Central High School (Tulsa, Oklahoma)
|Central High School|
|3101 West Edison Street
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74127
|Type||Public fine arts and performing arts magnet school|
|Principal||Mrs. Jacqueline Tolbert|
|Number of students||701 (as of October 1, 2007)
745 (per 2009-2010 OSSAA classification)
|Color(s)||Crimson and cream|
Central High School is the oldest high school in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was founded in 1906 as Tulsa High School, and located in downtown Tulsa until 1976. The school now has a 47-acre (19.0 ha) campus in northwest Tulsa. Tulsa Central is part of the Tulsa Public Schools, Oklahoma's largest school district, and is a public school for students from grades 9 through 12. Since 1997 it has served as a fine and performing arts magnet school.
The original Tulsa High School was erected in 1906 at Fourth and Boston in downtown Tulsa. In 1913 it became the third school in the state to win accreditation. A new building opened in 1917 at the corner of Sixth and Cincinnati, and was enlarged in 1922. The Manual Arts building at Ninth and Cincinnati was added in 1925. Tulsa Central was at one time said to be the second largest high school in the country, and included indoor Olympic-size and lap pools, an indoor track, an extensive art collection, and a large pipe organ.
Central was Tulsa's only public high school for white students, and by 1938 it had grown to its peak enrollment of more than 5,000 students in grades 10-12. Finally, Tulsa opened two new high schools: Webster High School in West Tulsa (in 1938), and Will Rogers High School east of downtown (in 1939). Booker T. Washington High School was established for African American students in 1913. Tulsa's schools were legally racially segregated by race until 1955, and remained segregated de facto at least into the 1970s, due to population patterns and school policies.
The construction of Tulsa's Inner Dispersal Loop freeway impaired the school's access to the outdoor physical education facilities at Central Park and Tracy Park. The cost of downtown parking was also a problem. These factors led to the decision to move the school out of downtown. The new 47-acre (190,000 m2) campus was opened in 1976, at 31st West Avenue and Edison Street, in the portion of northwest Tulsa that is located in Osage County.
The old Central High School building at Sixth and Cincinnati was acquired by Public Service Company of Oklahoma ("PSO"). After a complete renovation and extensive interior modifications, it now serves as PSO's headquarters. The renovated and adapted building has been named a Tulsa landmark by the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture. The former Manual Arts Building at Ninth and Cincinnati is now part of the downtown campus of Tulsa Community College.
Adah Robinson, an art teacher at Tulsa Central for several years in the late 1910s, is credited with the design of the Boston Avenue Methodist Church, an outstanding example of religious Art Deco architecture that is now designated as a National Historic Landmark. Robinson's collaborator in the design was Bruce Goff, her former student at Tulsa Central, and an architectural prodigy who designed 61 Tulsa buildings between 1927 and 1931. The precise extent of Goff's and Robinson's respective contributions to the church remains controversial.
Goff and Robinson also collaborated on the design of Robinson's own house, built 1927-1929, and now listed as an Art Deco landmark in Tulsa's Tracy Park Historic District. The house was finished by another Robinson student, Joseph Koberling, who also became an important Tulsa architect and later worked on another city landmark, Will Rogers High School.
In 1928, Robinson established and headed the art department at the University of Tulsa. She redesigned the interiors of several other notable Tulsa churches. She received an honorary doctorate from the University of Tulsa in 1936. From 1945 to 1959 she chaired the art department at Trinity University (Texas), in San Antonio, Texas. She died in Tulsa in 1962.
Isabelle Ronan, who taught at Tulsa Central from 1922 to 1955, became a well-known mentor for students interested in performing arts and broadcasting. In the words of a 1997 Tulsa World article,
The Central High School of that era was known for its superior theater and drama department, a different discipline from "speech" connected with debate or oratory. The reason: A gifted and inspired teacher named Isabelle Ronan, who had a knack for recognizing students with theatrical talent and desire to perform. She was the MISS Ronan to students, other teachers and administrative staff as well.
Teacher of Paul Harvey
One of Ronan's most famous students was radio legend Paul Harvey, then named Paul Harvey Aurandt. Harvey credited Ronan with getting his career started at the age of 14. Harvey said that Ronan was "impressed by his voice".
She took me by the hand and marched me down to KVOO, and said this young man ought to be on the radio. She just wouldn’t accept no. So I did my school chores in the daytime and hung around the radio station so many hours at night that they finally put me on the payroll to limit those hours.
Other notable Ronan students
In addition to Paul Harvey, other Ronan students at Tulsa Central who went on to professional success in broadcasting or the performing arts included:
- Tony Randall (Arthur Leonard Rosenberg), stage, film, and television actor.
- Mary Stuart (Mary Stuart Houchins), actress who starred for 35 years as the character Joanne Gardner on the television soap opera Search for Tomorrow.
- Danny Dark (Daniel Croskery), voiceover artist who was especially well known for his work in famous commercials, including as the announcer who said "Sorry, Charlie" in the Charlie the Tuna commercials for StarKist Tuna.
- Frank Morrow, broadcaster, co-producer of the long-running and nationally distributed public-access television cable TV program Alternative Views.
- Jack Eddleman, stage actor and director.
- Jim Ruddle, NBC News correspondent and longtime radio/TV news anchor in Chicago.
Eddie Sutton began his head coaching career at Tulsa Central, where he coached 1959-1966 before going on to become one of only seven major men's college basketball coaches to have over 800 career wins.
Art Griffith was the wrestling coach at Tulsa Central for 15 years, winning ten state and two national wrestling tournaments. He moved on to Oklahoma State University in 1941, where he led the Cowboys to 8 national championships and was elected to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. Griffith's successor at Tulsa Central was Rex Peery, who later became the Pittsburgh Panthers wrestling coach, and was also elected to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
In addition to the Adah Robinson and Isabelle Ronan students mentioned above, other notable persons who attended Tulsa Central include:
- William French Anderson, gene therapy pioneer
- Ralph Blane, composer and lyricist
- Daniel J. Boorstin, 12th Librarian of Congress 1975–1987
- Jim R. Caldwell, Class of 1954, former member of the Arkansas State Senate; retired in Tulsa
- J. J. Cale, singer-songwriter, pioneer of The Tulsa Sound
- Rocky Frisco, rock music pianist
- Jim Hartz, television broadcaster, co-host of the Today Show
- Ben Graf Henneke, president of the University of Tulsa, 1958–1967
- Jim Inhofe, U.S. Senator from Oklahoma
- George Kaiser, chairman of BOK Financial Corporation, philanthropist, ranked as one of the richest people in the world
- Leroy McGuirk, longtime professional wrestling promoter
- Shelby Metcalf, head basketball coach at Texas A&M 1963–1990
- James Robinson Risner, Korean War Flying ace, Vietnam War POW, double recipient of the Air Force Cross
- Albert E. Schwab, World War II Medal of Honor winner
- John Starks (basketball), NBA basketball player
- Patrick Suppes, philosopher of science
- Billy Tubbs, college basketball coach
- R. James Woolsey, Jr., Director of Central Intelligence, 1993–1995
- Profile for Central High School Fine & Performing Arts Magnet School at Tulsa Public Schools website
- 2009-10 OSSAA A.D.M. for Classification Purposes at Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association website (retrieved February 16, 2010).
- Kris Dudley, "Fame: Central High School Takes on Role as Magnet Site for the Arts", Tulsa World, August 20, 1997.
- Joyce Saunders, "Central High School" at Tulsa Central High School Foundation (retrieved March 24, 2009).
- Kirby Lee Davis, "These Walls: Tulsa's Central High School", Oklahoma City Journal-Record, April 11, 2008 (retrieved March 24, 2009).
- Danna Sue Walker, "Piping up", Tulsa World, February 14, 2003.
- Barbara Hoberock, "Grads Recall Central's Fast Times", Tulsa World, May 27, 1990.
- "School Desegregation in Tulsa, Oklahoma" (abstract), U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 1977.
- "About Us" at Public Service Company of Oklahoma ("PSO") website (retrieved March 24, 2009). (Note that the current PSO Building—the former Central High School building at Sixth and Cincinnati—is not the same building as the older Public Service Company building at Sixth and Main, which is now listed on the Register of Historic Places for Tulsa County.)
- Danna Sue Walker, "Tulsa Foundation for Architecture honors local people and places", Tulsa World, November 9, 2007.
- "Boston Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church, South". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-01-18.
- Art Deco Buildings in Tulsa: Boston Avenue Methodist Church at Tulsa Preservation Commission website.
- Wayne Curtis, "Tulsa's Deco Gems: How an Oklahoma city fell in love with art deco and never really got over it", Preservation, July/August 2008.
- Gene Curtis, "Dispute rages over church's designer", Tulsa World, December 25, 2006.
- Art Deco Buildings in Tulsa: Adah Robinson Residence at Tulsa Preservation Commission website.
- Art Deco Buildings in Tulsa: Will Rogers High School at Tulsa Preservation Commission website.
- Dianna Everett, "Robinson, Adah Matilda (1882-1962)" at Oklahoma Historical Society Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture.
- Lou Ann Ruark, "Story Teller: Tulsa Woman's Readings, Now Stilled, Linger in Memories", Tulsa World, November 2, 1997.
- Rick Kogan, "Good days for Paul Harvey", Chicago Tribune, August 4, 2002.
- Joe Howard, "Paul Harvey: A Legend Looks Back", Radio Ink, November 2, 2006.
- Marc Fisher, "A Lifetime on the Radio", American Journalism Review, October 1998.
- "Return to Hometown Lets Harvey Lay Ghosts to Rest", transcript of "Tulsa Travelog" from Paul Harvey's radio program as reprinted in Tulsa World, March 20, 1994.
- Thomas Conner, "Randall's dreams of acting started in Tulsa", Tulsa World, May 19, 2004.
- "Soap star and former Tulsan Mary Stuart dies", Tulsa World, March 2, 2002.
- "Mary Stuart, 76, a Star In 2 Soap Operas, Is Dead", New York Times, March 3, 2002.
- Phil Sweetland, "Danny Dark, voice of StarKist tuna and others; 65", San Diego Union-Tribune, July 3, 2004.
- "Central High alumni; Miss Isabelle Ronan, teacher", at Tulsa TV Memories.
- James D. Watts Jr., "Pitter Patter", Tulsa World, October 25, 2002.
- Chicago Television Timeline. (Retrieved November 5, 2011.)
- "Anchor's Aweigh: Former WMAQ Newscaster Gladly Watches His Life Go Adrift", Chicago Tribune, November 27, 1988.
- "Thursday a big day for Central", Tulsa World, September 23, 2001.
- "Art Griffith" biography at National Wrestling Hall of Fame website.
- Denny Diehl, "Peery Family," in Jairus K. Hammond, The History of Collegiate Wrestling (Stillwater, OK: National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum, 2006), ISBN 978-0-9765064-0-9, pp. 112-113 (excerpt available here).
- Rex Peery biography at National Wrestling Hall of Fame website.
- "Alumni Named to Central High Hall of Fame", Tulsa World, November 3, 1991.
- "Previous Librarians of Congress: Daniel J. Boorstin 1914-2004" at Library of Congress website.
- "JJ Cale" (obituary), The Sunday Telegraph, July 28, 2013.
- Jennifer Chancellor, "Now hear this: Tulsa Sound stalwart Rocky Frisco keeps the music coming", Tulsa World, December 28, 2007.
- Dustin O'Connor, "Hartz, James L." at Oklahoma Historical Society Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture (retrieved June 18, 2009).
- "Ben Henneke: A gentleman and a scholar", Tulsa World, November 17, 2009.
- Andrea Eger, "Central grads to be honored", Tulsa World, November 12, 2000.
- Ziva Branstetter, "George Kaiser makes mark on Tulsa", Tulsa World, October 16, 2011.
- "Leroy McGuirk" biography at Oklafan.com
- Yvonne Litchfield, "`Golden Memories' await Central High's class of '49", Tulsa World, April 18, 1999.
- Manny Gamallo, "Lingering Vietnam War touched many in state: Tulsan's 'celebrity' status led to torture as a captive of the North Vietnamese", Tulsa World, July 15, 2007.
- Gene Curtis, "Only in Oklahoma: Tulsa Marine saved others before he died", Tulsa World, March 23, 2007.
- Patrick Suppes, "Intellectual Autobiography (written in 1978)" at Stanford University website (accessed December 2, 2010).
- Central High School Homepage
- Tulsa Public Schools Homepage
- Tulsa Central High School Foundation (alumni website)