CENTRAL 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 blocks south.

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 1976.

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.
Tulsa Central High School Foundation, Inc. • P.O. Box 35274 • Tulsa, OK 74153-0274 • Email Address: webmaster