Paul Laurence Dunbar High School (Baltimore, Maryland)

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Paul Laurence Dunbar High School
for Health Professionals
Paul Laurence Dunbar High School exterior.jpg
1400 Orleans Street
Baltimore, Maryland, 21231
Coordinates 39°17′42″N 76°35′56″W / 39.29512°N 76.59876°W / 39.29512; -76.59876Coordinates: 39°17′42″N 76°35′56″W / 39.29512°N 76.59876°W / 39.29512; -76.59876
School type Public, Magnet
Motto "Dedication, Determination, Dependability"
Founded 1918
School district Baltimore City Public Schools
Superintendent Dr. Gregory Thornton [CEO]
School number 414
Principal Tammy Mays
Grades 912
Enrollment 907[1] (2014)
Area Urban
Color(s) Maroon and Gold
Mascot Owl
Team name The Poets (for boys)
Lady Poets (for girls)

Paul Laurence Dunbar High School for Health Professionals (officially referred to as Paul Laurence Dunbar High School) is a public high school located at 1400 Orleans Street by Central Avenue in Old East Baltimore, Maryland.


Dunbar High opened in around the corner from the present structure in 1918 as the Paul Laurence Dunbar Elementary School, No. 101, as part of the separate "colored schools" system then in place in the Baltimore City Public Schools system which was abolished by 1954. It was named in memory of Paul Laurence Dunbar, a famous African-American poet, who had died ten years earlier. In 1925, a new form of secondary school then becoming popular evolved from the primary grades and was called Dunbar Junior High School, No. 133. Established 1937, by 1940 Dunbar was a full-fledged public high school on the same status as its earlier predecessor from 1883, the "Colored High School" (also renamed around that time as Frederick Douglass High School in old West Baltimore in a newly constructed building in 1925 at Carey and Baker Streets (Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood) and awarded its first diploma, the second "African American" school in Baltimore to do so.[2]


Dunbar High School of Baltimore is a magnet school like the City's earlier historic elite college preparatory The Baltimore City College (humanities/social studies/liberal arts/the classics emphasis) and the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute (mathematics/science/technology/engineering focus). Dunbar's programs include biotechnology, Emergency Medical Technology (EMT), Accounting, Nursing and Health Care Delivery Systems. It is the one of the oldest African-American public high schools in the country - similar to Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C. (which is the oldest African-American public high school in America) and another of the same name in Fort Worth, Texas, and its local predecessor Frederick Douglass High School, as all four schools have a majority African American student body and are of a major importance to the local African American community in their cities. All four schools are also highly regarded for their athletic programs within their respective school systems in the sports of football, basketball, and track. Prior to the Supreme Court decision in 1954 ("Brown v. Board of Education"), African American teenagers in Baltimore were allowed to attend only Dunbar and Douglass High Schools, which were also open to students from the surrounding predominately white Baltimore County, which did not open any "Negro" secondary schools for decades. The school has been named a Bronze Medal School by the U.S. News and World Report.[3]


Dunbar's temporary home during renovations

After thirty years of heavy usage, in the summer of 2007, the main high school building was emptied so that renovations to the school could be effected. Students were moved to Thomas G. Hayes Elementary School, behind Dunbar at 601 North Central Avenue. They were completed in late August 2009 at a cost of $32 million. Newly renovated features include science and robotics labs and wider interior hallways, larger windows, a new cafeteria and library.[4]


Dunbar's current athletic program consists of five men's varsity teams, five women's varsity teams, and five coeducational teams. The men's sports played at Dunbar are baseball, basketball, football, soccer, and wrestling. The women's teams are badminton, basketball, soccer, softball, volleyball. The four co-ed teams are cross country running, indoor track and field, swimming, outdoor track and field.


Since the Baltimore City Public Schools system left in 1993, its long-time home since 1909 (Dunbar and Douglass joined upon its integration in 1956) in the old local public/private schools circuit Maryland Scholastic Association (MSA) and joined the larger statewide Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA), Dunbar has continued its decades-long excellence traditions and dominated the class 1A division. The "Poets" won state championships in 1994, 1995, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008 (setting a state record with 58 points in the title game), 2010,2011 and 2012; played in the state finals in 1997, the semi-finals in 1993, 1996, 2003, 2005 and the quarter-finals in 1999 and 2002.[5]


The Dunbar basketball "Poets" have enjoyed an even greater success in the expanded state athletic league. Since 1993 the "Poets" have won the State Championship 15 times. Additionally, the Poets were National Champions in 1983 and 1992; and made it to the final game in 1997, 2002 and 2007.[6] The "Lady Poets" have excelled as well, winning the state girl's basketball title in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2011 and 2012.

Community partnerships[edit]

Dunbar is home of the Incentive Mentoring Program, an organization formed by Johns Hopkins School of Medicine graduate students to prevent teenagers from failing high school.[7] Struggling students selected by the principal can receive 1-on-1 tutoring from IMP mentors, as well as comprehensive social support to address any personal challenges that may be affecting their school performance.[8] Other mentoring programs include:

Notable alumni[edit]

Politics and government[edit]

Chief Judge Bell







  • Proposition Joe Stewart - East Baltimore drug kingpin on the cable TV network HBO drama "The Wire"
  • Ervin Burrell - Portrayed former city police commissioner on the HBO cable TV drama "The Wire". Burrell was a member of the glee club while at Dunbar High.
  • Rasheed Hill - Summer Ball by Mike Lupica


  1. ^ "Enrollment for All Grades All Students : Demographics : Baltimore City - Paul Laurence Dunbar High : 2014 Maryland Report Card:". Maryland State Department of Education. Retrieved July 27, 2014. 
  2. ^ Gladden, Elzee; Gladden, Jessie B. (1988). "The Dunbar Chronicle: A Case Study". The Journal of Negro Education 57 (3): 372–393. doi:10.2307/2295431. JSTOR 2295431. 
  3. ^ "U.S. News and World Report - Dunbar High School in Baltimore, Maryland". U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved October 9, 2012. 
  4. ^ Bowie, Liz (2009-09-01). "Dunbar opens with complete new look". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2009-09-03. 
  5. ^ "MPSSA Football Championships Tournament History" (PDF). Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association. Retrieved 2007-10-20. 
  6. ^ "MPSSA Boys Basketball Championships Tournament History" (PDF). Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association. Retrieved 2007-10-20. 
  7. ^ "Incentive Mentoring Program". Incentive Mentoring Program, Inc. Retrieved 2009-11-06. 
  8. ^ "Partnership Spotlight: Dunbar Mentoring Project" (PDF). Schools Monthly: 21. 1 January 2008. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Muggsy Bogues". Basketball-Reference.Com. Retrieved November 15, 2012. 

External links[edit]