a trip to San Antonio took more than two days. According to Evans, the railroad was the main source of entertainment in the small community. He and his friends would go down to the depot on weekends to "people watch" as arriving passengers pulled into the train station. Evans also remembered that when the train would stop to take on water, the railroad workers would empty the ashes from the coal burners onto a pile by the water towers. Evans said the pile of ashes inspired a resident to put them to use: "Somebody got the bright idea that they could pave Grant with those ashes. Cinders. They scattered that up and down Grant Street. I remember walking up and down the street there while the wind was really blowing and those cinders were peppering my face like BB shot. It didn't do much good."

Once, after a prolonged dry spell, Evans and his youngest daughter were shopping in town when a sudden rainstorm hit. Though many people began cheering in the streets, the child was thoroughly exasperated. She asked, "Daddy, what is it? I don't like it!" She had never seen rain.


Pegues-Bates: High school sweethearts Henry Pegues and Emily Bates married on July 12, 1916, after graduating from Odessa High together in 1912. In those days, mesquite bushes grew along Grant Street, and there were hitching posts in front of the bank. The newlyweds traveled all the way to Dallas to purchase furniture for their new ranch home, a five-room house that they bought for $2,200 and furnished for around $500.