HISTORY - ROBINSON ISD
Education has been a priority of the Robinson community since the 1800’s. In 1852, John Robinson, his wife, Sophie, and their four boys settled in what is present-day Robinson. Other settlers joined the Robinsons in this area. At that time, Robinson was known as Robinsonville. In the spring of 1853, a school was opened on the Robinson’s land. It was a small cabin (18ft X 18ft). The first teacher for our area students was a Mr. Moore from Fayette County. He was paid $20 per month and boarded with the Robinsons.
In 1860, the first public schoolhouse was built. It was located where Youngblood Memorial Presbyterian Church now stands. The school served around 100 students. Fifteen of those students boarded with the Robinsons.
In 1888, the Robinson Grade School was built for $600. The two-room school was both a private and public school for several years. It was even governed by two sets of trustees. However, the two groups split after control issues could not be resolved. The Robinson Academy continued as a private school. The highly acclaimed school served about 1000 students until 1928. On Sunday, November 24, 1928, the Robinson Academy was destroyed by fire. Professor John Strauss, who owned all stock in the Academy, gave the following quote following the fire, “the prospective future history of this erstwhile, well and favorably known educational institution vanished as in a dense cloud of smoke.” The basement of the Academy can still be seen on the O’Dowd property. Dr. Jeanie Johnson, RHS Principal, owns the house that Professor Strauss occupied when he was leading the Academy.
From 1898 until 1916, the public school operated in a two-room building. Robert Johnson sold this home to the Baptist Church. In 1916, the school location was moved again. Enough taxes were finally collected to build a two-story red brick building in the middle of a corn patch (the site of Robinson Primary that was vacated in 2001). After the fire at Robinson Academy, this public school became the town’s educational and social center. The following is a description of the school by Mrs. Virginia Wuebker: “I was a first grader there in 1934. Then and the following several years, the school remained as I describe it here: The present storage building on the Elementary campus (actually old Robinson Primary storage building previously mentioned) was the school building. It had the same rooms as now, but there was a second story, which included two classrooms and an auditorium. School plays and community programs were held there. It was always packed for these occasions. The Lone Star Play Boys would come and entertain. Clarence Hartwick also played there with his band.”
“The floors were wooden, and dust was kept down by oiling the floor or putting wood cinders on the floor with oil, and then sweeping. It was heated in the winter by a large wood burning stove, with a skirt around it, to protect people when getting too close.”
“Students of all ages were allowed to come to school barefoot in the summer. All girls wore dresses . . . no long pants. Lunches were brought from home, until later, when a building was erected away from the school for hot meals.”
“Restrooms were the outside variety. The boys’ building was on the north side of the school and the girls on the south. All ages played together at the same time. There was no gym. Boys and girls played baseball.”
The Robinson Grade School was becoming crowded, so in 1951, an addition was built. Two more classrooms were added in 1953. During this time, students wishing to attend high school had to go to Lorena, because Robinson only went through the eighth grade. Between 1960 and 1962, 12 more classrooms and a cafeteria were added. The original two-story building was made into a storeroom, and the top story was removed.
The origins of Robinson’s school colors are not definitely known. However, Joe Hatcher, former Robinson principal, had an interesting theory. Hatcher said that most likely when Robinson began to have a basketball team, uniforms were purchased. The cheapest uniforms available just happened to be blue and white. For a couple of years, around 1970, the color gold was added. After a few years, the gold color was dropped. The traditional blue and white continue to be Robinson’s colors to this day.
The choosing of the school mascot has a more definite story. The eighth grade class of 1957 picked the “Rocket” as the school mascot. Members of the girl’s basketball team were very influential on the decision of the rocket. The girl’s team was known as the “Rockettes.” In the early 1960’s, Rocketdyne in McGregor donated pieces of an old rocket to the school. Students then assembled it. The rocket is now located in front of Robinson Intermediate.
Robinson’s school song, “O, Robinson, Our Robinson” was written in 1966 by Mrs. Vivian Andrews. Mrs. Andrews was the sixth-grade music teacher at that time. During one class period, her sixth-grade music class was discussing the fact that Robinson did not have a school song. To demonstrate to her class how simple it would be to compose a school song, Mrs. Andrews played the tune, “Oh Tannenbaum” on the piano and sang the words “O Robinson.” The class responded by suggesting phrases for the second line, the third line, and so on. Mrs. Andrews composed the song, along with the help of her sixth-grade music students in one class period. The class kept singing the song and it began spreading around the school. Soon after the band began playing it, it became the school song.
In 1963, a high school was added to Robinson Independent School District. The building used for the high school is the current Robinson Intermediate building. A few years later in 1965, another building was built to become the new high school (currently Robinson JH). The old high school became the junior high school (Robinson Intermediate). In 1968, Rosenthal was incorporated into RISD.
Other than the Cafetorium and other smaller buildings, no other school was built until 1990. Robinson Elementary was the next campus. At that time, the Primary served K through 2nd grade, the Elementary served 3rd through 5th grade, Rosenthal served 6th grade, the Junior High served 7th and 8th grade, and the High School served 9th through 12th grade.
Eleven years later (2001), RISD opened two new campuses. The overwhelming support of the Robinson community allowed high school students to begin the 2001-02 school year at the new Robinson High School (grade 9-12). The old high school became the current Junior High (grades 6-8) and the old Junior high became Robinson Intermediate (grade 4-5). Robinson Elementary then began to serve only 2nd and 3rd grade students. Later in the fall of 2001, the Kindergarteners and 1st graders marched down Old Robinson Road from the old Primary building to the current Robinson Primary. For the first time since 1916, Robinson students did not attend school at that site near the corner of Old Robinson Road and West Lyndale.
In the fall of 2016, the new Robinson Intermediate opened on Old Robinson Road (near the intersection with Foster). Grades 4th through 6th are served in the new school. Robinson Junior High has moved back to serving only 7th and 8th graders. The old Intermediate (the original Robinson High School) is now vacant and will be demolished.
Robinson Schools have seen many changes throughout its history. The past shows that the Robinson community has always invested in their children’s education through continual improvement. From around 100 students in the 1800’s to almost 2,420 students in 2018, RISD seeks the best educational opportunities for each of its students.
This information was taken from a variety of sources including Steve Randolph’s “Vapor Trails” from December 19, 1980. At that time, he interviewed or received information from the following people: Mrs. Meta Hartwick, Mrs. Martha Kettler, Mrs. Pauline Redding, Mrs. Cornelia O’Dowd, Mr. David Sides, Mrs. Virginia Wuebker, and Mrs. Cynthia Lawson. Other information and photos were used from anonymous sources.