La Porte ISD Academy of Viola DeWalt High School

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School History


In 1909, by vote of the trustees of La Porte Schools, a school was organized for the Black children of La Porte. There was no building for this purpose, so school was held temporarily in the Baptist Church in the Northside area of La Porte. The church building served as a school during the week and a church on Sunday. A few weeks later, a building that had been used by the Morgan's Point Methodist Church became available. The building was sold to the La Porte Independent School District. It was a one-room school building where grades one through six were taught by one teacher.

In its first year, there were only ten students. Viola DeWalt was the first teacher at the school, and worked for La Porte I.S.D. until her retirement in 1939. She is our school's namesake. Viola DeWalt received her teaching certificate from Mary Allen College in Crockett, Texas. Mary Allen was a co-ed college for Black women interested in the teaching profession. Black Baptist churches throughout the state of Texas supported this college. The funds from the churches provided scholarships for many young women who attended Mary Allen College.

This one-room structure served the northside community as its sole setting for the instruction of Black chidren until 1943. In that year, the old two-room school building that had been used by Morgan's Point and then near La Porte Elementary as a board room and first grade duplex, was moved next door to the one-room building. The small building was used for music and dramatics, and the two-room building served as the classrooms. At this time, an additional teacher was needed.

School was held at this location until DeWalt Elementary was built in 1953. Grades one through eight were taught in the new building, and pupils above the eighth grade were sent to Carver High School in Baytown, Texas. The school functioned in this manner until La Porte schools were integrated in 1963-64. This brick building, at the corner of 6th Street and Madison, served various purposes for the school district over the years, including the location for Special Assignment Classes (SAC). In 1991, a change in state law designated the creation of an alternative campus, and DeWalt was chosen for this program.

With the passing of a bond election in 1996, a new campus was developed at the corner of 2nd Street and Madison for the expanding DeWalt Alternative School program, thus keeping Viola DeWalt's legacy within the community she so loved. The new building opened to students in August 1999, and her portrait hangs in the rotunda of the building for all visitors to see and enjoy.