JD Hall - The Man and The School
One cannot adequately know the history of the J.D. Hall school without knowing the man and educator who is the facility’s namesake.
James Douglas Hall was the first African American Assistant Superintendent of Education in the Lancaster Independent School District (LISD) in 1997. He received his Degree of Doctor of Humanities from Paul Quinn College. Hall was also the principal of Rocky Crest, which is now known as J.D. Hall.
Back then, the School Board never made it official to call that school “Rocky Crest,” but referred to it as the “Colored School.” It not only served as a school but also as a meeting place for citizens of the African American community for special events.
Before Hall accomplished all of the above, he worked as a teacher at Rocky Crest in 1954. He credits J.E. Dawson, Superintendent of Lancaster ISD for all his success in the educational field.
“When it came time for us to integrate, Mr. Dawson turned it over to me. I don’t know of any district anywhere that the process went as smoothly as it did here. I owe this to the citizens. Every place should have had the kind of people Lancaster had,” Hall wrote in his memoirs.
Rocky Crest was not used for several years as an educational facility. As the years went by, the district turned the facility into an alternative school, later named J.D. Hall after its late contributor. Citizens of Lancaster voted to save this building, built in 1878, and make it an active part of the city’s history.
A renovation for the campus facilities was approved with a $1.5 million grant for a project. A museum for Rocky Crest history was created as part of the renovation. Some items from the school’s past are displayed in the museum, with more being cataloged and added regularly. Students from the past have have also contributed by telling their stories.
There is a meeting January 28 at 1 p.m. for former Rocky Crest students. They will share their stories, which will then be categorized and added to the museum’s artifacts.
A Texas historical marker will soon be placed at J.D. Hall, commemorating the importance the building - and the educator - have for this community.
Written by Alexis Grant
, Student JournalistLancaster ISD Courier
, January 13, 2012