The Mississippi High School Literary and Athletic Association was the logical result of the desire of geographical regional groups to have some basis for intergroup contests. The schoolmasters’ clubs (now know as regional units) have been in existence for nearly 40 years. They were perhaps originally planned as social and professional associations for school men; with oratorical contests the principal student interest.
Each of the older clubs not only did a worthwhile work in promoting a friendly and professional spirit among schoolmasters and in quickening the interest through contests of high school boys and girls in school life, but each has made valuable contributions to the State Association. In this manner of development from group to State Association – the Mississippi High School Literary and Athletic Association was perhaps unique among similar state organizations.
Beginning in 1919 at annual meetings of the Mississippi Education Association, attempts were made to coordinate these clubs into a state association. The clubs were jealous of their authority and each was proud of its own peculiar development and traditions, and not until 1922 were all groups found willing to make individual sacrifices in order that a state association might come into existence. The State Association was formed in 1922. It directed and controlled the interschool relations during the school year 1922 – 23, and in the spring of 1923 a literary and field meet was held in Jackson and it was very successful.
The membership of the original State Committee to whom much credit is due was as follows:
- S. Vandiver, Chairman
- L. B. Reid
- C. E. Harris, Secretary
- N. C. Moncrief
- W. B. Kenna
The organization as originally set up continued to function until 1939. The feeling that there was need for a change in the organization so as to give more continuity of thought in the legislative procedure, the Association began to assert itself in 1938. The Executive Committee of the Mississippi Education Association passed a resolution in 1938 calling upon the Executive Committee to revise its organization so as to give more stability to the legislative branch of the Association. In response to this resolution, a committee was authorized to draft a formal Constitution and By-Laws for the government and direction of the Association; the same to be submitted to the Mississippi Education Association for final approval. This was a joint committee composed of one representative from each of the ten regions elected by the school men of the respective regions, and the State Committee. The following committee was elected:
B. Kenna, General Chairman
Delta-Supt. F. C. Barnes, Drew
Big Black – Supt. J. B. Edwards, Ackerman
East Central – Supt. J. L. McCaskill, Meridian
Gulf Coast – Supt. G. W. Ditto, Biloxi
Middle Mississippi – Not represented
North Central – Supt. C. C. Holloman, Batesville
North East – Supt. B. D. McCallister, West Point
North West – Supt. J. F. Russum, Hernando
South East – Supt. Herbert Ferrell, Taylorsville
South West – Supt. D. C. Leach, Monticello
Supt. E. S. Bowlus – Brookhaven
Supt. R. S. Weems – Morton
Coach E. W. Young – Ellisville
Supt. W. B. Kenna – Lexington
This committee met in February, 1939, and drafted a proposed constitution, which was submitted to and adopted by the Mississippi Education Association in its regular meeting in March of the same year. The constitution was put into effect immediately after its adoption.
The Mississippi High School Literary and Athletic Association did a worthwhile and constructive work in its efforts to elevate the standards of sportsmanship, to develop a higher standard of scholarship, and to encourage pride in scholastic achievement. Much credit for these accomplishments is due to men who have given unselfishly of their time and effort in behalf of the program. Members of the state committees, state councils, regional committees and all other special committees, superintendents, principals, coaches, teachers, and students have shown a wonderful spirit of cooperation and good will. This has contributed much to the success of the Association.
However, the expansion of the program of the State Association, and the development of parallel programs by other groups brought about many conflicts and much overlapping. The work had grown to such proportions that it was impossible for “part time men” to do the work necessary for the administration of the program. It seemed to be the consensus of opinion that a reorganization of the Association was necessary so as to coordinate and integrate all interschool activities in such a way that the whole program could be administered through one office. It was also the definite conviction of all concerned that a full time office with at least two full time workers would be necessary to successfully administer the new program.
Studies were made by various committees and recommendations formulated. All agreed that reorganization was necessary and that a full time office should be set up. The principal question was whether or not the new Association should be a subsidiary and a part of the Mississippi Education Association or an independent organization. After exhaustive studies had been made of prevailing practices in other states and of conditions in our state, it was finally agreed that it would be better to set up an independent association. It was pointed out that absolute harmony would always exist between the two associations, since those interested in one would also be interested in the other.
A Constitution Committee headed by C. S. McGivaren was appointed. This committee spent much time on the project and finally drafted a constitution that was acceptable to all groups. This constitution was submitted to the various district meetings in the fall of 1948 and was overwhelmingly approved by representatives of member schools. It was also approved by the Delegate Assembly of the Mississippi Education Association in the spring of 1949. On May 7, 1949, the Legislative Body of the Mississippi High School Literary and Athletic Association held its last meeting. At this meeting the new organization with its Constitution was finally approved and the “Old Organization” ordered liquidated as of July 1, 1949. Thus the Mississippi High School Literary and Athletic Association ceased to exist and the Mississippi High School Association came into being as its successor. On June 29, 1949, the governing body of the new Association approved the Constitution and By-Laws and set up the machinery for the new organization, which started July 1.
The State Council had at a previous meeting elected the following as the first State Committee of the new Association:
- L. Milling – Ruleville
- W. Tanner- Moss Point
- P. Daniel – New Albany
- B. Dribben – Benoit
- M. Crain – Clinton
The State Executive Committee elected W. B. Kenna, Lexington, as the Director of Activities of the Mississippi High School Association. This completed the reorganization plans and all committees were finally discharged.
On January 6, 1950, Article I of the Constitution of the Mississippi High School Association was amended to read as follows: The name of the organization is the Mississippi High School Activities Association. This organization was duly incorporated under the laws of the State of Mississippi on December 19, 1956.
MAGNOLIA STATE HIGH SCHOOL ACTIVITIES ASSOCIATION
In the mid 1950’s high school educators from throughout the state realized a need for an organization to give guidance to the schools’ extra-curricular programs.
The first attempt to perfect an organization was presented to the delegate assembly of the Mississippi Teachers Association (MTA). A committee was appointed to study Constitutions and By-Laws of other Activities Associations and to draw up a proposed constitution.
A proposed Constitution was presented to the next delegate assembly of MTA. The delegates voted to authorize the Principals’ Association to organize an Activities Association.
In 1960, the Principals’ Association appointed E. S. Bishop as Coordinator. Study Chairmen of the eight educational districts were appointed to serve as the legislative body until the districts could elect this body. This body elected an Executive Committee, approved a Constitution and By-Laws and caused plans to be implemented for the operation of the Association.
- M. Smith served as president of the Association from May, 1966 through May, 1968, and W. L. Slaughter served as president from June, 1968 through February 7, 1971. H. T. Drake served as Director of Activities from July 1, 1966 through February 7, 1971.
On February 8, 1971, the Magnolia State High School Activities Association and the Mississippi High School Activities Association, Inc. were merged to form the new Mississippi High School Activities Association, Incorporated.
MERGER OF FORMER ASSOCIATIONS TO FORM THE EXISTING ASSOCIATION
On September 10, 1969, the Magnolia State High School Activities Association filed suit in United States District Court seeking a merger with the Mississippi High School Activities Association, Inc., and on August 13, 1970, the two Associations were ordered to merge. The merger was effectuated on February 8, 1971.
By order entered on February 3, 1971, the Court approved and adopted a Merger Plan which, by the terms of the order, became effective on February 8, 1971. The Merger Plan contained certain new matter dealing with the transition of the two separate Associations into a new Merged Association, and also contained certain new Constitution and By-Law provisions, but it provided that the Constitution and By-Laws of the Mississippi High School Activities Association, Incorporated (as previously constituted), as they appeared in that Association’s 1969 – 1970 Handbook, should remain in full force and effect as the Constitution and By-Laws of the Merged Association, except where they were in conflict with the Merger Plan.
EXECUTIVE SECRETARIES AND DIRECTORS OF ACTIVITIES
- B. “Bill” Kenna, Superintendent of Lexington Schools, was elected as the first full-time secretary on July 1, 1949. He served in this capacity until June 30, 1958. On January 6, 1950, the name of the organization became Mississippi High School Activities Association. The organization was duly incorporated under the laws of the State of Mississippi on December 19, 1956.
- D. “Webb” Allen, Superintendent of Schools at Tupelo, was elected as the replacement and began work on July 1, 1958, retiring on June 30, 1968. The organization continued to get stronger, and the Officials’ Association became a part of the Association with a full-time Supervisor of Officials.
- P “Dick” Smith, Superintendent of Picayune, began serving the organization on July 1, 1968. Having previously served as state president of the Association for five years, he brought unique experience to the growth of the Association. He guided the Association through the Federal Court cases and implemented the court ordered merger plan. He is credited with effectively creating a smooth transition which led to continued growth of the new Association. He retired on June 1, 1979.
- T. Drake, Principal of the Rosa Scott High School at Madison, was elected full time Director of the Magnolia Association on July 1, 1966. He served in this capacity until February 8, 1971, when he was elected Assistant Director of Activities of the new Mississippi High School Activities Association, Incorporated. He was instrumental in the merging of the two Associations and in helping the new organization to grow strong.
Woodrow L. Marsh, Superintendent of Schools at Cleveland, began his term in office on July 1, 1979. He had previously served on the Legislative Council for nine years. During his tenure, state championships in football, girl’s softball, and soccer were organized. The schools’ classification was changed from four to five classes. Divisions were developed in all sports and the number one and number two team advances in the state playoffs. Seeing a real need for additional office space, he led in the purchase of land, planning, financing and supervising the construction of the new office building at 1201 Clinton-Raymond Road in Clinton. He retired June 30, 1991, after serving forty-three years in the field of education in Mississippi.
Ennis H. Proctor, Ed.D., Principal of Forest Hill High School, began his term of office on July 1, 1991 and retired June 30, 2011. Under Dr. Proctor’s leadership the MHSAA greatly expanded opportunities for secondary students to be actively involved in their schools. He established a corporate sponsorship program that helped the Association to become financially stable. Dr. Proctor also formed the scholar athlete scholarship program to encourage students academically, and he paid off the existing structure and expanded the headquarter building.
Don Hinton began his term of office on July 1, 2011 and currently serves as the sixth executive Director of the MHSAA. Mr. Hinton served seven years on the MHSAA executive committee prior to becoming executive director elect in July 2010. Mr. Hinton also helped implement and coordinate the Star Sportsmanship program for two years. He has 30 years in education that include serving as a teacher, principal, assistant principal, athletic director, head and assistant coach.