Osborn High School

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Laura F. Osborn High School[1] is an educational complex operated by Detroit Public Schools (DPS). It is located in Osborn on the northeast side of Detroit, Michigan. the school is named for Laura Freele Osborn (1866-1955), a highly regarded suffragist and campaigner for school reform. Mrs. Osborn was a member of the Detroit School Board; she was also the first woman elected to any office in Detroit. Osborn's reforms included: school lunchrooms supervised by trained dietitians, special programs for children with special talents, special instruction for handicapped children, visual education, health education, and classes in manual and domestic arts.[citation needed]

The school has eight programs, including Osborn Academy of Mathematics,[2] Osborn College Preparatory Academy,[3] Osborn Evergreen Academy of Design and Alternative Energy,[4] and the Osborn Upper School of Global Communications and Culture.[5]

Mildred Gaddis of WCHB said that Osborn "is considered the glue to the community."[6]


Laura F. Osborn High School was opened in February 1957. It was named after the first female presidemt of the Detroit Board of Education. When opened it had no auditorium, gym or pool, no facilities for vocational courses such as automotive. It took the Board of Education over 4 years to develop these, although the funds had been appropriated before January 1957. On the northwest side, Osborn's 'sister' school, Henry Ford had these facilities built by the end of 1959. Parents of Osborn students inquired and made visits to the Board offices and never received positive answers regarding the delay. The first student newspaper was called The Lance, the masthead designed by Gregg T. Trendowski(Class of June 1960). The teams were named the Knights, a name suggested by Gregg Trendowski (a member of the first student council and member of a special committee for name selections). Mr. Trendowski also designed the team logos and the yearbook (The Acolyte)logo in February 1957. In 2006 Kimberly Chou of The Michigan Daily said that the school was "often criticized for its lack of resources and tension among students."[7]

In 2010 Robert Bobb, the emergency financial manager of the school district, announced that Osborn was closing.[6] In July 2010 Osborn High School was closed; it reopened in August of that year. DPS officials planned to keep the facility open for two years.[8]

An April 2011 report from the office of Mayor of Detroit Dave Bing stated that gangs have caused problems at Osborn High.[9]

Jeff Siedel of Detroit Free Press said that in the northern hemisphere summer of 2011 "as a wave of violence swirled around" Osborn as several students died in violent incidents.[10] On August 24, 2011, the Osborn High star football player, Allantae Powell, was murdered in western Detroit.[10]

As of 2013, about 20 to 30 Hmong students attend Osborn High School. The Hmong population in the Osborn neighborhood had declined due to Hmong people moving to Warren and Sterling Heights.[11]

Location and facility[edit]

Osborn is located along a street that features beauty supply stores, cell phone stores, churches, and fast food restaurants. As of 2010 a restaurant called Happy’s Pizza is across the street from Osborn. The manager, Mac Swift, said that the bulk of his morning business came from students. That year, when the district announced Osborn would be closed, Swift said that the closure would harm his business.[6]

In 2012 the school had a makeover intended to beautify the building and increase morale at the school. New carpets and new paint were installed. The remodeling used bright colors as a way of increasing morale. During the remodeling, the elevator was not functional, so American football players volunteered to carry new cabinets and desks to the school's third floor. Tanya Bowman, the principal, said "In years past, this building looked literally like a prison."[10]

Student body[edit]

In December 1999 Osborn had 1,900 students. The original student population in February 1957 was appoximately 850. District boundaries had been redrawn in 1956, moving students from neighborhoods formerly serving Denby(on the east) and Pershing (west of Mound Road)to Osborn, relieving over-crowding in those high schools.

During 1999, 250 of the students were Hmong, and the boys' volleyball team was 95% Hmong. Stan Allen, who served as principal, said that in 1987, when he first began working at the school, the Hmong students performed academically well and often received grade point averages of 3.5 to 4.0. In the ten years until December 1999 Allen said that the academic performance of Osborn's Hmong students declined.[12]

As of 2006 students frequently drop out of the school. In the beginning of 2003, the 9th grade class had 700 students. By December 2006 that class had 200 students.[7]


The school's Hall of Fame includes student who had athletic success in regional and state competitions, including Kelsey Johnson, who won the long jump event at the 1973 Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) track and field finals,[13] and Jimalatrice Thomas who won the 400-meter dash title at the 1988 MHSAA championships.[14]


  1. ^ "Home." Osborn High School. April 17, 2001. Retrieved on November 5, 2012.
  2. ^ "Osborn Academy of Mathematics." Detroit Public Schools. Retrieved on August 10, 2010.
  3. ^ "Osborn College Preparatory Academy." Detroit Public Schools. Retrieved on August 10, 2010.
  4. ^ "Osborn Evergreen Academy of Design and Alternative Energy." Detroit Public Schools. Retrieved on August 10, 2010.
  5. ^ "Upper School of Global Communications and Culture." Detroit Public Schools. Retrieved on August 10, 2010.
  6. ^ a b c Gaddis, Mildred. "High school closure plan rocks Detroit neighborhood." WCBH. March 18, 2010. Retrieved on November 8, 2012.
  7. ^ a b Chou, Kimberly. "[1]." The Michigan Daily. December 7, 2006. Retrieved on March 13, 2012.
  8. ^ Anderson, Elisha. "Osborn High School to reopen; remain open for 2 more years." Detroit Free Press. August 10, 2010. Retrieved on August 10, 2010.
  9. ^ Hunter, George and Mike Wilkinson. "Detroit's deadliest neighborhood." The Detroit News. September 2, 2011. Retrieved on November 8, 2012. "Gangs have caused big problems at Osborn High School on Seven Mile and Hoover, according to an April report from Mayor Dave Bing's office."
  10. ^ a b c Siedel, Jeff. "Jeff Seidel: Detroit Osborn football team tries to learn lessons from star's murder." Detroit Free Press. August 24, 2012. Retrieved on November 8, 2012.
  11. ^ Lewis, Matthew (Model D). "Young and Hmong in a Detroit east side neighborhood." MLive. September 29, 2013. Retrieved on February 19, 2014.
  12. ^ Kaiser, Robert L. "After 25 Years In U.s., Hmong Still Feel Isolated." Chicago Tribune. December 27, 1999. 1. Retrieved on April 12, 2012.
  13. ^ http://www.mhsaa.com/Sports/BoysTrackField/IndividualChampions/1970s.aspx
  14. ^ http://www.mhsaa.com/Sports/GirlsTrackField/IndividualChampions/1980s.aspx

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°26′02″N 83°00′13″W / 42.434°N 83.0035°W / 42.434; -83.0035