HIGH SCHOOL by Joyce Saunders
|In 1906 Tulsa High
School, a new cream-colored brick building with a gold-leaf
dome, was erected in the center of the 4th and Boston block
at a cost of $60, 000. Surrounding the building before long
were many small (one and two-room) buildings called "jitneys"
much like our present pre-fabs. In later years, when that building
was razed, the Greek columns at the entrance were placed at
the northeast corner of Lee School, which had the stadium where
Central High School football games were played for many years.
In 1913 Tulsa High School
was accredited by the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges
- the third school to be accredited in the state. Muskogee HS and
Friends Hillside Mission Academy, 4 miles north of Skiatook, were
accredited earlier. Tulsa Central High School has been continuously
accredited since 1913.
In 1916 voters approved $300, 000 in
bonds to build a new and larger high school at Sixth & Cincinnati.
The north half of Central High School opened in 1917; the south
half of the redbrick building was added in 1922. The Manual Arts
Building at Ninth & Cincinnati was opened in 1925 and the shops
classes were moved there. Today the old Manual Arts/Industrial Arts
Building is a part of the Activities Center for the Downtown Campus
of Tulsa Community College.
||Tulsa grew and so
did Central High School. Peak enrollment was reached in 1938
with over 5,000 students in Grades 10-12. At that time the Board
of Education Building on the northeast part of the block housing
the original mission school provided 10 classrooms and also
housed the entire administrative staff of the school system.
Students in the Central High Building were given 4 additional
minutes to reach classes in either the "Board'1 Building,
a block and one-half north, or the Manual Arts Building, two
Until 1939 Central High School was
the only white public high school in Tulsa. Booker T. Washington,
which dates to 1913 was a separate school with separate funding
until schools were integrated in the 1950s. Central can be called
the "Parent School" for some of her students and staff
left when Webster opened in January 1939 and when Will Rogers opened
in the Fall of 1939. Later Edison (1955), Nathan Hale (1959), McLain
(1959), Memorial (1962), East Central (1962), and Mason (1974) opened.
Mason was later closed. Washington High School was restructured
as a magnet school, half white and half black in the 70s. Central's
traditions helped to mold the character and rituals of the other
high schools in Tulsa as staff and students moved to the new schools.
With growth of the city and changes
in traffic patterns, two major deficiencies in the red brick Central
High School became apparent: a lack of outdoor physical education
facilities when the downtown expressway cut off access to Central
Park and made it more hazardous to reach Tracy Park tennis courts;
and a lack of free parking for students and staff. The Board of
Education was paying $20, 000 a month for staff parking at Central.
These inadequacies could not be corrected satisfactorily.
|Bonds were voted and
the Sixth & Cincinnati site was sold to Public Service Company.
The new Central High School was located on 47 acres at 31st
and West Edison in a beautiful tree-covered area "where
the Osage hills look down". Designed by Joseph R. Coleman
the building has an open Commons area, two revolving classrooms
that can be opened to add seating to
the auditorium, and an Olympic-size swimming pool. The auditorium,
music and art facilities in the building, and the access to outdoor
classrooms make the site ideal for the school system's Summer Arts
& Humanities classes. The new building opened in the fall of
A 1990 school bond issue enabled the
school system to build a new west wing, which has two state-of-the-art
science labs and four classrooms, along with a prominent new entrance
that includes the Hall of Fame in its lobby. Revenue from a 1999
school bond issue is currently expanding the capacity of the Fine
Arts Program with the addition of classrooms and many other renovations.
Tulsa Central High School is Tulsa's only Fine Arts Magnet School. The emphasis on fine arts began as early as the beginning of Central High School itself. Steeped in a rich history, Central High School embodies the spirit of Tulsans and their love for the Arts. The new building for Central High School was built to incorporate a multi-centered facility, one that would support the Arts, Academics and Athletics. In the fall of 1997 Central joined the Magnet Schools of America, with the endorsement of the Tulsa Arts and Humanities Council and the support of the Jazz Hall of Fame. The faculty and administration, along with the Foundation, are committed to providing an education where every child cannot just succeed, but excel. As Partners in Education at CHS, the Public Service Company of Oklahoma and the Tulsa Arts and Humanities Council have become sponsors of the school. In September 2007, we received a federal grant to help establish a fine arts magnet, which will offer programs of study in Theatre and Dance, Vocal and Instrumental Music, Visual Arts, and Arts Management and Production. Central High School will be the only high school in the country to offer curriculum in Arts Management and Production.
There are still many things that would
be helpful in meeting these goals. We encourage every loyal graduate
of Central to come a part of our tradition, to adopt our commitment
to excellence and to touch the life of a child. The mission of Tulsa
Central High School is to create and provide a program of excellence
in academics through the ARTS. Our beliefs and our vision serve
as the foundation for our motto: "Braves' success is developed
through the Spirit, Mind, and Body."
||Public Service Company of Oklahoma renovated the old red brick building at 6th and Cincinnati to use as its headquarters. Although PSO completely redesigned the interior of the old building, the exterior has been carefully restored. In November 2007, PSO received the Foundation Landmark Award from the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture for preservation of the building as a significant part of Tulsa’s heritage.