Abraham Lincoln High School (Des Moines, Iowa)

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Lincoln High School
Lincoln High School Logo
2600 SW 9th Street
Des Moines, Iowa
Type Public Secondary
Established 1923
School district Des Moines Public Schools
Superintendent Thomas Ahart
Principal Paul Williamson
Grades 9–12
Enrollment 2,175[1]
Campus Urban
Color(s) Maroon and gold          
Athletics conference Central Iowa Metro League
Nickname Rail Splitters
Lincoln High School

Abraham Lincoln High School, usually referred to simply as Lincoln High School or Lincoln, is a secondary school located in Des Moines, Iowa, USA. It is the largest high school in the state. It is one of five secondary schools under the district of the Des Moines Public Schools, and was named after the 16th United States president Abraham Lincoln. The school sports team has been named after one of President Lincoln's nicknames, the "Rail Splitter" (the "Lincoln Railsplitters" or "Rails"). It is known as the Pride of the South Side.


Lincoln High School was constructed to address the increasing enrollment of students at nearby East High School. During this time, the south side of Des Moines was home to new urban development. This further increased enrollment and the need for an additional school. A bond issue was passed on March 18, 1918, that provided the funds to build the school.[2] By 1923, construction was completed, at a cost of $949,754.95 USD.[2]

At that time, the school had 55 classrooms, a swimming pool, two gymnasiums, several labs, an art and music room, cafeteria, and an auditorium, providing for a total student capacity of 1,300 people.[2]

In 1962 an additional wing was constructed, which added additional classrooms, additional laboratory areas, and a library with over 13,000 volumes.[2]

A male faculty lounge was added in 1963.[2] An existing light-well was enclosed to provide for this new room.

In 1964, further expansions were contracted at a total cost of $1,667,000.[2] This provided for the construction of the Roundhouse, home to the indoor sporting venues. On the lower level, a new swimming pool and boys' locker room was constructed. The old swimming pool was converted to classroom space, but the old gymnasiums are still in use. The old locker rooms were remodeled into the girls' locker rooms.

There are a number of prized possessions at the school. In the floor of the vestibule is the school monogram done in bronze, surrounded by a design in variegated marble. On the south wall is a portrait of “The Boy Lincoln” painted by Russell Cowles, a former student of West High School. On the north wall is “Lincoln the Statesman” painted by William Reaser. In the Main corridor is a bronze bust of Lincoln, the work of Laurence Stewart, former student of East High.

The cornerstone of the old Lincoln School, which used to be at Ninth and Mulberry Streets, has been set as a memorial on the Lincoln High lawn. It was presented to the school with appropriate ceremonies when the old school was demolished. This cornerstone is only one of the many reminders of President Lincoln that are preserved by the school. There is a steel engraving of the Lincoln family when Lincoln was in office, also one of the President himself, both presented to the school by Fred Foss. A piece of log from Lincoln’s cabin birthplace was presented by W. L. King, a former school teacher. An engraving of the national monument in the Soldiers’ National Cemetery, which was dedicated by President Lincoln with his famous Gettysburg Address, is also in the collection. In the auditorium above the stage are the words of that famous address done in gold.


Left: Smoke stack
Front: Roundhouse Gymnasium

Lincoln has three levels of classrooms, with the Commons and music classrooms located on the lowest level. The "old gymnasium" occupies the second and third levels in the main concourse (with the entrance on the second level). The Roundhouse is the primary gymnasium in use at Lincoln. The upper level an arena with a capacity of 2,500 people. On the lower level of the Roundhouse are the weight-training area, boys' locker rooms, and swimming pool. All Freshman classes are held at R.A.I.L.S academy (formally known as Kurtz Junior High building.)

On the opposite side of Bell Avenue are two student parking lots, tennis courts, a general practice field, and Hutchens Stadium (home to football and track events).

The Fine Arts[edit]

Drama The Drama Department has won awards especially in the area of IHSSA. The Drama Department presents two full-length performances each year. The new drama director is Karen Sissel and preceding her was Sarah Zdenek. For many years, the Lincoln drama department was lead with grace by Robin Vanderhoef, a woman who inspired many during her years at Lincoln High School.

Music Musical groups at Lincoln include Concert Band, Marching Band, Jazz Band I, Jazz Band II, Pep Band, Chamber and Concert Choir, Infinity Show Choir, Omega Show Choir, Freshmen Prep Choir, and Orchestra. Lincoln's Vocal Music director is Michael Walag, assisted by Joel Gettys. Joe Spiess assists with show choir choreography and Patrick Smith has recently joined the team as well. The directors of the LHS band are Kevin Steggman and Darin Bartachek.

An annual event is the Gladrigal or Gladrigal Dinner, held since 2005 to showcase the vocal music departments together with the school's arts and drama students. The term "Gladrigal" combines the traditional notions of a Madrigal Feast and the lyric "Put your glad rags on . . ." from Rock Around the Clock. The event consists of a simple meal, such as an Italian spaghetti and meatballs dinner, with salad and breadsticks, with the food donated by community businesses and the labor donated by the parents of students, punctuated by musical selections from the show choir, chamber choir, concert choirs, and the like, often backed up by the school's jazz band or show choir ensemble. Musical skits are sometimes also performed. The music performed is usually mixed choral music, with a heavy emphasis on music from the 1950s forward.

Journalism The official school newspaper is The Railsplitter. The Railsplitter received merit recognition from the National Scholastic Press Association, Columbia School of Journalism. This is the highest recognition given to a high school publication. There is also an Independent Newspaper called The Random Independent created by Freshman at Lincoln South.

Visual Arts Art classes include Painting/Drawing/Multi-Media, 3D design, and AP Studio Art. Each year the art department competes in exhibitions and art shows. The art club is called The Dorian Art Club.


Lincoln is a member of the Central Iowa Metropolitan League (C.I.M.L) which is a league consisting of 19 schools across central Iowa and is divided into 4 conferences. Lincoln competes in the C.I.M.L. Metro conference. The league includes 7 teams, The 5 Des Moines schools (East, Hoover, Lincoln, North, Roosevelt), Indianola, and Ottumwa.

Lincoln High School has 19 sports - ten for boys and nine for girls - there are ample opportunities for students to get involved, either as a participant or a team manager.

The Girls Basketball Team had one of the best basketball programs in the state in the early 2000s. During the 2001-2002 season they were ranked 7th in the nation under legendary coach Jerry Shartner. The program is now lead in the direction of head coach Scott Harrison.

Lincoln's baseball program also has a very storied history. The Rails have had many state titles, state appearances and conference championship titles. The Rails finished top 10 in the state in batting during the 2014 season. With a 20-19 record they finished third in the conference. [3]

During the 2006 season the Girls Swim team defeated the schools arch-rival Roosevelt for the first time in the school's history.

The Football program had the most success in school history under the direction of Head Football Coach Tom Mihalovich. Coach Mihalovich took over in 2001. Before his arrival the team had not experienced a winning record in 10 years and had the longest losing streak in the state at the 4A level. Within 4 years, the team had a winning record and in 2005 earned a playoff berth for only the second time in school history. Previously, the school's only playoff appearance was in 1976. The program's continued success included 4 conference championship titles, 6 play-off appearances and the first ever playoff victory in 2011. The 2011 team set conference and school records that included a 9 game winning streak, best overall record (9-2) and numerous conference and school statistical records. Coach Mihalovich is the winningest coach in school history with a mark of 57-51. In the last 8 years of Coach Mihalovich's tenure, his record was 52-29.

The 2014 softball team had a good season finishing with 20 wins. [4]

The sport Lincoln has had historically the most success in is boys basketball. Lincoln was a basketball powerhouse in the 1970s and 1980s led by legendary coach John Carle from 1971-1982. During his 11 seasons Lincoln made it to the sub-state final 8 times including 3 state qualifications and the 1975 state championship. During the championship run in the 1974-75 season the Rails finished 24-0. Coach Carle's career record at Lincoln was 181-54. Since the days of coach Carle Lincoln has had continued success in basketball with a handful of state qualifications. Most recently qualifying for state in 2007. Lincoln's basketball program is now led by Jay Bendixen.


As of the 2005-2006 school year, there were 2,126 students[5] enrolled at Lincoln, which makes the school the largest in Iowa following is West High School in Davenport. 76.9% of the student body is of White (European-American) descent[6] (down from 79.3% in the 2004-2005 school year[7]). The leading ethnic group by enrollment is that of Latino descent, and they are followed by Black (African-American), Asian, and Indian (Native American or Alaskan Native).[6] This makes the school the least diverse of the other high schools in the Des Moines Public School district.[6]

Enrollment figures[edit]

Year Total Seniors (12th grade) Juniors (11th grade) Sophomores (10th grade) Freshmen (9th grade)
2006-2007[1] 2,175 481 548 570 576
2005-2006[5] 2,126 396 446 572 712
2004-2005[8] 2,157 391 454 571 741
2003-2004[8] 2,179 411 462 580 726


There are approximately 107 instructors at Lincoln High, which puts the student-teacher ratio at about 20 students per course instructor. There are 76 additional personnel who carry out other administrative duties at Lincoln. In total, the faculty count is approximately 183.[9]

Extracurricular activities[edit]

Student extracurricular activities include:

  • Clubs (as of 2005-2006 school year, clubs in italics are defunct)
    • Drama Club
    • International Thespian Society Troupe #4752
    • National Honor Society
    • Rails Key Club
    • Anime Club
    • Business Professionals of America
    • Computer Club
    • Straight and Gay Alliance (SAGA)
    • Students Against Drunk Drivers (SADD)
    • DECA
    • Dorian Art Club
    • Gamer's Paradise
  • Activities
    • Student Council
    • Debate/Forensics
    • Mock Trial
    • Academic Decathlon
    • Academic Letter
    • Ambassadors
    • Band (Marching, Jazz, Concert, Pep)
    • Cheerleading
    • Close Up
    • Committee Select
    • Conflict Management
    • Fellowship of Christian Athletes
    • Mermaids Synchronized Swimming
    • Minority Achievement Program (MAP)
    • Quiz Bowl
    • Railettes Dance Team
    • Railmen
    • Science Bound
    • Sisters for Success
    • Upward Bound
    • We the People
  • Sports
    • JV Show Choir
    • Varsity Show Choir
    • Volleyball
    • Baseball
    • Basketball
    • Bowling
    • Cross Country
    • Football
    • Golf
    • Rugby
    • Softball
    • Swimming
    • Soccer
    • Tennis
    • Track
    • Wrestling


The school is on a system of "block" scheduling, which shortens the number of classes per day to four; however, each class is significantly longer than in years past. Each student is required to take eight classes with four on each day on an alternating schedule (referred to as "A" and "B" days). The school district requires students to take a number of core academic courses. This includes Social Studies, English, Mathematics, Science, Art, and Physical Education. The amount of academic credit needed to satisfy graduation requirements is determined by the school district. Many students also attend Central Academy and Central Campus in downtown Des Moines in order to acquire college credit and technical proficiency.

All students are required by the district to enroll in four subject courses and a Physical Education course. However, the school compels lower-class students to schedule a full day of classes, in order to ensure satisfaction with district graduation requirements. Juniors and seniors have the option of having an "open period" during the first or last period of the school day ("Seniors may have open periods during any period"). However, juniors require parental permission to have an open period.

The district requires four years of Physical Education. Freshmen and sophomores usually take their P.E. courses at the school. Juniors and seniors have the option of taking alternative P.E. programs, including a bowling class that requires students to commute to a nearby bowling alley. In compliance with state law, students with a full academic schedule can be made exempt from all P.E. requirements for that year or allowed to perform self-study P.E.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Des Moines Public Schools (2006). "Enrollment Report as of October 2, 2006" (PDF). 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "History of Lincoln High School". Retrieved August 31, 2005. [dead link]
  3. ^ quikstatsiowa.com
  4. ^ quikstatsiowa.com
  5. ^ a b Des Moines Public Schools (2005). "Enrollment Report as of September 16, 2005" (PDF). 
  6. ^ a b c Des Moines Public Schools (2005). "Minority Enrollment Report as of September 16, 2005" (PDF). 
  7. ^ Des Moines Public Schools (2004). "Minority Enrollment Report as of September 17, 2004" (PDF). 
  8. ^ a b Des Moines Public Schools (2004). "Enrollment Report as of September 17, 2004" (PDF). 
  9. ^ Des Moines Public Schools (2003). "Data report: Basic School-Level Staffing" (PDF). 


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°33′43″N 93°37′35″W / 41.561943°N 93.626396°W / 41.561943; -93.626396