Booker T. Washington High School (Tulsa, Oklahoma)

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Booker T. Washington High School
Booker T. Washington Pep Rally
1514 East Zion Street
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74106
United States
Coordinates 36°11′18″N 95°58′16″W / 36.188205°N 95.971009°W / 36.188205; -95.971009Coordinates: 36°11′18″N 95°58′16″W / 36.188205°N 95.971009°W / 36.188205; -95.971009
Established 1913 (1913)
Principal Dr. Melissa Woolridge
Grades 9-12
Number of students 1,337[1]
Color(s) Orange and Black          
Mascot Hornets

Booker T. Washington High School is a high school in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was named after the African-American education pioneer Booker T. Washington. It is one of nine high schools in the Tulsa Public Schools system.


Booker T. Washington is a public high school that accepts students based upon their academic merit, rather than their geographical location. The school uses applicants' middle school grades and attendance record, as well as their Iowa Tests of Educational Development scores, to determine admission. To ensure greater ethnic, economic, and intellectual diversity, students who live in historically minority and economically depressed neighborhoods are offered preferential consideration.


Oklahoma statehood brought about segregated schools for African-American children. The first such school in Tulsa was a two-room wooden building built in 1908 on Hartford Avenue, between Cameron and Easton Streets. It served grades 1 through 8 until 1913. In that year, Dunbar Grade School opened at 504 Easton Street in an 18-room brick building, with a four-room frame building that served as a high school.[2]

Booker T. Washington High School was founded in 1913, with a class of fourteen students and a staff of two teachers. The principal was E.W. Woods, a native of Louisville, Mississippi, who had just moved to Tulsa from Memphis, Tennessee. According to legend, Woods walked all the way from Tennessee to Oklahoma when he learned the new school was advertising for a principal. The original school building was at the corner of Elgin Avenue and Easton Street, in the Greenwood district of Tulsa.[3]

By 1920, the four-room high school had been replaced by a three-story brick building. This continued to operate for nearly three decades.[2]

Tulsa race riot[edit]

The high school escaped destruction during the Tulsa race riot of 1921. Immediately after the riot, the American Red Cross used the building as its headquarters for relief activities. About 2,000 people were temporarily sheltered there. A hospital facility was set up, along with a dental clinic, a venereal disease clinic, and a medical dispensary. The Red Cross inoculated about 1,800 refugees against tetanus, typhoid and smallpox.[3]


The Tulsa Public Schools district was slow to react to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that de jure racial segregation was unconstitutional in the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed all racial segregation in the United States. During the 1971-72 school year a small number of progressive Caucasian students voluntarily transferred to Booker T. Washington in a special program called "Metro." The program was successful as a proof that voluntary desegregation would work at Booker T. Washington High. In 1973 Booker T. Washington was chosen to be the vehicle for Tulsa’s school desegregation program. At that time, Tulsa was racially divided along north-south lines, and the school was in historically African-American north Tulsa, making this the first integration program in a historically African-American school.

The Tulsa School Board established a system of desegregation busing. As part of this policy, Booker T. Washington became a magnet school; it no longer had a home neighborhood from which students were accepted. Students instead had to apply for admission and were drawn from across the district. A racial quota system was established and, until the 2004-2005 school year, 45% of the students accepted identified themselves as "white," 45% as "black," and 10% came from other ethnic categories. However, in 2003, the Supreme Court ruled in Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger that quota systems constituted racial discrimination and violated the Constitution. Booker T. Washington High School accepted the ruling and eliminated their quota system in favor of a system based on geography. Due to Tulsa's regional demographics, this system is calibrated to maintain a similar racial distribution to the old quota system.[4]

Present day[edit]

The fourth home of the Booker T. Washington High School opened at 1631 E. Woodrow Place in September 1950, graduating its first class in 1951. That building was replaced by a new one at the same location in 2003.[2]

Today, the Booker T. Washington Hornets boast a nationally known "High Steppin' T-Connection" marching band. it also has championship basketball, football, swimming, cross country, and soccer teams, an academic bowl team, a science bowl team, a robotics team, a forensics team, cheerleading and pom teams, an award-winning Air Force JROTC unit, and three nationally competitive choirs (Select Choir, Girls Honor Choir, BTW Jazz Singers).

Booker T. Washington was one of the first Tulsa public high schools to offer Advanced Placement courses and began offering the International Baccalaureate program in 1983.

The 2003-2004 school year marked the 90th anniversary of Booker T. Washington and the dedication of a new $25 million, 250,000-square-foot (23,000 m2) school building. This building was designed to encompass the rich heritage of the school and tried to incorporate many themes from the previous facility.[5] A portion of the original building has been preserved.

The 2013-2014 school year marked BTW's 100-year anniversary.

Booker T. Washington High School students are known to be very proud of the school that they attend. Shortly after Homecoming week, the school chooses a Miss and Mr. Hornet that will represent them and what the school stands for.

Academics and administration[edit]

Booker T. Washington is accredited by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) to grant the IB Diploma to students who complete the two-year programme. Booker T. also offers Advanced Placement courses, with the exception of AP Italian Language and Culture and AP United States Government and Politics. Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses are taught in English, math, social studies, science, computer health, foreign language, and the arts.

Booker T. Washington High School was part of a study by the Education Trust and the ACT. Published in 2005, On Course for Success focused on high performing, diversely populated schools that provide students with college-preparatory courses, qualified teachers, flexible teaching styles, and extra tutorial support. The study identified specific academic skills that should to be taught to high school students to prepare graduates for college. The study focused on English, math, and science courses, and claimed that Booker T. Washington was "doing things right."[6]

The school offers eight world languages: Spanish, French, German, Latin, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, and Russian. All are offered through level V. In 2005, 81% of the student body was enrolled in a world language, and 10% was enrolled in a level IV language class or higher. Booker T. Washington has active exchange programs with China, Japan, Russia, Germany, Mexico, Paraguay, Venezuela, India, and many European countries.

Five faculty members have doctorates and 31 have master's degrees. In Oklahoma, a bachelor's degree is the minimum required to teach at a public high school. 40% of teachers at Booker T. Washington have more than eleven years of experience. The student-to-teacher ratio is 19 to 1.

In 2010, Booker T. Washington placed 74th [7] in Newsweek magazine's list of the top 100 public high schools in the US. The magazine ranked high schools according to the ratio of Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate tests taken by all students to the number of graduating seniors.[8]

The school claims that its annual school-wide talent show, "Hi-Jinks," is the longest continuously running variety show west of the Mississippi. Every four years, faculty members also have a talent show, "Lo-Jinks." While the "Hi-Jinks" claim is unverifiable, the school holds the record for the longest run of appearances at the National Academic Championship with 22.

State championships[edit]

  • Academic Bowl 17: 1991, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011,[9] 2012,[10] 2013
  • Speech And Debate 10: 1978, 1979, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2012, 2013, 2015

National championships[edit]

  • Academic Bowl: 1992 and 2008 [11]
  • NFL Lincoln Douglas Debate: 1983
  • NFL Poetry Interpretation: 1998
  • NFL United States Extemporaneous Speaking: 2013, 2014


Booker T. Washington has a storied history in athletics and has captured 53 state championships.[12] Several former Booker T. athletes have gone on to the NFL and NBA, such as Wayman Tisdale and Robert Meachem. Booker T. plays home football games at S.E. Williams Stadium.

Booker T. Washington's 2008-2009 football team was ranked #60 in the top 100 in the nation. They were led by seniors Michael Doctor (LB), Justin Skillens (ATH), Tony Daniels Jr. (ATH), Terry Smith (TE), and Norris Scott Jr. (LB).

In 2011, Booker T. Washington's 2010-2011 repeat 5A State Championship Basketball team was ranked No. 20 in the RivalsHigh100 top basketball teams in the nation.[13] It was led by Class of 2011 seniors Korey Billbury, Tyler Lockett, Dante Barnett, Tre Stearns, CJ Hyslop, Juwan Parker, Myles Clark, and Phabian Glasco.

State championships[edit]

  • Boys' Basketball 15: 1973, 1977, 1981, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2010, 2011[14]
  • Girls' Basketball 3: 2008, 2009, 2013
  • Football 8: 1967, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1973, 1984, 2008, 2010[15]
  • Boys' Soccer 7: 1985, 1992, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2008
  • Boys' Swimming: 2: 1981, 1985
  • Boys' Track 4: 1970, 1979, 1982, 1984
  • Girls' Track 9: 1974, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1997, 2004, 2005, 2010
  • Wrestling 4: 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979
  • Volleyball 2: 1976, 2011

Notable alumni[edit]


Other notable alumni[edit]

Notable faculty[edit]


  1. ^ OSSAA Avg. Daily Membership Archived November 9, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ a b c Historic Tulsa Blogspot. "Booker T. Washington High School, 1913." September 3, 2009.
  3. ^ a b Hirsch, James S. Riot and Remembrance: The Tulsa Race War and its Legacy. 2002. ISBN 0-618-10813-0.
  4. ^ "Tulsa School Board: Magnet schools quotas tossed". Tulsa World. 2003-12-16. Retrieved 2007-10-11. 
  5. ^ "Facility replacement". American School & University. Retrieved 2007-04-10. 
  6. ^ On Course for Success, ACT 2005.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "The Top of the Class". Newsweek. 2007-05-28. Archived from the original on 2007-10-06. Retrieved 2007-10-11. 
  9. ^[permanent dead link]
  10. ^
  11. ^ National Academic Championship
  12. ^ OSSAA
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Seals is welcomed as coach". Barry Retrieved 2007-05-15.  External link in |publisher= (help)

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Paul M. Dorman High School
National Academic Championship champion
Succeeded by
Torrey Pines High School
Preceded by
William Henry Harrison High School
National Academic Championship champion
Succeeded by
The John Cooper School