McClellan High School was named for U.S. Senator John Little McClellan (1896-1977). It originally was a part of the Pulaski County Special School District. Opened in 1965, McClellan was built as a replacement school for the old Mabelvale High School. When McClellan opened its doors, Mabelvale was no longer needed as a high school and was converted into a junior high school (now Mabelvale Magnet Middle School). By 1980 enrollment at McClellan had grown to 1,800 students; with the opening of the new J.A. Fair High School in 1982, McClellan's attendance zone decreased, and the resulting decrease in students was the beginning of a trend that continued until the early 1990s. McClellan and Fair were annexed by the Little Rock School District in 1987. With a new faculty, administrators and students, the school was forced to redefine itself. This process, though difficult, was aided by the inception of two new programs: The Community Education Program and the Business/Communications Magnet Program.
A history of strong support in the McClellan community was a big factor in the decision to initiate the McClellan Community Education Program, which provides night and evening classes for adults and enrichment programs for children. This program began in 1990. The school's Business/Communications Magnet program began in the fall of 1992 with six study strands: business principles and management, marketing and advertising, economics and finance, written communications, oral communications and visual/product communications. McClellan's current magnet programs (defined in 2000) offer students areas of study in business/finance, multimedia/graphic design and engineering. McClellan was named an Arkansas Blue Ribbon School in 1998. This award recognizes overall achievement in a school's programs, faculty and academic performance. The school also received the "Outstanding Business Education Program in the Nation" award twice, from 1995-97 and 1998-2000, from the American Vocation Association and Glencoe-McGraw-Hill Publishing Company. The school's magnet programs aligned perfectly with its designation as a Model Technology High School. The goal of the administration was to prepare students for college and/or careers at McClellan by offering advanced courses in business, computer technology and communications. Additions/renovations were made to the school in 1969, 1973, 1975, 1978, 1980, 1982, 1992 and 2004.
The school discontinued traditional high school operations at the end of the 2019-20 school year, with students reassigned to the new Little Rock Southwest High School for 2020-21 and subsequent school years.
John L. McClellan was born February 25, 1896, on a farm near Sheridan, Arkansas. He was admitted to the Arkansas Bar in 1913 at the age of 17, becoming the youngest lawyer in the United States. He joined the Army in August 1917 and opened a law office in Malvern following his 1919 discharge. McClellan's long political career began in 1920 when he was chosen City Attorney of Malvern, a post he held until 1926. He was elected Prosecuting Attorney at age 30 for the 7th Judicial District of Arkansas. Elected to Congress in 1934, he served two terms (1935-1938) in the U.S. House of Representatives from the 6th Congressional District of Arkansas. In 1938 McClellan unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate, then ran again and won in 1942.
He served in the Senate until his death in 1977, longer than anyone in the state's history. McClellan earned the highest committee rank ever attained by an Arkansan in the Senate: Chair of the Committee on Appropriations. He first emerged as a national figure during the McCarthy "witch-hunt" hearings of 1954. Under Senator McClellan's leadership, some of the most well-known and significant investigations in the nation's history were conducted: probes into corruption and criminal activities in the labor-management field, organized crime, riots in cities and college campuses in the late 1960s and probes into the activities of teamsters Dave Beck and Jimmy Hoffa (the so-called "Valachi hearings"). Senator McClellan died November 28, 1977, in Little Rock.
McClellan High School web site
Ouachita Baptist University web site, Senator John L. McClellan Collection page
USA Today; Tuesday, 12 Dec 1995, page 9A.If you have information about a Little Rock school or photographs that you would like to contribute to this project (we will return photographs if requested), please contact us!
Updated July 2020