Burn Sam

What is the rivalry between PHS and Sam Rayburn H S so intense?


During the rapid expansion of the student population in PISD during the sixties, the school board redrew boundaries to accommodate the new schools as they opened.  In order to level the numbers of each school’s student bodies, sometimes neighborhoods that had always fed a certain high school were split.  Even within families, it was possible for the older kids to go to one high school and the younger kids to a different, new high school. 


The necessary boundary changes caused by the district’s growth created a lot of competition and divided school loyalties.  That was true when South Houston H S opened, and it was especially true when Sam Rayburn H S became the newest addition to the school district. When Rayburn opened its doors in 1964, some former students of Pasadena High and South Houston High suddenly became Sam Rayburn Texans.  Rayburn was nicknamed “Super School”, because it opened with about 3000 students.  The rivalry between PHS and Rayburn was real and exciting.  


The fact remains, however, that what sets PHS apart from every other high school in the district is that our roots and our school history are the deepest!  Much of the success of our school district and our Pasadena community began with PHS as the flagship high school of the Pasadena ISD.

  (source:  PHS alumni Linda Duke & Penny Nowak Buenger)

What is the tradition of “Burn Sam”?


“Sam” is the mascot of the Sam Rayburn Texans.  The rivalry between PHS, PISD’s oldest school, and Sam Rayburn, its newest school in 1964, was especially intense.  That rivalry manifested itself in the mid-sixties when an effigy of Sam was hung from a pole at the pep rallies before the annual PHS-Rayburn football games. 


The tradition of hanging Sam continued; but in 1970, a new twist was added---not only did Sam hang, but he was also set on fire at the pep rally.  Now, more than 40 years later, that tradition continues.  


A night pep rally still celebrates the end of the week that PHS plays Rayburn.  The whole school is encouraged to turn out to watch the highlight of the pep rally, which is seeing “Sam” burn.  The “Sam” that burns is a paper mache creation made by students in the art department.  Sam has gone high tech in recent years so that Sam even glows in various colors while he burns. 


In the fall of 2007, a “Burn Sam Carnival” was added, and a new tradition was born.  The afternoon carnival includes many booths, such as Water War, Guitar Hero, Football Toss, Pie Throwing, Face Painting, and food booths where many types of food and candy are sold.  Clubs and organizations show their school spirit and pride by operating booths for the various activities and games.  As soon as the carnival is over, the Burn Sam pep rally begins, where PHS continues the burning of ole’ Sam.


One tradition similar to burning Sam was celebrating the death of the South Houston H S Trojan mascot, Hector.  The 1968 Pasadenian mentions that Hector’s funeral procession was lead by sympathetic faculty and students, until Hector’s coffin was placed in a hearse.  This tradition did not survive.


(Source: Penny Nowak Buenger, head cheerleader ’68; Wynan McCafferty Pelly, cheerleader ’71; Tricia Cherry; Stephanie Bailey; Linda Duke; 1968 Pasadenian)

What is “Green and White Week”?


The week that is set aside as “Green and White Week” is the week that PHS plays Rayburn.  It is an opportunity to show true Eagle Pride.  Each day of the week is a different spirit day, and students are encouraged to dress accordingly (for example- Western, fifties, hippie, crazy hair).  The week ends with Green and White Day when students are encouraged to wear green and white, including painted jeans and tee shirts.  Even though Eagles are encouraged to show their pride for every game, there is a more intense display during Rayburn week.      (source: Tricia Cherry)