By George Slaughter
The Katy Independent School District dedicated its two newest schools over the past few days, though the schools themselves have been going strong since opening last August
The district dedicated Jordan High School, 27500 Fulshear Bend Dr., Monday night. It dedicated McElwain Elementary School, 6631 Greenwood Orchard Dr., Thursday.
Both schools honor longtime contributors to the Katy community and the district. In the case of Jordan, the school honors an entire family. Principal Ethan Crowell joked at Monday’s dedication that while other schools have a namesake, he got a distribution list. The Jordan family’s ties to Katy came over a century ago, when Henry Elmer “Hank” and his wife, Olga, moved from the Midwest to Texas.
That was in 1913, only 13 years after the town site for Katy was laid out. (The city itself was incorporated in 1945. The Jordan High School campus is in the Fulshear area.)
Jordan served as a member of the Katy Independent School District Board of Trustees from 1932-39 and played a role in the creation of the Katy chapter of the Future Farmers of America (FFA). The district is known for its continued support of FFA today. Jordan was also a supporter of Katy High School, which in those days fielded a six-man football team. He was also credited with helping to purchase the first red uniforms for the team.
Several generations of Jordan family descendants were on hand Monday. Many remain active in the community. According to the district, six Jordan family descendants received teacher of the year honors at their respective campuses.
Theresa Jordan McMeans, a family namesake representative, said “it’s an extreme honor and blessing” and a “point of overwhelming pride for our family” that the school was named in its honor.
In a touching gesture, the district presented 95-year-old Melvin Jordan, the last surviving child of Hank and Olga Jordan, an FFA jacket with “Jordan” on the back. Beverlye Jordan Shafer, Melvin Jordan’s oldest daughter, sat next to Melvin when Crowell presented the jacket. She said the gesture brought her father to tears.
McElwain, meanwhile, honors Peter McElwain, who, like the Jordan family, has long been active in the district. Like Hank and Olga Jordan, McElwain brought his family to Texas and got involved in the Katy community. In the McElwain family’s case, McElwain, his wife Darlene, and daughter Kristen came to Texas from Canada.
In 1998, then-Superintendent Dr. Leonard Merrell selected McElwain to serve as the district architect/planner. He was active in the development and operation of many of the district’s buildings as it expanded over the years.
Darlene McElwain was also active with the district. She served as administrative assistant at the newly-opened Cinco Ranch High School in 1999. She later worked in the district’s human resources department.
McElwain said he was speechless when Superintendent Dr. Ken Gregorski called to tell him that the district was making him a namesake.
“I felt extremely blessed to receive this great honor,” McElwain said. “After working for so long to create great learning environments for students, it was beyond words to get a call saying that they were going to name a school after me.”
McElwain said his goal in life was to support student learning in as many ways as possible. His commitment has continued since his 2019 retirement from the district.
Today, McElwain is a children’s book author. He wrote and illustrated his two books, The Candy Cane App and The Mystery at Golf Hole Three, and enjoys giving readings at schools. He said he hopes to give more readings, and do more volunteering at his namesake school, when the coronavirus pandemic ends. McElwain welcomes inquiries through his website.