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New consolidated campus names to honor longtime principal, 1966 Miner

(EL PASO INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT -- June 8, 2018) — The Bond 2016 consolidated PreK-8 campuses in the Northeast and West Side will bear the names of a longtime Coronado High School principal and a legendary member of the 1966 Texas Western College national basketball championship team, the Board of Trustees decided on Thursday.

The campus that will house the consolidation of Johnson Elementary and Morehead Middle will be called Charles Murphree PreK-8 School, while the consolidation of Collins Elementary and Terrace Hills Middle will be called Bobby Joe Hill PreK-8 School. 

Trustees also voted to keep the name of U.S. Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur for the consolidation of Bonham Elementary and MacArthur Intermediate. 

“We had many, many great name suggestions for these schools,” said EPISD Board President Trent Hatch. “It’s unfortunate that we don’t have more schools to name so that we can honor everyone who deserves it.” 

Bobby Joe Hill PK-8 School will celebrate the basketball player’s role in civil rights and sports desegregation. Hill led the all-African American starting team at Texas Western College to Texas’ first and only NCAA basketball championship in 1966. 

Hills’ widow Tina Hill sat in the audience proud to hear the vote – especially knowing her late husband’s memory would live on at the new campus to be built where she taught middle school for 21 years and retired from just three days earlier. 

“We miss so much and it’s such an honor because he believed so much in education,” Tina Hill said. “He would travel and talk to players in college about yes it’s important to win a game but it’s important to get your education and to be a man of integrity because after the game is over, what do have? If you're injured, what do you have? You have your integrity and you have your degree.” 

The new Charles Murphree PK-8 will serve students in the feeder pattern where its new namesake served for more than 14 years. Murphree was principal at Coronado High School from 1972 to 1986, after teaching at Hawkins, Putnam and White elementary schools. 

“So many times during trips to the store, family vacations and other events, people would come up to us and tell us how much my dad meant to them,” said Donald Murphree. “He didn’t have any hobbies because his only concern was serving the students at Coronado High School.”

During the discussion about MacArthur, the Bonham community asked the Board to consider naming the new school after astronaut Danny Olivas, who is an alum of Bonham, MacArthur and graduate of Burges High School. However, dozens of MacArthur community members rallied to keep the name and continue honoring the accomplishments of the decorated five-star army general at a campus that welcomes many military children.

The Board also had considered naming schools after historian Leon Metz and retired educator Wilmer Gray.

The new names will go into effect as soon as construction on the campuses is complete. All Bond 2016 projects should be completed by 2021.

Story by Reneé De Santos