History of Lyman High School

Early Seminole County Roots

Lyman High School’s history dates all the way back to the early 1900’s, when a man by the name of Howard Charles Lyman, and his wife, Emma Abbott Lyman, first arrived in the Altamonte Springs area. They were invited by former Congressman Charles Haines to winter in Florida at his retreat along Lake Orienta. Soon, the couple became actively involved in the political and social aspects of the community.

A few years after Seminole County separated from Orange County, the Lymans and other Altamonte residents voted to incorporate the Town of Altamonte Springs on November 11, 1920. In the years between 1922-1923, with the increasing population of Special Tax District No. 3, it became apparent that better school facilities were going to be necessary, as the small two-teacher buildings at Altamonte and Longwood were no longer adequate. 

Lyman in 1924

The local board of trustees, Mr. Ben Overstreet and Mr. Howard Lyman, called several mass meetings to discuss bonding the district for new school buildings. Mr. Overstreet suggested the idea of consolidation rather than three school buildings to be located at Longwood, Altamonte, and Lake Mary. This plan was studied by the trustees and placed before the taxpayers. The Lake Mary patrons, on account of their location, decided to have their own local building and were given their pro rata share of the bonded amount. Altamonte and Longwood decided to consolidate into one school. 

In the bond election of July 1923, the plan was approved by the majority, and the contract was let to J.B. Southard Company of Orlando. The cornerstone was laid with an impressive ceremony by the Longwood, Sanford, and Altamonte Masonic lodges in August 1924. The death of Howard Charles Lyman occurred on July 7, just five days before the bond election; in appreciation of his work with Mr. Overstreet, the school was given Mr. Lyman’s name. 

The new school opened in September, 1924, under the supervision of Professor Howard C. Douglas with three assistants. Professor J.B. Anthony took over in 1925 with five assistants. In 1926 Professor Herbert Chaffer added several new features to the school, and under his administration it became an accredited Junior High School. At this time the enrollment had increased to such an extent that it was again necessary to bond the district and add six new rooms to the building. 

Early Growth Continues into the 1960s and 70s 

Mr. J.N. Overholtz and Mr. J.H. Wyse were at the head of the school in 1927 and 1928 respectively. In 1929, the school came under the supervision of Mr. W.J. Wells, Jr., who had nine assistants. Lyman School was accredited through the twelfth grade under the leadership of Mr. W.J. Wells, Jr. 

Lyman School was renamed Lyman High School in 1963 when it became an accredited institution under the leadership of Carlton D. Henley. Three years later, Lyman High School became fully integrated, admitting its first black students in 1966. In 1969, Lyman High School moved to a newly constructed state-of-the-art campus approximately 1/4 mile to the north, while the former Lyman campus became R. T. Milwee Junior High School, named after Rayburn T. Milwee, Sr., a former Lyman teacher, Lyman principal, and Superintendent of Seminole County Schools. As originally envisioned, Milwee Junior High School was to become a second junior high for grades 7 through 9, feeding into Lyman along with the pre-existing South Seminole Junior High School in Casselberry. Students residing in Milwee's catchment area that were already attending South Seminole Junior High were allowed to continue attending that school and Milwee was initially established with only a 7th grade class.

In the fall of 1970, Seminole County transitioned to a "middle school" concept and all existing junior high schools were redesigned as middle schools. Under this concept, all elementary schools would now incorporate mandatory kindergarten programs and accommodate students in grades K through 5. Middle schools would incorporate 6th grade students formerly in the elementary schools and accommodate grades 6 through 8. Finally, 9th grade programs previously resident in the junior high schools would transfer to the senior high schools, making all high schools grade 9 through 12 institutions. However, explosive population growth in South Seminole County during the 1960s made such a transition less than optimal. During the 1970-71 academic year, the inclusion of 9th grade students from the former South Seminole Junior High School mandated "double sessions" for the first time in Lyman High School's history. Under double sessions, approximately 50% of Lyman's students began class at 7:00am, finishing at 1:30pm. At 11:30am, the second cohort of students would arrive, finishing at 6:00pm. The comparatively new Lyman campus, originally constructed for approximately 1,500 students, now housed well in excess of 2,000 students; this tended to peak during loading between 11:30am and 1:30pm, which mandated the installation and use of numerous portable classroomson the campus.

In June 1971, Milwee Middle School was closed and its 7th and 8th grade students between the dates of September 1971 and June 1972; during this time they were transferred to the newly completed Teague Middle School near the Forest City area of Altamonte Springs. The former Milwee Middle School, which was the original Lyman campus, then became a "satellite campus" of Lyman High School for the 1971-72 academic year, providing additional classroom facilities for primarily 9th and 10th grade students. It was not unusual for students, especially 10th grade, to have classes on both campuses, commuting between both via shuttle bus or on foot in a manner similar to college/university students. The following academic year, 1972–73, all Lyman students returned to the main campus to a beautiful, larger campus built to house all of its students. That same year, Lake Brantley High School was established with 9th and 10th grade students, using the former Milwee-cum-Lyman "satellite campus" until its permanent facility in the Forest City area of Altamonte Springs was completed in mid-1973. Lyman's last "3 year program", serving grades 10-12, class graduated in 1973 and its first "4 year program" now serving grade 9-12, class graduated in 1974. The 1974 class was also Lyman's, at the time, largest graduating class at that time, numbering over 740 students. It was also the last graduating class whose population contained students from nearly all of South Seminole County, to include the entire catchment area for Lake Brantley High School, the entire catchment areas for the later constructed Lake Howell High School and major portions of the catchment areas for the later constructed Lake Mary High School and Winter Springs High School.  

Carlton Henley 

As principal from 1963 through 1994, Carlton Henley played a huge role in the development of Lyman High School; he for one was primarily responsible for bringing approximately $900,000 in grant money to Lyman High School and Seminole County. Mr. Henley also developed one of the most highly technological high schools in the state, as well as the institution of the double-period schedule for students, a dropout prevention program, a staff development program for teachers, and provided leadership for the development of the most comprehensive athletic facility of any high school in the state. In 1984, he was named Florida Principal of the Year.  

In 1994, after three decades of leading Lyman High School through massive growth, development, and change, Mr. Henley retired from Lyman and Seminole County Public Schools to pursue local politics. Mr. Henley is currently a District 4 Commissioner, working primarily with transportation concerns and issues inside Seminole County.

The 21st Century—Institute for Engineering 

After Mr. Henley’s departure, Dr. Peter Gorman stepped in as Lyman High School’s new principal. After three years of continuing Lyman’s legacy and history, Dr. Gorman moved on to work in Osceola and then Orange County, turning over the school to Mr. Sam Momary in 1997.

 

In 1999, Lyman celebrated its 75th anniversary with a spectacular Homecoming Celebration and the Lyman High School Hall of Fame was created.

 

The year 2000 marked the first year of Lyman's new magnet program, the Institute for Engineering and Technology. Under Mr. Momary’s leadership, Lyman was being transformed before the Longwood community’s very eyes. During Mr. Momary’s time at Lyman, many renovations took place, including a new kitchen for the food preparation and nutrition classes, additional classroom buildings to house the expanding population of Lyman High School, and a new performing arts facility, complete with an auditorium, dance studio, and band room. Mr. Momary served and continued Lyman’s legacy for seven years and in the year 2004, left Lyman to become the first Principal at Hagerty High School in Oviedo.

 

Mr. Casillo took over as the school’s Principal in the Fall of 2004.  During Mr. Casillo’s tenure, the school district attendance zones were changed.  The community was torn, but under his leadership, Mr. Casillo brought a new level of pride and spirit to the school.  With updates to the Engineering Curriculum, the introduction of a Rowing Team, and bringing Solar Energy to the school, the community began to once again believe in the school.  After serving the school for seven years, Mr. Casillo left Lyman at the end of the 2010-2011 school year to exercise his talents at Lake Howell High School.

 

Starting in June of 2011, Mr. Brian Urichko was the principal of Lyman High School. Mr. Urichko worked to make Lyman a 21st century school by empowering students to succeed in achieving academic success through embracing innovative technologies and infiltrating and inspiring the greyhound way of life. Lyman High School during this time achieved an “A” school grade for three consecutive years, peaking in the performance aspects of the school through various avenues. He left Lyman in March of 2016 to pursue additional opportunities inside his educational career at The Masters Academy, located in Oviedo, Florida.

We Are Lyman 

In June of 2016, Mr. Michael Rice was announced as Principal of Lyman High School, coming to the school with experience as a band director and program proprietor for Hagerty High School and Assistant Principal experience from both Seminole High School and Lake Mary High School, all of which are inside Seminole County. Mr. Rice has brought fresh new life to Lyman and students and staff alike see the school continuing to make strides toward maintaining the excellence that is Lyman High School. Mr. Rice is the current principal of Lyman High School.

Overall, Lyman High School has always been on the cutting edge and remains poised to jump at the new ideas and technologies that will change the lives of our students. Lyman High School and Seminole County Public Schools are dedicated to preparing students for College, Career, and Citizenship to help students be ready for the 21st century global society. The Lyman High School community is more diverse and inclusive than it has ever been, and embodies the phrase “We Are Lyman”—both welcoming the individuality of all, and bringing everyone together as a whole. The school is poised to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2024.

Written by English and AP Psychology teacher Robert Hovel, 2018. Information to create this history was taken from the 75th anniversary edition book Journey Toward Excellence and the Wikipedia page, which can be located at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyman_High_School (May 2018).