Austin High School (Minnesota)

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Austin High School
301 3rd St NW

Coordinates43°40′06″N 92°58′45″W / 43.6683°N 92.9791°W / 43.6683; -92.9791Coordinates: 43°40′06″N 92°58′45″W / 43.6683°N 92.9791°W / 43.6683; -92.9791
School typePublic High School
School district492
SuperintendentDavid Krenz
PrincipalAndrea Malo
Number of students1,367 (2016-17)[1]
Hours in school day7
Color(s)Scarlet and White         
SongAustin High Gives Hail to Thee
Fight songAHS Fight Song; Scarlet and White
Athletics conferenceBig 9 Conference
RivalAlbert Lea High School
NewspaperThe Sentinel
Feeder schoolsEllis Middle School

Austin High School (originally called Franklin School when constructed in 1869) is a public high school in Austin, Minnesota.[2] It is part of Austin Public Schools, established in 1857. The home of the Packers, the school has over 1,250 students; AHS prides itself on having strong academics, athletics, and fine arts. The school colors are Scarlet and White, and the sports team is the Packers. AHS is a member of the Big 9 Conference.

Austin High School. Shown here is the 1919 building and the main entrance to the 1939 addition, which continues to the left.

School layout[edit]

Austin High School was primarily constructed in two phases. The older section, c. 1919, has Christgau Hall in the center, while the "new" building, c. 1939, is built around Knowlton Auditorium and Ove Berven Gym. The back of the auditorium stage is directly connected with the north end of the gym and they are divided by a (formerly movable) wall, with the cafeteria in the basement below. Classrooms are on the outside of each ring, with the overall effect being the shape of a figure-eight. Stairwells are at each outer corner, midway along the "new" building, and at either end of the hall where the "new" and "old" buildings meet. There is also an interior pair of stairwells that access the commons (main lobby), mid-floor classrooms and offices, and Knowlton Auditorium's balcony. A feature of the main building is a commons area that includes vending machines and social area with student artwork on display, the cashier's office, counseling office, and Health Services (nurse) office.

The Annex is a separate building situated west of the main building, across 4th Street NW. Built in the 1950s, it originally housed the vocational programs and Austin State Jr. College. The college moved to its current location in 1966. Classes in the Annex include Auto Shop, Carpentry, Tech Explorations, Graphics, Welding, Woodworking, Choir, Band, and Orchestra. A tunnel connects the main building to the Annex, allowing students to pass between buildings without crossing 4th Street.

The school has three floors, each represented by a different color: first floor is red, second is green, and the third floor is blue. Most freshman classes are on the third floor, while the rest of the classes are organized by each education department (Language Arts, Social Studies, Mathematics and Science). The basement contains the cafeteria, a tunnel system for pedestrian traffic which was remodeled[when?] into storage, and a section that originally contained a four-lane pool. After the swimming teams moved to a new facility at Ellis Middle School in the early 1970s, the pool was only used for Phy Ed classes. The pool was closed and the section was remodeled into classroom and storage space after the Ellis fire of 1986.


The school is served with three gyms: Packer Gym, Hastings Gym, and Ove Berven Gym. Packer and Hastings Gyms are adjacent to each other in the 1991 addition built at the south end of the "new" building, with a door that connects the two gyms. Their locker rooms are along the hall running beside the two gyms. Ove Berven locker rooms are two levels each and located in the southwest and northeast corners adjacent to the gym, with each having a level on the ground floor and in the basement. In the Annex, there is also a locker room, a weight training room and a gym used in the past for wrestling practice.

There are three auditoriums on campus: Knowlton Auditorium (capacity 1,850) is the largest, located on the first floor and having access to the balcony using the central stairwells and second and third floor entries. Christgau Hall (capacity 400) is located on the second floor of the original building with access to the balcony on the third floor. The Annex Auditorium is located in the tunnel leading to the Annex, and is better described[according to whom?] as a lecture hall seating about 100.

A second annex building, on the west side of Fourth Street NW between the main annex and Pacelli High School, is the maintenance shop and physical plant for the school and contains no student activities.


Exterior architectural detail of the school's 1911 section

Homecoming is an important event at Austin High School. An entire school week is dedicated to this event. Monday is Pajama Day and students are allowed to wear their sleep apparel. Tuesday is Twin Day, when students either wear Minnesota Twins baseball apparel, or dress identical to another student. Wednesday is Dress Up Day and Coronation, an hour assembly in Knowlton Auditorium where the Homecoming king and queen nominees are recognized. The Homecoming king and queen of the previous year then announce the new royalty by placing a crown on the head of whomever wins. Thursday is "Battle of the Connects", where each class wears a different color (Freshmen are orange, Sophomores green, Juniors blue, and Seniors black) and every Connect participates for points in a number of events including waterballoon volleyball, egg walk, pinguard, and many more. The students then walk 8 blocks west of AHS to Wescott Field, where the Austin Packers football and soccer games are held. There they watch the Powderpuff football game, the girls' football team. Thursday night there is a bonfire at Marcussen Park, lasting from 8:00 - 10:00 PM. Friday is Red and White Day, when students wear red and white or Austin Packers apparel. There is a pep fest in Ove Berven gym. The winner of the Battle of the Connects is announced, first the class with the highest number of points, then the Connect in each grade with the highest number of points. Friday night is the Homecoming game held at Wescott Field at 7:00 PM. On Saturday night, there is a Homecoming dance held in Hastings gym, lasting from 8:00-11:30 pm.

Sports available[edit]

Packer Dome, a seasonal athletic facility located at Haas Stadium/Wescott Field and managed by Austin Public Schools.
  • Dance Team (Girls)
  • Cheer Team (Girls)
  • Gymnastics (Girls)
  • Softball (Girls)
  • Basketball (Boys/Girls)
  • Soccer (Boys/Girls)
  • Tennis (Boys/Girls)
  • Golf (Boys/Girls)
  • Wrestling (Boys/Girls)
  • Hockey (Boys/Girls)
  • Bowling (Boys/Girls)
  • Cross Country (Boys/Girls)
  • Track and Field (Boys/Girls)
  • Swimming/Diving (Boys/Girls)
  • Football (Boys)
  • Baseball (Boys)
  • Clay Target Shooting (Co-ed)

Other information[edit]

Austin is a member of the Big Nine athletic conference, with Albert Lea as its main conference rival. Austin High School is in the hometown of Hormel Foods Headquarters. The population was 24,718 at the 2010 census. "Spam Town USA," as Austin is sometimes called, is also home to the Spam Museum. American Football coach and broadcaster John Madden and 2-time U.S. Open golf champion Lee Janzen were born in Austin.

Notable alumni[edit]

  • Grant Blackwood - Novelist
  • Burdette Haldorson - Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist in Men's Basketball
  • Luke Green - Edited his high school's Wikipedia page that one time.
  • John Maus - Avant-Garde synthpop musician
  • Bob Motzko - St. Cloud State University Head Men's Ice Hockey Coach
  • Michael Wuertz - Major League Baseball Pitcher previously with the Chicago Cubs and currently with the Oakland A's
  • Rick Zombo - Retired Defenseman for 12 seasons in the National Hockey League

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "AUSTIN SENIOR HIGH". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved February 16, 2019.
  2. ^ Curtiss-Wedge, Franklyn (1911). The History of Mower County, Minnesota (Illustrated). H. C. Cooper, Jr. & Company. p. 275.