Message From the Superintendent

  • Where It All Began – A Message from Lamond Dean, CHISD Superintendent of Schools 

    I am excited about the future of Chapel Hill ISD! Before going any further, please allow me to set the stage by sharing history from the past that brought us to where we are today. Mrs. Earlene Bethea, Historian and former CHISD teacher, provided much of the accounts of history as seen below. Thanks to Mrs. Bethea, these accounts of history should give you an idea of just how far CHISD has come.

    The History of Chapel Hill Independent School District is comparable to a huge puzzle.
    Each piece contains its own identity, but in some mysterious way they all fit together to create a wonderful masterpiece. Drawing together from a tiny handful of simple one-room schools, New Chapel Hill created Consolidated Rural Schools. Eventually they integrated and consolidated the small schools to produce one school district.

    The school’s beginning is much like that of any other surrounding school district. Prior to the Civil War, C.B. Bascom and his family settled on Old Overton Road about eleven miles from Tyler. In December of 1894, J.E. Elliot moved his family from Alabama and settled near the Bascom place. Within a few years, other families began to move into the area and the need for a good school grew. After finding a schoolteacher who would board with one
    of the families, the men of the community built a one-room schoolhouse, which soon became known as the “Old Bascom School.” The years of the school’s existence are unknown.

    The Bascom school, located in the Bascom Community on the Bell-Acker road which is presently the Lake Tyler Road, dates back to the 1870s. Five different school sites served the Bascom community prior to the consolidation of the district. All of the Bascom Schools were on the Bell-Acker or Bascom Whitehouse Road.

    The following is an excerpt from Smith County Chronicles of Texas, written by Andrew Leath:

    “The first mention of an actual school building is a deed record of July 4, 1872, in which Reuben Clark deeded to Pickens Caldwell, Sr., Thomas M. Weaver, and R.M. Wright an acre of land ‘west of the center of the school’. This deed infers that a school building was present prior to 1872. The location would coincide with the land deed, in a wooden building surrounded by heavy woods. It was a one-room schoolhouse, with plank seats, one teacher and a dozen or so students. Teachers at that time were Thomas A. Pinkerton, George W. Galbraith, and Mit Adams.”

    “In about 1890, this school building was moved across the road to a location adjacent to and just south of Garrett’s store. Within a few years, the school was relocated just north of the upper cemetery. This was the site of the school in 1901 when Archie Evans was teacher.”

    “With the turn of the century and establishment of the Smith County Common School District, Bascom School District #32 was formed.”

    Bascom School went to the eighth grade and then sent students to Tyler Schools for ninth, tenth, and eleventh grades. Students learned the basics – math, history, English, spelling, and reading. In the year 1941 the Murph-Bascom Consolidation occurred. This new school, called Chapel Hill Consolidate Rural School, had a Superintendent by the name of D.T. Craver.

    A new school was in the planning stage and Bascom School site was used until it could move to the new site. The main building was completed in 1942 with the gymnasium, and a second classroom unit was ready in 1943. In 1950-51, Chapel Hill had its first graduating class, a small but proud group of twelve. The school had football, baseball, basketball, and volleyball teams. Also, the first band was added that year. CHS had several campus clubs including: Future Farmers of America, Future Homemakers of America, Paper Staff, Shorthand Club, and a Student Council.

    Jackson School was incorporated into the Chapel Hill Independent School District in 1945.
    The Jackson School system provided education for the black children of the community. This was the only high school for black students anywhere in Smith County except Tyler. The first organized sports were basketball and baseball in 1941. The Vocational Agriculture and the Home Economics programs were already added to their curriculum prior to the ‘40s. 

    In the early ‘60s a band hall and agriculture building were built. In the mid-60s cafetoriums for both campuses were built. The high school library and the field houses were also completed.

    Chapel Hill enjoyed victories in football, basketball, track, and baseball in 1941. The Vocational Agriculture and the Home Economics programs were added to their curriculum prior to the 40s.

    In the 1960s, Chapel Hill was still a 2-A school system with an enrollment of 275 students in the high school. In 1970, the enrollment level doubled and Chapel Hill became a 3-A school competitor. Because of the large enrollment increase in 1971, sixth, seventh and eighth grade students were moved to the Jackson campus. Many of the children were happy to have their own campus, but the athletic functions were held at the high school due to better facilities.

    At this time, the curriculum in Texas was expanded to include courses such as auto mechanics, metal trades, gainful homemaking, office education, and horticulture.

    On the morning December 17, 1979, the old middle school that at the time housed high school math classes caught on fire. Students were evacuated and forty-five minutes later, the building was virtually gone. Fortunately, no one was hurt.  Source: Earlene Bethea

    Today, CHISD is UIL classified as a large 4-A school. CHISD has five campuses covering an area of 117.74 square miles and borders the school districts of Winona, Kilgore, Arp, Whitehouse, Sabine, and Tyler. The total enrollment is approximately 3,600 students with 550+ employees. As mentioned earlier in the text, the first school had a dozen or so students and one teacher. The first graduating class of CHISD (the class of 1950-51) had 12 proud graduates. The graduating class of 2016-17 had 248 proud graduates. Indeed, we have come a long way!

    Although we have come a long way since that first one-room schoolhouse in 1872, one constant remains. Still at the heart of Chapel Hill ISD is the desire to give our students a bright future. It is the desire of everyone involved to give our students the knowledge, skills, and talent of good communication to be ready for all that lies ahead. With technology at the forefront presenting new challenges, the likes of which were non-existent in the late 1800’s, we realize we must engage our students in real world learning for a better future. Collaborating with our faculty, staff, school board, parents and the entire CHISD community, I believe the best days for CHISD (the future) are still ahead! Student Centered and Future Ready…


    Lamond Dean