Little Rock Central High School
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Little Rock Central High School
Little Rock Central High School
Facade of Central High School - Little Rock - Arkansas - USA - 01.jpg
Front entrance to Little Rock Central High School
1500 Park Street
Little Rock, Arkansas 72202-5843
United States
School type Comprehensive
public high school
Founded 1869 (1869) Sherman School
1905 Little Rock HS
1927 (1927) (current facility)
Status Open
School district Little Rock School District
NCES District ID 0509000[1]
CEEB code 041422
NCES School ID 050900000607[2]
Principal Nancy Rousseau (2002-)
Teaching staff 160.86 (on FTE basis)[2]
Grades 9-12
Enrollment 2,456 (2010-11[2])
 o Grade 9 724
 o Grade 10 624
 o Grade 11 609
 o Grade 12 480
Student to teacher ratio 15.27[2]
Education system
  • Arkansas Smart Core Curriculum
  • Little Rock Scholars
  • International Studies Career Focus
  • Environmental Science Magnet/Career Focus
  • Information Science Magnet/Career Focus
  • Systems Engineering Magnet/Career Focus
Classes offered Regular, Career Focus, Advanced Placement
Hours in school day 6.75
Campus size 18 acres (7.3 ha)
Color(s)      Black
     Old gold
Fight song On, Tigers! (based on On, Wisconsin!)
Athletics conference 7A/6A East (2012-14)
Team name Tigers
Rival Little Rock Hall, Little Rock Catholic
Accreditation ADE
AdvancED (1924-)
USNWR ranking Unranked (2012)[3]
National ranking No. 275 (2013)
No. 119 (2012)
No. 123 (2011)
No. 92 (2010)
No. 55 (2009)
No. 32 (2008)
No. 23 (2007)[4]
Publication The Labyrinth
Newspaper The Tiger
Yearbook The Pix
Communities served Little Rock
Little Rock Central High School
Little Rock Central High School is located in Arkansas
Little Rock Central High School
Little Rock Central High School is located in the US
Little Rock Central High School
Location Little Rock, Arkansas
Coordinates 34°44?12?N 92°17?56?W / 34.7368°N 92.2989°W / 34.7368; -92.2989Coordinates: 34°44?12?N 92°17?56?W / 34.7368°N 92.2989°W / 34.7368; -92.2989
Area 17.95 acres (7.26 ha)
Architect Parks Almand, John
Architectural style Gothic Revival
Visitation 44,293 (2005)
Part of Central High School Neighborhood Historic District (#96000892)
NRHP reference # 77000268[5]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP August 19, 1977
Designated NHL May 20, 1982[6]
Designated CP August 16, 1996
Designated NHS November 6, 1998 (#01000274)

Little Rock Central High School (LRCHS) is an accredited comprehensive public high school in Little Rock, Arkansas, United States. Central High School was the site of forced school desegregation after the US Supreme Court ruled in 1954 that segregation of public schools was unconstitutional. This was during the period of heightened activism in the Civil Rights Movement.[7] Central is located at the intersection of Daisy L. Gatson Bates Drive (named for the civil rights leader and formerly known as 14th Street) and Park Street.[8]

Central can trace its origins to 1869 when the Sherman School operated in a wooden structure at 8th and Sherman streets; it graduated its first class on June 13, 1873. In 1885 the Sherman School was moved to 14th and Scott streets and was named Scott Street School, but was more commonly called City High School. Five years later in 1890, the Peabody School was constructed at West Capitol and Gaines streets. It was named in honor of philanthropist George Peabody from US$200,000 received via the Peabody Education Fund. In 1905, the city founded Little Rock High School at the intersection of 14th and Cumberland streets, and shuttered the Peabody and Scott Street schools to serve as the city's sole public high school. At the time only white students were enrolled.

In 1927 at a cost of US$1.5 million, the city completed construction on the nation's largest and most expensive high school facility, which remains in use today. In 1953 with the construction of Hall High School, the school was renamed as Little Rock Central High School. It has since been listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and named as a U.S. National Historic Landmark and National Historic Site.

Central High School, which covers grades 9 through 12, has an enrollment of 2,456 (2010-11).[2] It is in the Little Rock School District.[9] The current principal is Nancy Rousseau, who became principal in 2002.[8]


Early campus history

Built in 1927 at a cost of $1.5 million, Little Rock Senior High School was designed in the Gothic Revival style; it was hailed as the most expensive, most beautiful, and largest high school in the nation. Statues of four figures over the front entrance represent ambition, personality, opportunity, and preparation.[10] Its opening earned national publicity, with nearly 20,000 people attending the dedication ceremony. In 1953 it was renamed as Little Rock Central High School.

At the time in Arkansas and other states across the South, public school educational facilities were legally racially segregated. In 1954 the US Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that such segregation in public schools was unconstitutional, and encouraged the states to integrate their schools. Related historic events in the 1950s changed education at Central High School and throughout the United States.

Little Rock integration

LRCHS was the focal point of the Little Rock Integration Crisis of 1957.[7] Nine Black students, known as the Little Rock Nine, were denied entrance to the school in defiance of the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling ordering integration of public schools.[7] This provoked a showdown between the Governor Orval Faubus and President Dwight D. Eisenhower that gained international attention.[7]

On the morning of September 23, 1957, the nine Black high school students faced an angry mob of over 1,000 Whites in front of Central High School who were protesting the integration project.[7] As the students were escorted inside by the Little Rock police, violence escalated, and they were removed from the school.[7] The next day, President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered the 1,200-man 327th Airborne Battle Group of the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, to escort the nine students into the school.[7] By the same order, he federalized the entire 10,000-man Arkansas National Guard, in order to remove them from the control of Governor Faubus.[7] At nearby Camp Robinson, a hastily organized Task Force 153rd Infantry drew guardsmen from units all over the state.[7] Most of the Arkansas Guard was quickly demobilized, but the ad hoc TF153Inf assumed control at Thanksgiving when the 327th withdrew, and patrolled inside and outside the school for the remainder of the school year. As Melba Pattillo Beals, one of the nine students, wrote in her diary, "After three full days inside Central [High School], I know that integration is a much bigger word than I thought."[11]

Members of the 327th Airborne Battle Group, 101st Airborne Division, escorting the Little Rock Nine to school.

This event, watched by the nation and world, was the site of the first important test for the implementation of the U.S. Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954.[7] Many areas of the South pledged to resist this ruling. Arkansas' governor Orval Faubus questioned the authority of the federal court system and the validity of desegregation. The crisis at Little Rock's Central High School was the first fundamental test of the national resolve to enforce black civil rights in the face of massive resistance during the years following the Brown decision. As to whether Eisenhower's specific actions to enforce integration violated the Posse Comitatus Act, the Supreme Court, in Cooper v. Aaron (1958), indirectly affirmed the legality of his conduct. It was never expressly reviewed.[12]

In 1958, federal Judge Jesse Smith Henley of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, stating that integration had "broken down under the pressure of public opinion," suspended operation of the federal integration order until the 1960-61 school term. The school board said that it had faced large fees and could not afford to hire security guards to keep the peace in school.[13]

LRCHS was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 19, 1977, and was designated as a National Historic Landmark on May 20, 1982.[14] The school continues to be used as an educational facility.

In 2007, Central High School held an event for the 50th Anniversary of the Little Rock Nine entering Central. On September 24, 2007, a new museum was opened honoring the Little Rock Nine. That same year, HBO produced a documentary film directed by the Renaud Brothers, Little Rock Central: 50 Years Later, which explored the significant changes and continuities within the school since its desegregation.

Teaching evolution

Little Rock Central High School made legal history again in 1968, in a case based on the teaching of evolution in the public schools. LRCHS biology teacher Susan Epperson agreed to be the plaintiff in a case challenging an Arkansas law forbidding the teaching of the theory of evolution by natural selection in the public schools. The United States Supreme Court's decision in Epperson v. Arkansas held that states could not require that "teaching and learning must be tailored to the principles or prohibitions of any religious sect or dogma," i.e., the teaching of evolution in schools could not be forbidden on religious grounds.[15]

After integration

As of 2015, approximately 54% of students are black and 46% are white.[16]


President Bill Clinton led celebrations of the 40th anniversary of desegregation at Little Rock Central High School.

The assumed course of study follows the Smart Core curriculum developed by the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE). For 2011-12, Central is in Whole School Improvement Year 4 in its work to reach Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) toward the No Child Left Behind Act.

Central has an International Studies Magnet Program, an EAST Initiative Lab Program, more than 30 service, academic, and honors clubs, award-winning instrumental and concert band and choral programs, and more than 141 courses offered, including 33 AP and Pre-AP courses and 5 foreign languages.[17]


Its student publications include The Tiger (the student newspaper), The Pix (the school yearbook), which was originally named The Cage, and The Labyrinth (the school poetry and arts magazine).

The Pix was inducted into the Arkansas Scholastic Press Association's Arkansas Yearbook Hall of Fame on April 16, 2010. The 2010-11 edition of the PIX received a Silver Medal from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association.[18]

The Tiger is the official news publication of Little Rock Central High School and one of the oldest high school newspapers in the country. It is issued in the form of a quarterly mini-magazine that keeps students updated on issues around the school. The newspaper has won many Arkansas Scholastic Press Association awards. The periodical is known for covering difficult aspects of student life, including eating disorders, drug use, and academic dishonesty.

Awards and recognition

Central is a charter member and has been fully accredited by AdvancED since 1924.[19] It has the oldest charter west of the Mississippi River in the Cum Laude Society.

As of 2008 Central has had the most National Merit and National Achievement finalists in the state over the past 10 years with over $4 million in scholarships awarded during the 2006-07 school year.[17] Central has had five Presidential Scholars in the last decade and had 144 AP Scholars in 2006-07.[17] The school dominates at regional and state Science Fairs.[17] It has the largest number of delegates to Boys' and Girls' State,[17] the most participants in Governor's School Gifted and Talented Program,[17] and has competed in chemistry Olympiad, Arkansas Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, mock trial, various mathematics competitions, and the SECME Olympiad.[17] In addition, Central has had 55 Stephens' Award winners for academic achievement.[17]

The Drama and Competitive Speech program is competitive and became one of the charter chapters of the Arkansas district of the National Forensic League (speech and debate honor society).[20]

The school's choir programs has garnered several Best in Class awards at the annual Arkansas State Choral Festival administered by the Arkansas Choral Directors Association (ArkCDA). In addition, educated Andrew Goldberg. In 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2013, the Little Rock Central Madrigals won Class 7A Best in Class for Mixed Ensemble and Overall Ensemble.[21][22][23][24][25]

Since 2007, Central has been ranked nationally within the top 275 high schools based on the Challenge Index developed by the Washington Post.[4] In Newsweek's June 13, 2010 issue, ranking the country's top high schools, Little Rock Central High School was ranked 94th in the nation, after having been ranked 20th in the magazine's 2006 rankings.[26]

Little Rock Central High School won the National Fed Challenge competition in 2007 and again in 2008.[27][28]

In 2008, Central was the Quiz Bowl division 7A state champion.[29]

The Reflecting Pool was restored during the 2004-05 school year.
Detail of Front Entrance
Entrance Hall

The Little Rock Central Band and Flag Line were selected to participate in the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Parade for Barack Obama.[30]

Extracurricular activities

The Little Rock Central High School mascot for academic and athletic teams is the Tiger, with black and old gold serving as the school colors. The school's fight song, "On, Tigers!" is based on "On, Wisconsin!."[31]


The Little Rock Tigers compete in numerous interscholastic activities in the state's largest classification (7A) in the 7A/6A East Conference for 2012-14, as administered by the Arkansas Activities Association. The Tigers participate in baseball, basketball (boys/girls), bowling, competitive cheer, cross country, football, golf (boys/girls), soccer (boys/girls), softball, swimming & diving (boys/girls), tennis (boys/girls), track & field (boys/girls), volleyball, and wrestling.[32]

Little Rock Central holds numerous team and individual national and state titles and records including:

  • Football: 32 football state championship banners from 1907 through 2004 including the state's all-time win record. Since 1937, home football games are played at Quigley-Cox Stadium at Verizon Wireless Field, originally named for Earl Quigley, a coach for the Tigers from 1914 to 1935. The Tigers won the 1946 and 1957 High School Football National Championship.
  • Cross country: 22 boys' cross country state championships from 1955 through 1982;
  • Track and field: a national-record 50 track & field state championships (1908-1979) with an 18-year consecutive run of titles from 1926 through 1945, followed by a 10-year title winning streak between 1949 and 1958. Both streaks are listed in the national record books.[]
  • Basketball: the boys basketball teams have won 17 state titles between 1912-99, including four consecutive banners (1944-47) and three overall state titles (1972, 1973, 1975);
  • Golf: The boys' golf team has won eight state titles between 1948 and 1982.
  • Soccer: The girls' soccer team won consecutive state titles in 2002 and 2003.
  • Swimming: The girls' swimming and diving team has won eight state titles since 1952.
  • Tennis: The tennis teams have won thirteen titles for the boys' team and seven titles for the girls' team.[33]

Clubs and traditions

Little Rock Central offers a variety of clubs and organizations to support student social and community activities, competitions and events including; Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), Future Educators Association (FEA), Junior Civitan, and Student Council.

In addition to National Honor Society and National Beta Club, exceptional students at Central may be eligible to participate in honor societies including: math (Mu Alpha Theta); science (Science National Honor Society (SNHS)); vocal and instrumental music (Tri-M Music Honor Society); journalism (Quill and Scroll Society); theatre and drama (International Thespian Society); speech and debate as charter members of the Arkansas district of the National Forensic League.[34]

Academic regalia

Students who are members of the following groups wear special academic dress medallions / cords at graduation:[35]

Presented by Color / Honor
Beta Club           Black & Gold Ribbon with Medal
Future Educators Association      Baby Blue Cord
Honor Graduate      Gold Cord
Honor Thespian           Royal Blue & Gold Cord with Medallion
International Studies      Forest Green Cord
International Thespian Society           Royal Blue & Gold Ribbon with      Bronze Medallion
Junior Civitan           Blue & Yellow Cord
National Honor Society           Blue & Gold Tassel
Principal's Cabinet Leadership Medal
Quill and Scroll           Blue & Gold Cord
Science National Honor Society                Gold, Green & Purple Cord
Mu Alpha Theta           Sky Blue & Gold Cord
National Forensics League           Silver & Red Cord

Feeder patterns

Elementary schools that feed into Little Rock Central include:

Middle schools include Cloverdale Magnet Middle School, Dunbar Magnet Middle School, Forest Heights Middle School, Henderson Health Sciences Magnet Middle School, and Pulaski Heights Middle School.

Magnet-only schools that matriculate many students to Central include Mann Arts and Science Magnet Middle School.

Notable alumni

The following are notable people associated with Little Rock High School / Little Rock Central High School. If the person was a Central High School student, the number in parentheses indicates the year of graduation; if the person was a faculty or staff member, that person's title and years of association are included

Academia and political

Arts and entertainment

Commerce and industry


Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site

On November 6, 1998, Congress established Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site. The National Historic Site is administered in partnership with the National Park Service, Little Rock Public Schools, the City of Little Rock, and others.[46]

The Visitor Center for the site is located diagonally across the street from the school and across from the memorial dedicated by Michael Warrick, and opened in fall 2006. It contains a captioned interpretive film on the Little Rock integration crisis, as well as multimedia exhibits on both that and the larger context of desegregation during the 20th century and the Civil Rights Movement.

Opposite the Visitor Center to the west is the Central High Commemorative Garden, which features nine trees and benches that honor the students. Arches that represent the school's facade contain embedded photographs of the school in years since the crisis, and showcase students of various backgrounds in activities together.

Opposite the Visitor Center to the south is a historic Mobil gas station, which has been preserved in its appearance at the time of the crisis. At the time, it served as the area for the press and radio and television reporters. It later served as a temporary Visitor Center before the new one was built.


  1. ^ "Search for Public School Districts - District Detail for Little Rock School District". National Center for Education Statistics. Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Search for Public Schools - School Detail for Central High School". National Center for Education Statistics. Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved 2012. 
  3. ^ "Best High Schools 2012". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "The High School Challenge, Central High School". Washington Post. Retrieved 2013. 
  5. ^ National Park Service (2008-04-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  6. ^ "National Historic Landmarks Program". 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j National Park Service (May 19, 2008). "Desegregation of Central High School". The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture. Retrieved 2008. 
  8. ^ a b "Little Rock Central High School". Retrieved 2008. 
  9. ^ "LRSD District Status Report for 2006-2007". Little Rock School District. Archived from the original on May 29, 2008. Retrieved 2008. 
  10. ^ "Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved 2013. 
  11. ^ Patillo Beals, Melba (July 2007). Warriors Don't Cry. Simon & Schuster. p. 113. ISBN 978-1-4169-4882-7. 
  12. ^ "Military Power in Law Enforcement: The Posse Comitatus". Law and Legal Research. November 9, 2005. Retrieved 2011. 
  13. ^ Malcolm Brown (June 23, 2010). "1958". Sydney Morning Herald. News Store. p. 26. Retrieved 2011. 
  14. ^ James Sheire and The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program. "National Register of Historic Places Inventory - Nomination Form" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved 2008. 
  15. ^ "Encyclopedia of Arkansas - Epperson v. Arkansas". Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Retrieved 2009. 
  16. ^ "Little Rock Central High School". National Park Service. 2015. Retrieved 2017. 
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h "Central International Studies High School". Little Rock School District. Archived from the original on May 3, 2008. Retrieved 2008. 
  18. ^ "The PIX - Little Rock Central High School's award-winning yearbook". The Pix. Retrieved 2013. 
  19. ^ "Institution Summary, Little Rock Central High School". AdvancED. Retrieved 2012. 
  20. ^ "Arkansas Earns National Speech and Drama Recognition" (PDF). October 27, 2011. Retrieved 2012. 
  21. ^ " 2010 Arkansas State Choral Festival Best in Class Recipients". Arkansas Choral Directors Association. Retrieved 2013. 
  22. ^ " 2010 Arkansas State Choral Festival Best in Class Recipients". Arkansas Choral Directors Association. Retrieved 2013. 
  23. ^ " 2010 Arkansas State Choral Festival Best in Class Recipients". Arkansas Choral Directors Association. Retrieved 2013. 
  24. ^ " 2012 Arkansas State Choral Festival Best in Class Recipients". Arkansas Choral Directors Association. Retrieved 2013. 
  25. ^ " 2013 Arkansas State Choral Festival Best in Class Recipients". Arkansas Choral Directors Association. Retrieved 2013. 
  26. ^ "The Top of the Class 2010: The complete list of the 1,600 top U.S. high schools". Newsweek. June 13, 2010. 
  27. ^ "Central High Team Takes Top Honors in National "Fed Challenge"". Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. May 22, 2007. Archived from the original on July 15, 2007. Retrieved 2007. 
  28. ^ "Little Rock wins Fed Challenge". Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. May 20, 2008. Retrieved 2008. 
  29. ^ "Little Rock Central wins 7A Quiz Bowl Title". Arkansas Educational Television Network. April 29, 2008. Archived from the original on May 16, 2008. Retrieved 2008. 
  30. ^ "Little Rock's Central High Band To Perform At Obama's Inauguration". UALR Public Radio. Retrieved 2013. 
  31. ^ Arkansas Times Staff; Brantley, Max (October 19, 2006). "The Observer". Arkansas Times. Retrieved 2013. 
  32. ^ "School Profile, Central High School - LR". Arkansas Activities Association. Retrieved 2013. 
  33. ^ "2012-13 Arkansas High School Record Book" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on May 31, 2013. Retrieved 2012. 
  34. ^ "Arkansas Earns National Speech and Drama Recognition" (PDF). National Forensics League. October 27, 2011. Retrieved 2013. 
  35. ^ "Graduation Honors" (PDF). Little Rock Central High School. Retrieved 2013. 
  36. ^ Harris, Jim. "Ave Hogs: Comedian Matt Besser coming to Vino's". Arkansas Times. Retrieved 2013. 
  37. ^ "Rodger Bumpass' Doodle". National Doodle Day. Retrieved 2012. 
  38. ^ "Program Notes" (PDF). Austin Symphonic Band. December 6, 2009. Retrieved 2012. 
  39. ^ "Mike Beard". Retrieved 2013. 
  40. ^ a b c "Inductees". Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on April 17, 2016. Retrieved 2012. 
  41. ^ a b c "Little Rock Central Alumni". Retrieved 2012. 
  42. ^ "Profile, Houston Nutt". University of Mississippi. Retrieved 2012. 
  43. ^ "May 22, 2010. Brooks Robinson". Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2012. 
  44. ^ "Drew Smyly". Arkansas Razorbacks. Retrieved 2013. 
  45. ^ "Obituaries 2006-02-15". The Arkansas Leader. February 15, 2006. Retrieved 2008. 
  46. ^ National Geographic September 2000 (Vol 198 No 3) Hallowed Site, Working School Geographica Section-sub-section U.S. History

External links

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