In February of 1994, Northside Independent School District was approached by a San Antonio community group composed of representatives of the San Antonio Express-News, KSAT-TV, WOAI, KVDA-Telemundo, and the Center for Educational Leadership at Trinity University about creating a communications magnet program. Three members of the Taft High School faculty, James Buchanan, Sara McAndrew, and Baird Neville, were intrigued by the idea and worked with Ed Rawlinson, NISD deputy superintendent, Roger Harris, Taft principal, and the “founding partners” to make the vision a reality. The proposal submitted to the Northside Board of Trustees describes the purpose and structure of the school:
….Community leaders, aware of the success of magnet programs locally and nationally, have also advocated and supported new magnet programs…. On March 14, 1994, a report was provided to the Northside Board of Trustees on the concept and the private sector support. The Board approved beginning the planning process to create a Communications Arts High School.
A feasibility study was initiated in the fall of 1994. The model originally selected for study was a “stand-alone” school housed in the leased commercial space. This model was ultimately rejected by staff due to substantial costs. A “school-with-a-school” model was then studied, with Taft High School selected as the host school due to the expressed interest of the Taft administration and faculty.
Communications Arts High School, however, would not limit recruitment to students who are interested in only communications careers. Nor would the CAHS curriculum target career specialization in related fields such as journalism or radio-television broadcasting. CAHS is based on the premise that the 21st century will demand strong communications skills in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking. Moreover, related skills in research, organization, problem-solving, and the mastery of technology as well as other resources are assets for many careers as well as for life in the future. Thus, CAHS would use a strong academic humanities-based program employing the communications arts as both framework and medium for the demonstration of knowledge, a plan which will prepare students well for their future.
Thus, on March 14, 1994, Communications Arts High School was born with two weeks to prepare for recruiting freshmen and five months to hire teachers, find space, develop curriculum, and order books, equipment, and supplies. The three Taft teachers, called CAHS principal teachers, set forth with a vision to develop “the school we wished we could have attended.” The principal teachers recruited that spring using only colored transparencies and their dream of the school.
Communications Arts opened in the fall of 1995 with approximately 120 students and eight faculty members. Adding a new grade level yearly, in 1998 CAHS achieved its goal of four grade levels and a faculty of twenty.
The dream continues. In August of 2005, CAHS opened our own new building on the Taft campus with 19 classrooms and 39,000 square feet. We now have 503 students, nineteen teachers, a principal’s secretary-bookkeeper, a counselor, a college counselor, a vice principal, and a principal.