The History of Robinson High School

October 8, 2014 | South Tampa Magazine | Categories: Culture, Editorial, History | Tags: History of Robinson High School, International Baccalaureate Programme Tampa, Johnnie Bush, T.R. Robinson High School, Thomas Richard Robinson

T.R. Robinson High School

South of Gandy Boulevard, the pride is strong for Robinson High and its IB program


Year built: 1959

Student body: 1,600

Mascot: Knight

Colors: Black, White & Gray

Principal: Johnnie Bush

Magnets/Specialty Programs: International Baccalaureate Programme and Aerospace Technology


South of Gandy

T.R. Robinson High School was originally built to relieve the overcrowding that was occurring at H.B. Plant High School. With the population continuing to grow south of Gandy Boulevard due to MacDill Air Force Base, the county decided to explore locations for a new high school. Principal Paul Wharton was tasked with selecting the first faculty at what would be a 42-room school comprised of about 1,200 students. The building itself is much like it was when it was first designed and built. The student body at its inception in 1959 was nearly all students living south of El Prado Boulevard. That population would expand to more than 2,000 by the late 60s and early 70s. But when MacDill downsized in the 80s, so too did the enrollment at Robinson.


Pride through Excellence

Six years ago, Robinson became the third school in Hillsborough County to have an International Baccalaureate Programme (IB). It was Robinson’s third try at receiving the nomination. The IB program offers students what are considered pre-college courses, with the chance to earn an IB diploma upon graduation. This designation helped kick-start what some considered a struggling high school during the 90s and beyond as MacDill scaled down its operations and its employees looked to eastern Hillsborough County for homes.


T.R. Robinson

Originally from Geneva, Alabama, Thomas Richard Robinson is University of Florida graduate and a former teacher who taught at George Washington Junior High School starting in 1917. Robinson later went on to teach at Woodrow Wilson Junior High School before being appointed principal at Ballast Point School, where he remained for 30 years. He was in local, state and national education associations and also served as a member of the Board of Directors at the Teacher’s Credit Union. T.R. Robinson High School was officially dedicated on Nov. 6, 1960.

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Notable Alumni

Terry Bollea (1971): Wrestler and actor, a.k.a “Hulk Hogan”

Larry Smith (1964): running back for Los Angeles Rams and Washington Redskins

John Reaves (1967): NFL quarterback from 1972-1987


Hallway Notes

  • The Rockets and Raiders were among the names suggested for the school mascot before the Knight emerged as the official selection.
  • The Excalibur yearbook color rotates school colors each year between black, gray and white.
  • Jack Peters Field was dedicated on Nov. 23, 1960 before the first game ever to be played on the field. According the first-ever Robinson yearbook, the field was named after Mr. Jack Peters, “who not only worded tediously to put the lights on the field, but also helped Robinson in just about any way possible.”