¡ CLASS of 1956 !




55th Reunion PHOTOS



Congratulations on your Career & Retirement, Mary Martha!

July 19, 2012




 Retired educator:
 Arts, Academics Mix

By Paul M. Kopenkoskey

Mary Martha Lappe was serving as chairwoman of the University of Houston dance studio when she was asked to help launch the High School For The Performing And Visual Arts in 1971.

The original plan for the Meyerland resident was to take a one-year leave of absence from the UH. Instead, her association with HSPVA extended to more than 40 years.

“I really enjoyed being a part of a good public school for the arts as it evolved,” Lappe said.

The nascent years of that evolution started during a tumultuous time in the nation’s history, Lappe recalled, when race riots and school integration had pockets of the United States up in arms.  Amid the turmoil, national media reported on what HSPVA was working to accomplish, and the school’s phone rang off the hook.

“It was mentioned this small inner-city school in Houston was attracting black, brown, Asian, and white kids from all over that were doing well and earning scholarships,” Lappe said. “We started getting phone calls from school districts all over the country saying “We want to talk to those people who started a magnet school for the arts in Houston.”

Lappe said she believes the key to HSPVA’s success is administrators who insisted on fusing scholastics with the arts.

“We didn’t want it viewed as a play school where students didn’t have anything to show after high school,” Lappe said. “We wanted a good academic program along with good performing and visual arts training.”

Lappe was chairwoman of the HSPVA Dance Department for 25 years. In 1997, she became executive director of HSPVA FRIENDS, a nonprofit organization that raised $8 million in private support for the school and its students, including $1.6 million in scholarships. She retired in May.

“ I could see public education in the arts really worked, and in the 70’s, that was hard to find,” Lappe said. “Kids were exceeding our expectations. We knew that what we were doing was working, and that’s a wonderful feeling.”

Lappe has worked 52 years in public education.


Click Any Photo to Return to News Page

June 2012 - Houston, Texas
MM's RETIREMENT BASH - Hawaiian Luau Theme with 100+ Guests

Mary Martha Monroe-Lappe & Husband Jack Lappe with Beautiful Daughters, Sons-in-Law & Granddaughter


Mary Martha & Granddaughter Grace


Mary 'Twerp' (Knight) & husband Gary McGarr and MM

Super Congratulations!
 Mary Martha & Jack's 50th Anniversary
August 18, 2012

Jack & Mary Martha Mary, center
Standing, center:  Leo & Dr. Karin (Waugh) Shipman, Twerp & Gary McGarr