SHS celebrates 20th anniversary


Genell McClendon

Science teacher Denise Shupe taught four current faculty members, social studies teacher AJ Roland, CTE teacher Joshua Gross and math teacher Joseph Fagyas, when they attended SHS. Her fourth former student, social studies teacher Scott Wingo, was not available for the photograph.

Katelyn Serrano, Staff Writer

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the opening of SHS.  While the school has undergone some dramatic changes over the years, almost all of the school traditions come from that inaugural year. 

Steve Hammerle was the first principal at SHS. The school opened in the fall of 2002 with only freshmen and sophomore classes.  Each year a class was added, so the first graduating class was in the spring of 2005. 

“I spent 11 or 12 years there, and it was just an amazing part of my career to be able to be there to open Sachse High School and to welcome new students,” Hammerle said.

Principal Shae Creel and Steve Hammerle, the first SHS principal, get the crowd pumped up at the community homecoming pep rally (Genell McClendon)

One of the first traditions that any school needs to establish is the fight song and alma mater. The SHS fight song and alma mater were written and arranged by the first band director and choir director. 

The fight song is based on ‘On Wisconsin.’  I wrote the original arrangement and the lyrics,” Allan Goodwin, the first band director at SHS said. “I was looking for something that matched the number of syllables in Sachse High School.”

 “On Wisconsin,” the fight song for the University of Wisconsin, is a popular tune used for many high school fight songs across the country.

Goodwin also said the first choir director, Vonda Bowling, selected the hymn tune that the alma mater was based on, and wrote the lyrics.  The tune is from the refrain of the 1917 hymn by Thomas Chisolm, “Living for Jesus.”

The fight song and alma mater are far from the only traditions established when the school first opened.

We created the homecoming court so that all four grades could be involved,”  Hammerle said. “Some high schools that I’ve been involved with, the homecoming court was only seniors, and we really wanted to include all grade levels. That’s why we have the Lord and the Lady, the Duke and the Dutchess, the Prince and Princess, and then the King and the Queen.”

Most of the traditions though, according to Hammerle, the student body helped establish. 

“We really backed off–the principals and the teachers,” Hammerle said. “We wanted the students to establish the student traditions.”

While the traditions endure, the building has gone through quite a few changes.

“The first year we started, we only used the downstairs,” English teacher Stephen Aguilar said. “There were only two classes here, there was a sophomore and a freshman class.” 

Aguilar is one of 10 faculty and staff members who have been at SHS since it opened in the fall of 2002. 

“The annex, ya’ know, that’s all new addition stuff,” he said. “They added the 1000 wing, the 2000 wing. They’re brand new. The portables that are all out there weren’t there.”

Most recently, the band hall and choir rooms have been remodeled and expanded.

The additions to the building were a result of the growing student population.

“We only opened with 750 students, and every year we grew, and we grew,” Hammerle said. “It’s my understanding that it’s the largest high school by population of the seven (GISD) high schools.”

Out of the growing population of students, more than a few returned to teach after graduating from SHS. 

Currently there are eight teachers who are SHS graduates. Social studies teacher Scott Wingo is a Class of 2006 graduate, and a member of the first freshman class at SHS.

Others include:  Class of 2008 CTE teacher Joshua Gross, Class of 2009 graduates math teacher Joseph Fagyas and Spanish teacher Tito Ortega, Class of 2010 graduate special education teacher Stephanie Ingram, Class of 2013 graduate family and consumer sciences teacher Kristen Dozier, Class of 2014 graduate social studies teacher AJ Roland, and most recently Class of 2019 graduate special education aide Mary Morgan.

“I think that is an absolute feather in our hat, if you will, that they had such a great experience here as a student at SHS, that they would want to come back and give back to the community,” science teacher Denise Shupe said. “I’m incredibly proud.”

Shupe taught four of the current teachers who graduated from SHS, including Fagyas and Wingo. 

“It was kinda’ a no-brainer that being back in this area and wanting to teach at a great school, SHS is the choice,” Fagyas said. 

Both teachers formed personal connections with their former teachers and now their colleagues while they were students here. 

“I was still close with Coach Burrow, who’s the current baseball coach and was also my coach. We talked as I made my way through college baseball and through college,” Wingo said. “When I finished, I asked if there was a spot, and there was a JV spot available. This is the only place I interviewed at, and I got the job. It was a place I knew, a place I enjoyed being at.”

Each of them have their own advice for their students that they learned from personal experience while they were here.

“Make sure you’re focusing on your school work and learning, and making the most of your time here,” Fagyas said, “You have to be here so you might as well be here and be learning and absorbing everything.”

“Just take advantage of your time here. Don’t waste it,” Wingo said. “Don’t waste a year or two and then think you can catch up.”

But not all of their advice was education based.

“But also have fun. Don’t get so overwhelmed with everything going on that you forget that you’re a teenager, and you should have fun,” Fagyas said. “High school goes by really quick–and college too.”

Throughout all the changes SHS has gone through, one thing will always remain, and that’s the memories. 

“I was a class sponsor for 2014 and helping them with prom and things like that,” Aguilar said. “It was a lot of work. I was standing at the Dallas World Aquarium where we had prom, and I was looking at what we accomplished. It was a nice memory.”

Many teachers who have been here since the beginning can recount fond memories throughout the years. 

“Probably one of the biggest, greatest memories were the graduations,” Hammerle said. ”I just love graduations. Graduation rehearsals, handing out the cap and gown, the senior awards assembly, where we bring the top 10 students up on the stage. The senior awards assembly was great.”

Some of the greatest memories teachers have will often be traced back to the students of the school. 

“I’ve gone to medical school graduations,” Shupe said.  “One of my students became an accountant. I went to her graduation. I’ve been to baby showers, weddings of kids who have graduated through the years, and I love it.” 

Even though the school is ever changing, the bonds made by students and staff alike will stay forever. 

“The environment here has made me want to stay,” Aguilar said.  “The students make me want to stay. The staff makes me want to stay. The administration has made me want to stay.”