Amarillo High School: Wikis


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Amarillo High School
Amarillo High School
4225 Danbury St.
Amarillo, TX 79109

United States
Type Public
Established 1889
School district Amarillo Independent School District
Principal Mark Webster
Grades 9-12
Enrollment 2111[1]
Color(s)           Black & Gold
Athletics UIL 5A
Athletics conference University Interscholastic League
Team name Golden Sandstorm
Information (806) 326-2000

Amarillo High School is a school located in the city of Amarillo, Texas, United States, in the Amarillo Independent School District.



Founded in 1889, Amarillo High School began in a converted courthouse which was outgrown and abandoned that same year. Moving to a larger building on Polk street served the schools needs until 1906 and yet another building was utilized until 1910.

Construction of a permanent home was completed in 1910, also on Polk street near downtown, and this facility served until a fire destroyed the entire school except for the gym in 1970. Many students went into the burning building to save paintings and trophies. Students used the facilities of the First Baptist Church and the First Methodist Church for classrooms until the end of the school year.

General Aspects of the School



Amarillo High School has high academic standards, with scores on the state Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test ranking well above state and local averages. Most but not all students are above average in academics. The school offers Advanced Placement classes as well as the full International Baccalaureate diploma.


One of the musical groups of AHS during the 1950s was the "Sandie Swingsters" who played for pep rallies, dances and other special events at AHS. Currently, the "Sandie Steppers" Perform at pep rallies, games, and other events.

In addition, the Sandie Orchestra and Golden Sandie Band, under Mr. Roger Edwards and Mr. Bruce Collins respectively, possess a long running tradition in the school. Interestingly enough, a number of the students that ran into the school to save trophies when the old school on Polk St. burned down were enrolled in both the orchestra and band. In its deep rooted convention, the instrument programs at Amarillo High aim for the highest standards possible, urging students to participate in activities like All Region and State Orchestras. Notably, under Mr. Edwards direction, both the band and orchestra have won and continue to triumph in all theaters of competition, bringing home gold every time.

Deeper still, the Golden Sandie Band branches off into multiple ensembles such as the regular, symphonic, jazz, and marching bands; each performing its own task in the school. However, when most think of the Sandie band they envision the marching band, playing at the football games, plodding along the football astro-turf. Or, the average Amarillo High student sees the regular band and drum line playing it out at pep rallies. True, this band performs most, making up a laundry list of events and concert dates. However, the more seasoned players participate in the symphonic and jazz band, an important component of the full orchestra. Also in 2008 the band jumped over enormous hurdles by placing 11th in area marching contest. The band is currently under the direction of Bruce Collins with the assistant directors Julie Collins and Justin Nuckols.

Furthermore, the Sandie Orchestra divides into two orchestras, the Symphony strings and the Philharmonic; with many incoming Freshman entering the Philharmonic and most Juniors and Seniors participating in the Symphony. Just two years ago, Mr. Edwards came back after about a five year lull in which ASO member, Mrs. Diana Goad, managed the AHS Orchestra. Although, during his tenure there, Mr. Edwards has lead the orchestra on numerous successful ventures, including Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade" Saint-Saens "March Militaire Francais" and Rimsky-Korsakov's "Capriccio Espagnol." Remarkably, despite long odds and numerous obstacles, Mr. Edward's orchestras and full orchestras have succeeded above and beyond their calls.

Without a doubt, the Sandie Choir has played a major role in the school's music program. Under the direction of Mr. Shane Swenn and Mrs. Susan Hinrichs, both the mens and women's choirs excel and continue to excel. Outstandingly, the mens Bel Canto and Varsity choirs have traveled to San Antonio to participate in state level competitions and have always placed against highly ranked opponents in other Texas districts.

Yet, at the end of the year the three programs combine into a triumvirate of epic proportions for the AHS Graduation. The choir sings for the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and the "1812 Overture" as the full orchestra provides accompaniment for their choral pieces. Unusually enough, graduating seniors in the band, orchestra, or choir without fail, play or sing for their own graduation, making the musical seniors' experience a truly unique one.


Amarillo High School offers many diverse activities, in foreign languages, fine arts, community services, and athletics, including Drama Club, Student Council, Spanish Club, Latin Club, German Club, French Club, band, orchestra, choir, Key Club, Ken Club, Junior Statesmen of America, Dance Dance Revolution, National Honor Society, FCCLA, Math Club, International Forum, football, baseball, swimming, bowling, golf, wrestling, Frisbee Club and other curricular and extracurricular activities.


The Amarillo Golden Sandstorm football program has one of the best early traditions in Texas. Beginning in 1922 Amarillo High has made 46 football playoff appearances, which is second only to 4A Dallas Highland Park.[2] Amarillo High emerged as a football powerhouse in the 1930s as young head coach Blair Cherry guided the Sandies to three consecutive Texas state championships in 1934-1936, as only the second school to ever do so (the Paul Tyson-guided Waco won 1925-27). Cherry left Amarillo in 1937 to become offensive coordinator under Dana X. Bible at the University of Texas. His successor Howard Lynch struggled to handle the task of fulfilling the high expectations, although he won another state championship in 1940 and reach the championship game in 1948. The school chose not to renew Lynch's contract in 1951.[3]

Lynch's successor, Bill Defee,had previously coached at Panola College. Defee left in 1955, being replaced by Joe Kerbel, who had previously won two state championships at Breckenridge High. Kerbel, in three years, guided the Sandies to the playoffs 2 times. The 1957 team was ranked #1 in the state all year long until they lost in the quarterfinals to defending state champion, Abilene High School. That game drew over 22,000 fans, the largest ever to watch a football game in Amarillo Stadium, (Now Dick Bivins Stadium) as of 2007. Kerbel left to become an assistant coach at Texas Tech and later was the head coach at West Texas State University. After that, there was a string of unsuccessful stints by a number of coaches. Amarillo High went 16 years, 1960-1975, without gaining the playoffs. Bum Phillips, who would later become the Houston Oilers head coach, coached Amarillo at the beginning of that drought, from 1959-61. In 1975, Larry Dippel arrived, turning the program around and guiding the Sandies to 222 wins until 2005.[4] Dippel took over an Amarillo High program in 1975 that was on the skids. AHS had not been in the playoffs since 1959. But Dippel turned around the program and led AHS to 23 playoff appearances.

He finished his career with a record of 253-134-6, with 222 of the wins coming with the Sandies.

His many honors include being named 2003 National Coach of the year, serving as president of the Texas High School Coaches Association in 1999 and being named state coach of the year (The Tom Landry Award) in 1993. Dippel also earned the Sportsmanship Award from Amarillo Football Officials four times.

Dippel's tenure as a head coach at Amarillo High is the longest of any head coach in any sport in AISD history. He won 16 district titles at Hereford and AHS combined, and he led the Sandies to the Class 5A state semifinals in 1992. Dippel leaves having coached fathers and sons, uncles and nephews.

After the 2005 season (31 seasons), Dippel retired. Amarillo ISD athletic director Tex Nolan selected Brad Thiessen to be Dippel's successor. Thiessen had previously coached at 1A Stratford High and 3A Levelland High. He guided Stratford to a 16-0 season and the 1A state championship in 2000.[5] The Stratford 2001 football team ran their unbeaten string to 30 games before losing a heartbreaker in the semi-finals, ending a 17-1 season.

Hell Week

Hell week, also referred to as "Spirit Week" is the week in which Amarillo High plays Tascosa High School in a severe football rivalry. During Hell Week, many vandalisms occur such as egging, spraypainting, toilet papering, keying, and other property defacing acts.[6][7] In 2006, vandalism ranged from simple chalking on sidewalks to bricks being thrown through windows. In 2007, fellow Senior Sandies of 08' spraypainted the black "T" in front of Tascosa gold. However, many steps are being taken to attempt to make Hell Week less violent, such as increased police presence. Both schools also discourage violence during announcements.[8]

Notable alumni

Several famous individuals have either attended or graduated from Amarillo High School:


Mike Shanks Professional stuntman/actor John Myrick-first director of electronic news gathering KABC Los Angeles

External links

Coordinates: 35°9′59.82″N 101°54′18.40″W / 35.1666167°N 101.905111°W / 35.1666167; -101.905111


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