HISTORY OF MAGNOLIA HEIGHTS
Magnolia Heights School was the dream of a group of citizens who felt the need for alternative education in the Tate county area for any child interested in a college preparatory education. The site for the new school would be a 30 acre plot of land just south of Senatobia for easy access from Tate, Panola, and Desoto counties. With strong parental involvement, which included clearing land, moving desks, assembling lockers, painting classrooms, installing chalkboards, as well as many other needed services, the new main building with fifteen classrooms, a science lab, and main offices opened with the name Magnolia Heights School for the 1970-71 school session. 223 students attended the first session under headmaster Jamie Howell with the first senior class graduating fifteen students in May 1971 on the front campus of the school. Included in the first faculty of fifteen teachers hired was Maefred House, who continued to teach science until her retirement in 1995 and then worked as a substitute for years afterward.
Members of the first Board of Directors were Nat Troutt (Chairman); Perrin Caldwell, W.B. Hall, A.M. Adams, Earl Embrey, Leon Hannaford, John May, Gregg Mitchell, Bill Roberts, and Jerry Veazey. The school received initial accreditation from Mississippi State Department of Education and the Mississippi Private School Association. Magnolia Heights also organized its first athletic teams, fielding squads in high school football, basketball, and baseball. The parents also organized the first Parents' Club, Booster Club, and started a Memorial Fund to plant magnolia trees along the school drive and to fund other landscaping projects on the campus.
The enrollment of the new school increased as more people became aware of the challenging and rewarding educational program. In the fall of 1971, 225 students were enrolled, and plans were made for the construction of a new gym which was finished in 1972. In 1973 the school added four more elementary classrooms on the south end of the main building to accommodate increased enrollment. Construction was also completed on the football stadium. By 1974-75 Magnolia Heights had become a respected leader in the MPSA and hosted its first state basketball tournament. In 1976, Don Christenberry was elected the school's second headmaster, and the nation's bicentennial was celebrated at MHS by the presentation of an 8' X 8' wall mural (by Cheryl Milton, Buford Givens, and James Michael McKie) commemorating our national heritage.
Due to continued growth in the school enrollment, the "Little Red Schoolhouse" was constructed in 1978, and Harriet Goshorn welcomed twenty-seven kindergarten students. Coach Robert Poole led the varsity football team and the school's first state championship, and Vance Veazey, Doug Beavers, Patrum Veazey, Chuck Miles, and Jim Howell won the school's first overall state championship in golf. In 1980, additional classrooms and a full-service cafeteria were added with the construction of a building on the north side of the gym. Magnolia Heights also received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, becoming the first northwest Mississippi private school accredited and one of the first state-wide.
In 1981, Dr. Marvin Lishman was elected the school's third headmaster. The curriculum was revamped and a much greater emphasis was placed on the college preparatory nature of the school. A daily rotating class schedule was also introduced to add variety to the school week and is still in use today.
As the school grew, so did the accomplishments of the many MHS athletic programs. In 1977 the varsity football team won the MPSA "A" state championship and going undefeated. David Baxter led the Chiefs to their first tennis state championship in 1982, and in 1985 Coach Jamie Howell and Jim Patterson led the Lady Chiefs to a perfect 37-0 record with a State AA and Overall State Championship in basketball. The boys basketball team also captured its first State AA Championship in 1985 and then captured its first Overall State Championship in 1987. In 1986 construction was completed on the school's baseball field, and by 1989 the Chiefs had captured their first baseball state championship. By 2006 MHS was included in the highest possible MPSA classification and won 3 state championships in 6 years including a second perfect season by the varsity football team in 2006.
Over the years increased enrollment has continued to highlight the need for additional classroom space. In 1987, Magnolia Heights started its first four-year-old kindergarten class. Penny Mock Taylor welcomed fifteen students the first year. A year later a parallel program was started to help students with mild learning disabilities complete a difficult and challenging college preparatory curriculum. In 1989 four new middle school rooms were added, and in 1993 four additional high school classrooms, including a new state-of-the-art secondary technology center, were completed. In 1996 the school added a new kindergarten building to house the growing four-year-old and five-year-old programs; and Troutt Hall, a 12,000 square foot multi-purpose building with music and art rooms, a large stage, a basketball practice area, and a fully equipped commercial kitchen and dining area. Construction projects in the summer of 2004 consisted of a complete renovation of the school’s athletic facilities, as well as additional classroom space for four-year-old and five-year-old kindergarten classes.
Due to rapid growth in enrollment and a population explosion in the surrounding area, Magnolia Heights embarked on an ambitious renovation plan that would include the construction of a new facility dedicated to classrooms and to many renovations to the athletic facilities. In 2003 the gymnasium dressing rooms were greatly expanded and the old tile floor on the basketball court was replaced by a hardwood floor. New lighting and bleachers were added along with many aesthetic changes. This expansion also included football stadium replacement and new weight rooms. The next 18 months also saw the decision to expand the classroom space and give the elementary a new, modernized building. This new building, and renovations to the existing main building, would allow room for the ever expanding enrollment. In the spring of 2006 this renovation initiative added Baker Hall, a modern building consisting of more than 12,500 square feet of new classroom space. Also included in Baker hall was new office space built in front of the original school building to provide a new facade for the school. Baker Hall essentially doubled the size of the original building and is by far the largest construction project ever on the MHS campus. Included in this major renovation were double sized science labs for both junior high and high school students in the main building plus high school library renovation. Cosmetic changes like new fencing for the front lawn and around the football field and air conditioning the gymnasium took place at the same time. New fire, security and communications systems were added for the protection and convenience of the student body. This renovation will allow the enrollment to climb to more than 1,000 students and provides even more expansion possibilities for the future.