Blog 132 Celebration and Sorrow

Blog 132 Celebration and Sorrow

The Jefferson girls’ basketball team won the district championship earlier this month. The was the first district win since the team was organized 45 years ago! Sadly, they lost the first playoff game, but we should all be proud of their effort. The glamour days of players like Kyle Rote and Tommy Nobis seem long past, but one of these days, another star will come along, and it could be a girl.

Did anyone dream that girls would play basketball in our day? There are probably a lot of naysayers, but Title IX has given opportunity to female athletes who otherwise would never have had opportunity to play and excel in sports beyond tennis and swimming.

Sorrow…Bobby Chalman
passed away January 23
rd in Austin. Bobby contracted MS when in his thirties but lived an active and productive life for the next five decades. I spoke briefly with Bobby’s widow to express condolences on behalf of the class.

I did not know Bobby personally. According to the Monticello, he was on the track team. David Chester
was a good friend of Bobby. I asked David to share a few memories. David wrote:

Bobby went to Thomas Jefferson and graduated in 1954.  During the summers while in school and college we worked as a Roustabout in Jourdanton, TX, and a Rod & Chainmen in Midland, TX, and worked at the Southern Steel Company testing jail bars, Lawn Business, and Painting Bill Boards.  He went to the Citadel, a military school in South Caroline for 2 years and transferred to The University of Texas.  He married Kay and they had four kids two boys and two girls living in Austin.  He worked in Austin all his working life for the Texas Highway Department.  They had an home in West Texas which Bobby spent many happy days.  He will be sadly missed.  

Thespian Island again…Since writing about Thespian Island in the last blog, I heard from Ed Garza. Ed is a Jeff grad, a former mayor of San Antonio, and a board member of the San Antonio Independent School District. Ed has been instrumental in attaining the bond-funded improvements in and around the campus.

Here is a minute and a half video to describe the upgrades on Donaldson and the renovation of the Thespian Island.

who of you knew about the island and the fountain in the center? I only remember it as the bus stop for arriving and departing from school.

Here is what Ed wrote:

Thespian Island, in front of Jefferson High School (at the Kampmann and Donaldson intersection) was adopted by the school’s theater club in the early 1930’s, thus the name.  In 1938 the Thespians donated, and had constructed, a fountain, 3′ deep pond, and stone pathways.  The pond was filled with koi, goldfish, water lilies and the fountain was operating and circulated water until the 1950’s.  However, sometime in the late 1950’s the fountain stopped working and the water was drained from the pond.  For over fifty years the pond stayed empty, and eventually the concrete walls began to crack.  


In 2010, and as part of a comprehensive master plan to renovate and restore the local, state and national historic campus, San Antonio ISD Board Trustee Ed Garza collaborated with the City of San Antonio and Bexar County to phase in street, drainage, and pedestrian infrastructure improvements around the school, including Thespian Island.  The city/county improvements were leveraged using the SAISD Bond investment in the school building and site work.     

The improvements to Thespian Island include:

  • Fountain Restoration with new pump and electrical system;
  • Water Feature fill (for safety purpose) and repair;
  • Rebuild existing stone pathways with a concrete base and add new pathways on the extended island to the main walkway on campus;
  • Add a new irrigation system; and
  • Replace sod grass and landscaping.  

The Thespian Island renovation and restoration project is a small piece of the overall $145 million campus and surrounding street infrastructure renovation.  The 15-year (2010-2025) phased project that includes:

2010-2015 PHASE I

  • SAISD Bond for Jefferson High School for $28 million (E-Wing CTE expansion/renovation; Audio-Video CTE Studio; Administration Building Foundation and Historic Restoration; Main Gym Foundation; Health Clinic; Pony Field all-weather track and bleachers; Land acquisition for half soccer training field; New Baseball/Softball Fields; New Drill Marching Pad; HVAC; site landscaping);  
  • City of San Antonio Bond project for $1 million to construct a pedestrian median on Wilson Boulevard (from Club to Donaldson) and re-align/expand Thespian Island to form a one-way bus drop off in front of the school;
  • CPS Energy investment of $2 million to remove wood utility poles and install underground utilities and historic lamp post lighting at Thespian Island on the main walkway to the schools front entrance, as well as, on along Kampmann next to the new marching pad (across from Monticello Park);  
  • City of San Antonio and Bexar County General Fund drainage and stormwater site improvements at Jefferson $1.5 million;

2016-2020 PHASE II

  • 2016 SAISD Bond for Jefferson High School for $60 million (Main Gym, Field House and Auxiliary Gym interior renovation; Pony Field Concessions Building Renovation; Cafeteria/SUB interior renovation; Black Box retrofit; Auditorium backstage and seating renovation/restoration; Main Building 1st/2nd Floor Corridors and Classroom renovations/restoration; 3rd Floor Science Wing Renovation; Replace/restore Roof System; HVAC/Chiller)
  • 2017 City of San Antonio Bond project for $.3 million at Monticello Park for gazebo and trail enhancements;
  • 2017 City of San Antonio Bond project for $3.738 million  Wilson median landscaping/irrigation; Thespian Island fountain, walkways, landscaping and irrigation renovation; historic street lamp installation around campus; underground utility conversion at Wilson/Donaldson and Wilson/Club intersections. 

2020-2025 PHASE III 

  • 2020 State of Texas Historic Tax Credits for Phase II work $10 million (Historic Restoration of building exterior and interior)
  • 2020 SAISD Bond for Jefferson High School Phase III for $32 million (Auditorium, Library , President’s Hall, Main Hall Historic Restoration;  Comprehensive Exterior Restoration; Window repair/replacement/blinds; Comprehensive Lighting System; Way-Finding; Campus Branding; Locker restoration/conversion; Stairwells; Breezway’s Renovation; Pony Field Pedestrian Lighting; Synthetic Turf conversion to Pony Field, Baseball/Softball, soccer fields; Parking Lot renovation; Courtyard/campus landscaping and restoration); 
  • 2022 State of Texas Historic Tax Credits for Phase III work $6 million (Historic Restoration of building exterior and interior)

All work to be completed by early 2025.  



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s