Mary Frances George Junior High School History
Mary Frances George Junior High School was built on land on the east side of Springdale donated by the George family and opened in the fall of 2004 to serve students in the eighth and ninth grades. The school was named for the matriarch of the George family, Mary Frances George. Over the years of its existence, GJHS faculty and staff have worked to uphold the values of service and excellence that Mary Frances George exemplified during her lifetime.
In 2013 GJHS was chosen to be the location for the district’s Language Academy, now known as the Learning Center. The Learning Center has welcomed English Language Learners new to the country and taught the students English, history, math, and science.
From the school's first holiday season the faculty, staff, and student organizations began to sponsor students in need by providing Christmas gifts. As another service to the community Advisory classes competed in various charitable fundraisers including donations to food banks and support for veterans’ service dogs.
There has been strong support for the arts program at George. Choirs have received Superior ratings in performance and sightreading every year at Choral Performance Assessment since the school opened in 2004. This is the highest rating a Junior. High Choir can receive in the state of Arkansas. In 2007 the choir was the featured junior high performance for the Arkansas Choral Directors Association in Hot Springs. GJHS has consistently placed many students, 40-70 students each year, in the NWA Arkansas Region 5 All-Region Choir. GJHS choirs have been active participants in the community, volunteering at Razorback games, neighboring elementary schools, Caroling on the Creek, Natural's baseball games, and other community events.
The George Band Program has taken pride in student inclusion and involvement. In 2019 the band program had a record of 228 students. Students have had the opportunity to perform at pep rallies, football games, and All-Region sectionals in addition to the band class itself. The George Band has traveled and performed in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Illinois. One of the highest honors was the band's performance at the Midwest International Music Conference in Chicago. More recently, the band was recognized as an Arkansas Honor Band. The George Band has consistently earned Superior Ratings at Band Assessment, and numerous students have been selected into the All-Region Jazz, Orchestra and Concert Band each year
The school mascot was named Wranglers due to the proximity of the Springdale rodeo arena. The original GJHS symbol was a star, but art teacher Andy Downum redesigned the symbol to reflect the school’s Wranglers nickname. The new design was a cowboy on a horse wearing a cowboy hat and throwing a lasso. This symbol was painted on the floor of the main gym. The art students also painted western images in the art hall and in the school cafeteria which is known as the arena.
Wrangler students competed in football, basketball, track and field, and volleyball. Students also participated in spirit squads. After several years the separate squads unified into one spirit squad.
GJHS has had three principals. David Nelson served as the first principal from 2004 to 2007. The next principal was Don Hoover who led the school from 2007 to 2015. After the departure of Mr. Hoover, LaDena Eads took the lead and continues in that role today.
In 2014 two staff members wrote the words for the alma mater which they named Wranglers In Spirit. The words were put to the music of a popular camp song that Mary Frances George, a long-time Girl Scout leader, would have known well. The lyrics emphasized the importance of service, growth, and loyalty, values that have always been important at George. The song has traditionally been sung before pep rallies and games.