Highland Park High School (University Park, Texas)

Highland Park High School (often shortened HPHS or HP) is a public, co-educational high school located immediately north of downtown Dallas in University Park, Dallas County, Texas. It is a part of the Highland Park Independent School District, which serves approximately 32,200 residents who are predominantly college-educated professionals and business leaders in the Dallas community.[5] It serves:[6] all of the city of University Park,[7] most of the town of Highland Park,[8] and portions of Dallas.[9]

Highland Park High School
Highland ParkHigh School Seal.svg
University Park July 2016 40 (Highland Park High School).jpg
4220 Emerson Avenue

, ,

United States
Coordinates32°50′50″N 96°48′27″W / 32.84735°N 96.80761°W / 32.84735; -96.80761Coordinates: 32°50′50″N 96°48′27″W / 32.84735°N 96.80761°W / 32.84735; -96.80761
TypePublic high school
MottoEnter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve
Established1922; 100 years ago (1922)
School districtHighland Park Independent School District
PrincipalJeremy Gilbert[1]
Teaching staff144.76 (FTE) (2018–19)[2]
Enrollment2,148 (2018–19)[2]
Student to teacher ratio14.84 (2018–19)[2]
CampusSuburb: Large[2]
Color(s)  Gold
  Dark Blue
AthleticsBaseball • basketball • cross country • football • golf • gymnastics • powerlifting • soccer • softball • swimming and diving • tennis • track and field • volleyball • wrestling
Athletics conferenceUIL Division I Region 2 District 6-5A[3]
USNWR ranking#210 (2019)[4]
NewspaperThe Bagpipe
YearbookThe Highlander
BandHighlander Band
Drill TeamHighland Belles

As of the 2016-17 school year, Highland Park had an enrollment of 2,160 students and 153.19 teaching staff (on an FTE basis).[2] The CEEB code for Highland Park High School is 441740. The campus code for TEA reporting purposes is 057911001 (based on the HPISD code of 057911).


The first building was the yellow brick schoolhouse of the Armstrong School which opened on October 12, 1915. The Armstrong School only served children through ninth grade.[10][11] In 1922, the high school moved to its own separate building on Normandy Avenue following HPISD's purchase of 11 lots in 1920. The tenth grade was added in the fall of 1922, and the eleventh grade a year later. In 1924, 34 students became the first graduating class of the Highland Park Independent School District when they participated in the first-ever high school graduation ceremony of HPISD on June 2, 1924[12] (at that time, only eleven years of school were required prior to college admittance; it was not until 1937 that the twelfth grade was added.)[13] The school yearbook for that year, the 1924 Highlander, had a paragraph reading:

Many schools live merely on the momentum and traditions they have gathered in the more flourishing days of past. We are proud of our short past, but we are prouder of the Highland Park High School that is to be.[11]

This first location (at the corner of Normandy Avenue and High School Avenue) later became the district's middle school in 1937 when the current Highland Park High School building was erected on Emerson Avenue. The old building became the Highland Park Junior High School, which in later years was renamed Arch H. McCulloch Middle School. The school added the fifth grade and split into Highland Park Middle School for grades 7 and 8 and Arch H. McCulloch Intermediate School for 5th and 6th graders upon moving to a new facility after which the old building was demolished.[14] The street adjacent to the current middle school is named High School Avenue to this day.

Eugene Lawler was the first principal. The complete list of principals through the present day is as follows:

Principals of Highland Park High School[15]
Years Active Name
1923–28 Eugene Lawler
1928–63 Ben Wiseman
1963–66 C. D. Bowlby
1966–73 Everett Hart
1973–82 E. A. Sigler
1982–86 Tom Munroe
1986–90 Jim Gibson
1990–94 Don O'Quinn
1994–95 Linda Springer
1995–98 Jean Rutherford
1998–2000 Robert Albano
2000–02 Robert Jolly (interim)
2002–10 Patrick Cates
2010–20 Walter Kelly
2020–Present Jeremy Gilbert

Wiseman, Sr. was principal for 34 years, retiring in 1962. Wiseman was a decorated Captain in the United States Army and served in combat during World War II.[11] Wiseman was featured in 1960 in Look Magazine's May edition. Wiseman is credited for developing the first language laboratory in a public school in the United States. Convinced that students learned quickly by what they heard, he solicited funds from several prominent Highland Park businessmen to provide the reel-to-reel tape recorders needed to record and re-play the daily lesson plan. He then created a language lab. Mr. Wiseman had the first remedial reading classes in a public school in the United States for the condition known today as dyslexia, Mr. Wiseman tutored his own grandson,[11]

In 1987 the HPISD school board voted to not to petition the University Interscholastic League (UIL) to keep Highland Park High School in athletic class 5A; the UIL had the possibility of demoting Highland Park High School to athletic class 4A as part of its biannual reclassification.[16] Since then, an old joke told around the UIL's bi-annual reclassification is that the cutoff for Class 4A is "Highland Park plus two", though in practice the school's enrollment has been well below the normal cutoff. In the 2014 reclassifications, the school moved up to 6A (a new classification added by the UIL as part of a larger reclassification). In the 2016 reclassifications, the school moved down to 5A. Much speculation over the upcoming 2018 reclassifications exists; there is a possibility the school will move back up to 6A. The average class size is 30 students per teacher, with about 550 students in a grade.[5]

In 2003, a four-year remodeling of the school was completed which added a new wing to provide more classroom space and allow for a new, larger cafeteria. In 2015, a $361.4 million bond package passed HPISD board approval and citizens' vote[17] which would allow for new parking spaces and renovations to the attached tennis center and natatorium—eventually eliminating the natatorium and replacing it with classrooms.[18]

Currently, Highland Park High School is the only high school in the Highland Park Independent School District.[4]

Other schools in the district include University Park Elementary, Robert S. Hyer Elementary, John S. Armstrong Elementary, John S. Bradfield Elementary and a fifth school which has not yet been named. These five schools feed into Arch H. McCulloch Intermediate School and Highland Park Middle School, both of which are housed in the same building.

Recent eventsEdit

In 1999, Dallas police issued 200 alcohol and curfew violations citations to Park Cities teens partying in a Deep Ellum warehouse. CNN picked up the story, and after it emerged that parents had rented the facility and contracted a bus company to safely deliver high school students to and from the party, the Alliance on Underage Drinking (ALOUD) started the "Parents Who Host, Lose the Most" campaign, which informs parents about health, safety and legal ramifications of serving alcohol to underage individuals.[19]

In late 2004, Simon & Schuster published young adult author Francine Pascal's The Ruling Class, a teen drama set at Highland Park High School. The school's newspaper The Bagpipe published community reactions to the book and online reviews are mixed.[20]

In late 2005, The Dallas Morning News published a story about the Friday of Highland Park's homecoming spirit week, on which several seniors dressed as thugs, Mexicans, maids and other caricatures of racial minorities. Some pointed to this as support for the general perception of Highland Park High School and the Park Cities as a "bubble" (as the area is known in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex). The article ignited a storm of letter-writing and editorializing to and in the Morning News. Soon after the article was published, two swastikas were spray-painted on a sign in front of the school.

In 2005 and 2006, Highland Park students received a multitude of state and national awards, and established several new records in Texas.[21] The UIL Science Team, under the leadership of AP Chemistry teacher Wenzen Chuang, won state for the second time in the history of the high school. The Bagpipe newspaper received the Gold Crown Award for excellence in journalism in 2005 and later that year was one of 15 high schools in the country to win an NSPA Pacemaker. The same year, the school's yearbook, The Highlander, was chosen as a finalist for the NSPA Pacemaker award and Highland Park Television was chosen as a finalist for the NSPA Broadcast Pacemaker; Highland Park Television won the award the following year. The Bagpipe received a second Gold Crown Award in 2011, for the previous year's newspaper. The Highlander has won many awards in recent years, including a Gold Crown Award in 2018 as well as a Pacemaker award in 2019.

In the winter of 2012 and the early spring of 2013, numerous bomb threats were found across the campus. Students and faculty were released early three times, and eventually the FBI was called in. An arrest was made in April 2013.

In 2013, the stage of the high school's auditorium (Palmer Auditorium) was honorarily named after Linda Raya, a longtime drama teacher at the school. Raya's 40+ year career at Highland Park oversaw the production of countless theatrical productions, which now continue to be produced on the newly named Linda Raya Stage.[22]

HPISD, Highland Park High School, and Superintendent Dawson Orr received national attention in September 2014 for the controversial banning of seven books previously used in high school English studies, after a group of parents protested the contents of these books.[23] The seven books were: "The Art of Racing in the Rain," by Garth Stein; "The Working Poor: Invisible in America," by David K. Shipler; "Siddhartha," by Hermann Hesse; "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian," by Sherman Alexie; "An Abundance of Katherines," by John Green; "The Glass Castle," by Jeannette Walls; and "Song of Solomon" by Toni Morrison.

September 29, 2014, Orr reversed his decision to suspend the books, stating in an email to parents, "I made the decision in an attempt to de-escalate the conflict, and I readily admit that it had the opposite effect. I take full responsibility for the decision, and I apologize for the disruption it has caused."[24]

In 2015, Orr retired and was replaced by Dr. Tom Trigg who had previously served as the superintendent of Blue Valley Unified School District in Overland Park, Kansas. Dr. Trigg's salary upon hiring was notable for its size, coming in at a base of $325,000 (compared to Dallas ISD's superintendent salary of $306,000).[25]


In 2005, Sports Illustrated listed HP as the best sports program in the state of Texas (16th in the US).[26]


The baseball team's games are held at Scotland Yard (Highland Park), a cleverly named baseball field immediately north of the high school campus.

Swimming and divingEdit

The Highland Park Girls Swimming and Diving team holds the record in all of UIL history for ten consecutive state titles.


As of the end of the 2020 season, the school's tennis team has won 21 state titles, making it the school's most successful sport.[27] From the start of the 2008 season until November 2015, the team kept an unbroken winning streak of 174 consecutive matches won. The streak was broken on 11 November 2015 when Highland Park lost to New Braunfels in the 6A semi-finals, marking the first time since 1999 that Highland Park would not compete in the state championship.[28] From 2008 through 2014, the team won 8 consecutive state titles. The team returned to win the 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 state titles.


20th centuryEdit

In 1920s, Bryan Street High School players called Highland Park's football team the "silk stocking boys." Games between the two caused so many riots between the spectators that they were banned from playing each other. Coach H. B. Howard was the football coach at the time.[10] Dr. Shirley Hodges, a local Dallas pediatrician, served on the HPISD School Board and was the first team doctor for the football team.[11] Coached by Rusty Russell (1942–45) and led by Doak Walker and Bobby Layne, the Scots made it to the championship game two consecutive times in 1944 and 1945. After losing 20-7 to Port Arthur in 1944, Highland Park battled Waco to a 7-7 tie in the 1945 state championship in front of a record 45,790-person crowd at the Cotton Bowl[29] to become co-champions. In 1947, Highland Park lost the state final 22-13 to San Antonio Brackenridge, while in 1957 they defeated Port Arthur 21-9 under the guidance of Thurman Jones.

21st centuryEdit

The Highland Park football team is currently coached by Randy Allen, who holds a 361-86-6 record as of 2016, making him the second winningest active high school football coach in Texas and the fourth winningest of all-time in Texas.[30][31] In January 2014, Allen was chosen as recipient of the 2013 Grant Teaff Fellowship of Christian Athletes Lifetime Achievement Award, joining such coaching greats as Tony Dungy and Bobby Bowden. As of the end of the 2018 season, Allen has led the Scots to four state titles under his coaching (2005, 2016, 2017,and 2018).

In 2005, Matthew Stafford led Highland Park to an undefeated season for the 4A Division I state championship. The 2005 season was Highland Park's only undefeated, untied season in program history. After a highly successful college career at the University of Georgia, he was drafted first overall by the Detroit Lions at the 2009 NFL Draft. The team beat Marshall 59-0, the largest margin-of-victory ever in a UIL 11-man state championship football game.

In 2007, the Scots went undefeated into the state final against Austin Lake Travis, but lost 36-34. As of 2007, Highland Park Scots football teams had made a state-record 49 playoff appearances.

In 2016, the Scots won the Division I 5A state final against Temple, Texas, 16-7.

In 2017, the Scots won the Division I 5A state final against Manvel, Texas, 53-49 on 22 December 2017 in front of 24,975 people in AT&T Stadium.[32] The Scots overcame a 10-point deficit in the final three minutes of the game and won the game just as Manvel was one yard from scoring again.[33] Together with the 2016 title, marked the school's first ever back-to-back state championship wins. The 2017 season broke the school record for the most points scored in a single season by the Scots with 732 points in 16 games. As of 2017, they have had eight state finals appearances (and won five of them).

In 2018, Highland Park won their 3rd straight state championship in a game against Shadow Creek and completed a perfect 16-0 record.[34]

In 2019, the Scots were the Division I 5A divisional champions.

Cross countryEdit

The Highland Park girls cross country team has set numerous records throughout the years; having sent a runner to the state meet every year since the first year the program was created. This cross country team has won more state championships than any other cross country team in the state of Texas.[35][36][37]


As of the close of the 2017 season, the Highland Park boys lacrosse team has won 7 Division I and 4 Division II Texas High School Lacrosse League (THSLL) state championships. This includes two years (2012 and 2015) in which both the DI and DII teams won their respective state titles simultaneously.[38] DII titles are notable for the reason that many Texas high schools do not compete at the DI level, making DII titles the highest achievement for many schools. The team has included 23 US Lacrosse All-Americans since 2004.[39]

The DI team was coached by Derek Thomson through the 2017 season. Thomson led the team to all 7 DI titles and won the THSLL Coach of the Year award twice. Upon his retirement, Thomson was also awarded the Earl Bill Award by the THSLL commissioner. Beginning in the 2018 season,

Highland Park has fostered the development of a total of 28 players who went on to play Division I NCAA lacrosse in college.[40]

Of the 7 DI state titles, it is notable that 3 have been in victories over St. Mark's School of Texas (2009, 2010, and 2012) and 2 have been in victories over the Episcopal School of Dallas (ESD) (2005 and 2008). St. Mark's and ESD are both located in Dallas near to Highland Park. Other rivals include Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas (another Dallas-based team) which beat Highland Park in the 2016 and 2017 state DI title games.

Unique among Highland Park High School's sports, the lacrosse team is not school-run because lacrosse is not a UIL-sanctioned sport. The team runs as a private organization.


The drill team at Highland Park High School is called the Highland Park Belles. They perform dance routines at halftime during football games and during pep rallies, as well as attending other events. The Belles were founded in 1983–84 with Cathy Wheat as director. Wheat is a member of the National Drill Team Directors Hall of Fame. She was director of the Irving High School Toy Tigers for 10 years before founding the Belles for whom she served as director for 23 years.[41] Angie Harmon, a Highland Park graduate, credits Wheat with inspiring her to have confidence as an actress.[42] The Belles hold an annual fundraiser named "Spaghetti Supper." They sell tickets to Highland Park students and staff and to the rest of the Highland Park community. All of the money raised goes to fund the team's needs.[43] A girl must go through and pass a rigorous tryout process to become a member of the Belles.

Field hockeyEdit

While it is not an official sport for the school, Highland Park does have a field hockey team. The team, founded in 2009, is considered a club team. Try-outs are held every spring to form both the Junior Varsity and Varsity teams. The field hockey season starts in August and goes through November. The team plays against other teams in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

State titlesEdit

  • Baseball[44]
    • 1998(4A)
  • Girls Cross Country[35]
    • 1981(5A), 1982(5A), 1988(4A), 1989(4A), 1992(4A), 1997(4A), 1998(4A), 1999(4A), 2001(4A), 2002(4A), 2004(4A), 2010(4A), 2011(4A), 2012(4A)
  • Football[45]
    • 1945(All), 1957(ALL), 2005(4A), 2016 (5A DI), 2017 (5A DI), 2018 (5A D1)
  • Boys Golf[46]
    • 1950(2A), 1951(2A), 1977(4A), 1989(4A), 1990(4A), 1991(4A), 1992(4A), 1993(4A), 2001(4A), 2002(4A), 2003(4A), 2005(4A), 2006(4A), 2008(4A), 2010(4A), 2013(4A), 2019(5A)
  • Girls Golf[47]
    • 1998(4A), 1999(4A), 2000(4A), 2008(4A)
  • Boys Lacrosse[39]
    • Division I: 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2015
    • Division II: 2008, 2012, 2015, 2018
  • Girls Soccer[48]
    • 1994 (All), 1996 (All), 2000 (4A), 2002 (4A), 2012(4A), 2016 (5A)
  • Boys Swimming[49]
    • 2000(4A), 2017(5A), 2018 (5A)
  • Girls Swimming[50]
    • 2001(4A), 2002(4A), 2003(4A), 2004(4A), 2005(4A), 2006(4A), 2007(4A), 2008(4A), 2009(4A), 2010(4A)
  • Team Tennis (22)[51][52][53]
    • 1982–83 (5A), 1989–90 (4A), 1990–91 (4A), 1991–92 (4A), 1997–98 (4A), 2001–02 (4A), 2003–04 (4A), 2004–05 (4A), 2005–06 (4A), 2006–07 (4A), 2008–09 (4A), 2009–10 (4A), 2010–11 (4A), 2011–12 (4A), 2012–13 (4A), 2013–14 (4A), 2014–15 (6A), 2016–17 (5A), 2018–19 (5A), 2019-2020 (5A), 2020-2021 (5A, 2021-2022 (5A)
  • Boys Track[54]
    • 1940(All)
  • Boys Wrestling[55]
    • 1999(All), 2000(All), 2003(All), 2005(All), 2006(All)

Highland Park holds the UIL record for most athletic state titles by one school[citation needed]: 77 (in all classes).


Standardized testingEdit

National Merit Scholarship programEdit

Students at Highland Park take the PSAT in grades 10 and 11 and thus qualify for National Merit Scholarship Program awards. The following table summarizes recent years' awards:

NMSP Awards by Graduating Year[5]
2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022[56]
Finalists 7 14 14 26 14 25 11 13 *
Semifinalists 8 14 16 27 14 26 12 13 14
Commended 39 36 47 36 40 24 35 32 *
Hispanic Scholars 6 6 7 5 9 14 3 5 14
African American Scholars 2 2


About 99% of Highland Park students take the SAT or ACT.[57] The average SAT score in 2015–16 was 1833 (out of 2400) compared to a national average score of 1243. The average ACT score in 2015–16 was a 27.6 (out of 36) compared to a national average score of 20.6.[5]

Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB)Edit

Most Highland Park students choose to take AP courses; Highland Park High School does not offer IB courses. The high school offers open enrollment for more than 20 AP courses. All students enrolled in AP courses are required by the high school to take the relevant AP exam. Of the students at Highland Park, 78.6% choose to take an AP class and the ensuing exam in May 2015 compared to the state average of 24.9%.[57][58] To illustrate how many students take exams, in May 2017, 1,093 Highland Park students took a combined 2,900 AP exams.[5] In May 2015, 78.9% of exams taken were also passed, meaning the student received a score of 3 or higher.[5][57][58] That compares to a state passing rate of 49.1% in May 2015[58] and a national passing rate of 67% in May 2017.[59]


Highland Park High School has a graduation rate that is consistently above 98%, compared to the state average of 89.0% in 2015. The 6-year longitudinal graduation rate was 99.8% compared to the state average of 90.9%.[58] 86.0% of HPHS graduates in 2015 were rated college-ready in both English Language Arts and Mathematics by the TEA compared to a state average of 35.0%.[58] Scholarships offered to the graduating class of 2016 exceeded a comparable monetary value of $14,500,000—almost $30,000 per senior.[5] After graduation, 94% of the graduating class of 2016 matriculated to a four-year college, including Harvard, Stanford, West Point, and Air Force.[5] Other Highland Park graduates have studied at Princeton, Yale, Dartmouth, and other institutions.



The Highlander Band's performance includes making its first-ever UIL State Marching Band finals appearance in 2017 where the band made the top ten.[60] Their success continued into 2019 when they earned 2nd place in the UIL State Marching Band finals, marking the highest state placement of the band in its history.[61]


In the September 1981 issue of Money Magazine, Highland Park was ranked as one of the top twelve public high schools in the United States, and in January 1984 Parade Magazine listed Highland Park as among the top fifteen schools in the United States.[62] In 2008, Highland Park was ranked 15th in Newsweek Magazine's list of the top public high schools in the United States,[63] based on the Challenge Index by Jay Mathews. Highland Park High School has been named a National Blue Ribbon School on two occasions, in 1984-85[64] and again in 2007.[65] In 2012, Highland Park was ranked 8th out of the top 10 high schools in North Texas by Children at Risk, a research and advocacy institute dedicated to helping children. In 2016, Highland Park was named one of "America's Best High Schools" by Newsweek Magazine and earned a spot on U.S. News & World Report's Gold Medal list of top high schools.[5] In 2019, U.S. News & World Report ranked Highland Park the 210th best high school in the U.S. and 35th in Texas.[4]

Literary festivalEdit

In 1995, the first Highland Park Literary Festival began as a collaboration between interested parents and the English Department. The event has become an annual festival where HPHS students have enjoyed meeting, working with, and learning from distinguished writers, including George Plimpton, Doug Wright, Michael Chabon, Marion Winik, Scott Simon, Tim O'Brien, Russell Banks, Anchee Min, Billy Collins, Tobias Wolff, and Jamie Ford.[66]


The Park Cities (Highland Park and University Park) are often referred to as "The Bubble."[67]

The Texas Education Agency campus profiles state that the funds spent per student at Highland Park are similar in amount to those spent per student at Woodrow Wilson High School.[68]

The average teacher's salary at HPHS is $60,770 compared to the state average of $51,891.[58]

Student bodyEdit

According to The Dallas Morning News, in 2005 the high school's ethnic makeup was about 99% white.[67] By 2014, that number dropped to 90.3% of the graduating class being white. In 2015, 89.1% of the graduating class was white.[69] In the 2015–16 school year, 88.4% of the Highland Park High School student body was white.[58]

In the 2010–11 school year HPHS had no low income students.[70] By the 2015–16 school year, that number remained at 0.0% economically disadvantaged students for the entire District.[57] In 2010–11, 7.9% of the students were considered "at risk,"[70] but in 2015–16 that rose to 11.4%.[57] About 80% of students partake in extracurricular activities, and over 50% partake in athletic teams.

By 2011 a The Dallas Morning News report stated that 93% of HPHS students were "college-ready" (ready to attend post-secondary educational institutions).[70]

Although students are only required to complete 50 hours of community service to graduate, the graduating class of 2017 averaged 150 hours per senior.[5]

Notable alumniEdit




  • James A Baker, Justice of the Texas Supreme Court, 1995–2002.
  • Chris Bell, US House of Representatives, 25th Congressional District, 2003–05
  • Bill Clements, Governor of Texas, 1979–83, 1987–91
  • Starke Taylor, Mayor of Dallas, 1983–87, cotton investor



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