The South Redford School District’s history goes back to George C. Fisher Elementary, which was dedicated in October 1928. Starting in the 1940’s, there were many additions made to the school to accommodate the growing population in the South Redford community, as the baby boom was in full force during this time through the 1950’s.
New homes and subdivisions were built, and South Redford saw a substantial increase in enrollment, leading to the construction of more schools to accommodate the students. Sylvester T. Shear Elementary was the first of these built in this period; completed in 1946, Shear is now used for the District’s Administrative Offices.
During this era, seven additional schools were constructed: Clyde Ashcroft (1948); Stephens T Mason (1950); Will Rogers (1956); Arthur H. Vandenberg (1956); Horace Mann (1957); Thomas Jefferson (1958); and Jane Addams (1963). Near the end of the construction period in 1959, John D. Pierce Junior High was built, followed by George C. Marshall Junior High in 1960. Today, only Fisher, Vandenberg, Jefferson, Addams, Pierce, and Thurston remain, serving about 3,200 students of South Redford.
Amidst this boom, Thurston High School was built in 1953 to meet the changing needs of the South Redford students.
Lee Mohrmann Thurston (1895-1953), a leader in the field of public education, had his roots firmly planted in Ann Arbor. Born in Michigan, he earned his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Michigan. In 1931, after teaching in the Michigan high schools of Manistee and Owosso, and serving as Superintendent of Schools in Perry, Mich., Dr. Thurston came to the Ann Arbor District as Assistant Superintendent of Schools and Treasurer of the Board of Education.
In 1935, he became Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction for the state of Michigan. Later, in 1948, after achieving a professor’s chair at the University of Pittsburgh and serving as Lecturer in education at the University of Michigan, he became Superintendent of Public Instruction for Michigan. His career culminated in 1952 with his appointment as United States Commissioner of Education, a post he filled with distinction until his untimely death in 1953.