The Superintendent of Schools and the Board of Education recognized the need for a second high school in Lubbock and implemented this need by beginning definite planning for the school on November 17, 1952. The contract was set for the construction of the building on January 28, 1954, with September 1, 1955, set as the completion date.
In the spring of 1955, the Board of Education asked for suggestions for the name of the new school. "Monterey" was selected by the school board as the name of Lubbock's second high school from a list of names suggested by citizens. The name is significant since one the the two townsites which later combined to become Lubbock was called Monterey. As E. J. Lowery wrote in The Early History of Lubbock, in 1890 W. E. Rayner laid out a townsite in Section 20, about the present location of 4th Street and University Avenue. He called it Monterey. Earlier the same year, F. E. Wheelock had laid out a town on the north side of Yellowhouse Canyon and called it Lubbock in honor of Thomas S. Lubbock, an officer in the Confederate Army and a brother of Frank R. Lubbock, the Civil War governor of Texas. In 1891 Wheelock and Rayner agreed to consolidate Monterey and Old Lubbock. They moved the buildings from these old locations to a new one in Section 11, the present site of downtown Lubbock in 1891.
Also in the spring of 1955, students from the 8th through 11th grade classification who were to attend Monterey at its opening were elected to a planning committee. This committee submitted three sets of school colors and several names for athletic teams to the student body. From those submitted, Columbia Blue and Scarlet Red were chosen as the official school colors, and "The Plainsman" was designated the official school insignia. This committee also selected the design for the senior ring.
But, Monterey still needed a school song, a fight song and a constitution for the student government. The school administration selected a committee for this consisting of juniors Bryan Baxter and Lynn Richards and seniors Ann Gordon, Harold Hammett, Kay Liner, Mack Robertson and Sarah Simmons.
The committee met during the early summer of 1955, under the guidance of B. J. Randles, then-student activities director. They wrote the words of the school song to the melody of "Gaudeamus Igitur," from the musical "The Student Prince" (1954, starring Ann Blyth, Edmund Perdom and Edmund Gwenn, distributed by MGM home Entertainment). Although none of the student writers knew it then, "Gaudeamus Igitur" is a medieval German melody by and unknown composer. It was given its present form about 1788 and became an internationally famous students' song. Brahms used the melody as a theme in his "Academic Festival Overture."
Monterey's first band director, Dr. Ted Crager, assisted in composing the words to the school songs and in obtaining copyright consent from Ohio State to use the melody from "Across the Field" for the Monterey Fight Song. Dr. Crager later became band director at the University of Southern California.
All of the committee members were elected to the first student body officers: Mack Roberston, student body president; Sara Simmons, student body secretary; Bryan Baxter, vice president; Lynn Richards, treasurer; and Kay Liner, head cheerleader. Harold Hammett was elected president of the first senior class, and Ann Gordon its secretary.
The circle emblem of Monterey located at the front entrance, the class gift of Monterey's first graduating class (1956), was inspired by a scene in "Rebel Without a Cause" released in 1955 (starring James Dean, Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo and Dennis Hopper, distributed by Warner Home Video, Ltd.) In 1956 the faculty began the tradition of selecting Mr. Monterey and Miss Monterey, modeled on Lubbock High's All Westerner Boy and Girl.
On September 7, 1955, the first student body of Monterey High school entered the school to assume their studies in a building not nearly completed. Cluttering the halls were workmen, tools, electrical cords, and building supplies, and the sound of construction could be heard anytime of the day. As the years went by, more construction was completed. In 1961, 32 additional classrooms were added. This addition has become known as the annex. In January 1993, a new gymnasium was dedicated. This addition brought with it improvements including the remodeling of the field house area, air conditioning, window replacement, parking lots, and a tennis facility with eight courts.
To set worthwhile precedents and appropriate traditions for future classes was ever in the minds of the Monterey Planning Committee as they coordinated activities during the first year. The first Chaparral and Monterey Mirror staffs worked hard to create an outstanding permanent record of the first year. The activities of the first year have become the traditions that following student bodies have celebrated and cherished. In the years since its founding, Monterey has grown into a comprehensive high school where the needs of any high school student may be met. It is truly a triple A-rated school whose students excel in Academics, Activities, and Athletics.
One of the new traditions set was the tradition of the silver spurs. Monterey was built in south Lubbock as the growth of the city west of Avenue Q and south of 34th Street made this necessary. The student body of Tom S. Lubbock High School came from north, central, west, and south Lubbock, but with the new school to the south, half of the Westerners became Plainsmen in the fall of 1955. In order to promote a friendly rivalry in this new situation, the two student councils and the administration designated the Silver Spurs as a trophy for the varsity football game. Many ex-Westerners still lived in the city and the community interest was high. Texas Tech's Jones Stadium was used to hold the crowds as this game drew wide area interest. Until the opening of Monterey, Lubbock High School's chief rival was the Amarillo Sandies. When former classmates started a new school, Westerner prominence was challenged, and they looked to their cross-town rivals with intensity. In the fall of 1956, on a Thanksgiving Day, before 11,000 fans, the final score was the new Monterey Plainsmen- 27, the Lubbock High Westerners- 7. The ceremony of having the football captains light a "Spirit Candle" was also begun. The Spirit Candle was to burn night and day to symbolically snuff out the Westerner football spirit.