Central High School (Traverse City, Michigan)

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Central High School
Traverse City Central crest.gif
1150 Milliken Drive
Traverse City, Michigan, 49686
United States
Coordinates 44°46′4″N 85°35′19″W / 44.76778°N 85.58861°W / 44.76778; -85.58861Coordinates: 44°46′4″N 85°35′19″W / 44.76778°N 85.58861°W / 44.76778; -85.58861
Type Public, Coeducational high school
Established 1884
School district Traverse City Area Public Schools
Principal Rick Vandermolen
Grades 9-12
Enrollment 1268 (2005)
Color(s) Black & Gold         
Athletics conference Big North
Team name Trojans
Accreditation North Central Association of Colleges and Schools [1]
Information (231) 933-3500

Traverse City Central High School is a public high school in Traverse City, Michigan, located at 1150 Milliken Drive. The principal is Rick Vandermolen.

It is one of three high schools in Traverse City, with over 1,500 students each year. Central is located in the Traverse City Area Public Schools school district, which is part of the larger Traverse Bay Area intermediate school district. Central offers classes for students in grades 9–12. Additionally, students are given the option to dual enroll and attend classes at Northwestern Michigan College. In addition to the dual enrollment program, a wide variety of honors and AP classes are offered. These include AP Biology, AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition, AP European History, AP World History, AP U.S. History, AP Chemistry, AP Psychology, and AP Statistics

Beginning in Fall 2011, Central will be implementing Small Learning Communities (SLCs), a plan that allows students to be part of a close-knit neighborhood.


The school was originally established as the sole high school in Traverse City, established in 1884. For over sixty years the high school was just south of downtown Traverse City between Seventh and Eighth Streets. The large brick building that housed both a senior and junior high school now operates as Central Grade School. The current site of the school broke ground in the late 1950s. In the 1990s the school underwent extensive renovations and additions. Only a few of the original structures remain. From the 1950s to the 1990s, the school was referred to as Traverse City Senior High School. In 1997, Traverse City Senior High was split by the school district into two distinct high schools. The newly constructed Traverse City West Senior High School was opened, while the original high school facility was renamed as Traverse City Central High School. The name of Traverse City Senior High School was discontinued at that time.

Since West Senior High School opened, there has been a westward shift of students; in the 2004–2005 school year, there was an enrollment gap of 178 students, though that number is increasing at a slower rate than in the past. West Senior High School has quickly become a major cross town sporting rival of Central High School.

The old school covering a block of 8th street across to 7th street at one time included all grades. In 1963 a new high school, Traverse City High School was built on Eastern Avenue for grades 10-12. The Traverse City Junior High on a hill west of town opened in the fall 1971 of for grades 7-9. It later became Traverse City West Junior High. During the mid-1990s Traverse City East Junior High was built. In 1997 Traverse City West High School was built due to overcrowding at Traverse City High School. Over 3500 students each year had attended the only high school in town until the school split.

Until the 2008-2009 school year, TCAPS elementary schools operated up to and including grade 6, with the two junior highs carrying grades 7-9 (though for a few years preceding, some 6th graders would also attend voluntarily due to their elementary schools from the year before having closed down) and the high schools took only 10-12 grades. After long planning, beginning in the 2008-2009 school year, all elementary schools now run up to grade 5, junior highs handle 6-8, and high schools carry 9-12 grades.

Arts & Music[edit]

Central has an active music program, with multiple choirs, bands, and orchestras. In addition to the larger groups, there are also numerous small ensembles, including a jazz band, three small vocal groups, and some student-led chamber ensembles. In 2003, the chorale performed at Carnegie Hall; in 2006, the Choral-Aires participated in Mozart's 250th birthday celebration, touring Vienna and Salzburg, and in 2012 the Vocal Majority participated in Distinguished Concerts International New York's concert "Eternal Light...Shining Bright".

The choir annually performs a show entitled "Rendezvous at the Jazz Club," which, in addition to featuring all school-sponsored vocal groups, also includes a large number of soloists and group acts. "Rendezvous" departs from traditional choral music to offer the audience a unique blend of rock, pop, country, jazz, and other styles.

The school puts on an annual musical which involves students from all fields. In the recent past, the musicals have been such classics as Guys and Dolls, Singin' in the Rain and Hello, Dolly!. In 2004, the musical Beauty and the Beast sold over 6,000 tickets, with two encore performances, due to overwhelming demand. The more modern show Disney's "High School Musical" was performed there in 2007 and held two encore performances and was standing room only selling well over 7,000 tickets. Central was the first High school in the area to do that particular show.

The Theater Arts classes put on five different shows for the public each year; in addition, the Thespian club puts on a performance and competes at drama festivals.


Central's most intense sports rival is neighbor school West Senior High; Central competes in figure skating, baseball, basketball, bowling, debate, cheerleading, cross country, cross-country skiing, dance, downhill skiing, equestrian, football, golf, gymnastics, ice hockey, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track and field, volleyball, and wrestling. In boys' skiing, Central has been particularly dominant, winning 17 Michigan High School Athletic Association state championships from their inception in 1975 through their last in 2008. Central has won three football state titles in 1978, 1985 and 1988.

Before the split into Central and West Senior High Schools in 1997, Traverse City High was the largest high school in the state and had more students in grades 10 through 12 than any other Michigan high school. It had over twice the enrollment of Cadillac High 40 miles away, and was eight to fifteen times larger than all other high schools within a forty mile radius; hence, it had no close-by rivals. At one point in the 1970s and 1980s, Traverse City's nearest conference opponent was in Muskegon, nearly 150 miles away. Since the split, Central competes against West, Petoskey, Cadillac, Alpena and Gaylord High Schools, the six largest high schools in Northern Michigan, as a member of the Big North Conference, while still scheduling many contests per season against powers in both southern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. While travel to and from Central games as of 2005 is not as long as it was in past decades, Central's teams, and their opponents, must log hundreds of miles more than most other Michigan schools each year.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ NCA-CASI. "NCA-Council on Accreditation and School Improvement". Retrieved 2010-02-17. [dead link]
  2. ^ "Tom Kozelko". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved August 31, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Dan Majerle". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved November 24, 2009. 

External links[edit]