Central High School (Memphis, Tennessee)

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For schools of the same name, see Central High School (disambiguation).
Central High School
Memphis Central High modern entry
Enhancing The Tradition of Excellence
306 South Bellevue Boulevard
Memphis, Tennessee, 38104
United States
Type Public
Established 1909
School district Memphis City Schools
Principal Gregory McCullough
Grades 9-12
Enrollment 1,870
Color(s) Green and gold         
Mascot Warriors
Nickname The High School
Rival White Station High School
Central High School
Front of Central High
Central High School (Memphis, Tennessee) is located in Tennessee
Central High School (Memphis, Tennessee)
Location 306 S. Bellevue Blvd., Memphis, Tennessee
Coordinates 35°8′1″N 90°1′11″W / 35.13361°N 90.01972°W / 35.13361; -90.01972Coordinates: 35°8′1″N 90°1′11″W / 35.13361°N 90.01972°W / 35.13361; -90.01972
Area 6 acres (2.4 ha)
Built 1911
Architect Alsup, B.C.
Architectural style Tudor Revival, Jacobethan Revival
Governing body Local
MPS Public Schools of Memphis 1902-1915 TR
NRHP Reference #


Added to NRHP September 17, 1982

Central High School is a public high school (grades 9-12) in Memphis, Tennessee. Since it was founded in the early 1900s and is considered the first high school in Memphis; Central is often called "THE" High School. It is a part of the Memphis City Schools Optional School system where it is recognized as a school specializing in college preparatory programs. The principal is Gregory McCullough. Central's mascot is the Warrior and the school colors are green and gold. For recognition as the successor to Memphis High School, the first high school in Memphis, Central High's football team, rather than having artwork denoting the "Warrior" mascot, simply has a capital "H", for THE High School


Central is the successor of the Memphis High School, the first high school in Memphis, which was founded in 1897 in a building on Poplar Avenue that became the headquarters of the Board of Education after Central High was completed. Central High has a long-standing tradition of excellence dating back to 1911, when the current building was erected on Raleigh Avenue (now Bellevue Blvd.) [2]. Central High's building is on the List of Registered Historic Places in Tennessee.

Tradition of Excellence[edit]

Central High School has traditions unique to any other school in Memphis. Central's fight song (Warrior Song) has been the same since 1936. The second part of the fight song (War Drum) was added later on in the 20th century. Also, the original school building still exists, although expansions were added in 1970 and 2007.


Central High School offers a traditional program of academics as well as an 'Optional' (Honors) program. The optional program consists of taking advanced classes, maintaining a 3.0 GPA, and successfully completing various qualifying tests. Central offers one of the highest numbers of Advanced Placement classes in the city. Central is also considered to have one of the most rigorous academic programs of the Memphis City High Schools along with White Station and Ridgeway High Schools. In the 9th grade, Central offers a course called Intelligence Gifted, formerly known as CLUE (Creative Learning in a Unique Environment), which admits a competitive class of students to engage in more in-depth study of language and reading. Students who are admitted into the IG program take this course in lieu of an honors English class during their freshman year.


In 2008 Central High had 27 or more students per teacher with an enrollment of 1,870 and composed 89% Black, 6% White, 2.8% Asian/Pacific Islander, 2.1% Hispanic and 0.1% American Indian or Alaskan Native.:[2]

Central High School had graduation rate of 88.3% in 2008, compared to the state average graduation rate of 82.2%.[3]

Extra-Curricular/Clubs and Organizations[edit]

Central High school is known for its many clubs in foreign language, volunteer service, and honor societies. Central's extracurricular activities include:

Central's concert choir under the direction of Mr. Gaylon Robinson has won many awards in the state and nation. Central's band adopted their own mascot called "Sam." (Spirit, Attitude, Musicionship) Central currently has two new band directors - Mr. Ollie Lidell and Mr. Roderick White. Central also has many successful athletic teams. The most notable are the softball team, cross country, basketball and track teams. The Lady Warrior Basketball team won the City and Regional Championships and were semifinalists at the state level in 2010. The Student Council is also very notable in the city, having participated in national and international student council conventions.

Noteworthy Alumni[edit]

  • Avron Fogelman - (Prominent Memphis Businessman)
  • Alex Chilton - (musician of the Box Tops – “The Letter” - would have been CHS '69, but dropped out when The Letter became a hit)
  • Bette Greene - (CHS ’52; author “Summer of My German Soldier”)
  • Kemmons Wilson - (Creator of the Holiday Inn)
  • Charles W. Burson - (CHS '62; legal counsel and chief of staff to Vice-President Al Gore)
  • Jack Belz - (CHS '45; real estate developer who restored the Peabody Hotel in Memphis [3])
  • George Barnes alias Machine Gun Kelly
  • Kevin "Ginji" Pickles - (Former MGO Superstar)
  • Charita Moses - (Miss Tennessee-USA 1990 and Miss USA semifinalist)
  • Lashundra "Trenyce" Cobbins - (CHS '98; American Idol Participant and Singer)
  • Devin Crutcher - (CHS '98; Band member on "Making the Band" on MTV)
  • Sherry Mathis - (Broadway star, soap opera star-Search For Tomorrow)
  • Terry Manning - Music producer, Photographer
  • William Sanderson - (CHS ’62; 'Larry' on the Newhart show)
  • John Farris - (CHS ’55; author “Harrison High”, a fictional account of Central High)
  • William G. Leftwich, Jr. - (Marine killed in Vietnam)
  • William F. Barnes - (Football coach at UCLA)
  • Peter Taylor - (short-story writer and novelist)
  • Damon "D" West (CHS '92; noted Memphis music entertainment artist/manager/promoter [1990–present])
  • Lester Hudson - Professional Basketball Player
  • William Poduska (CHS '55) - electrical engineer, businessman, and professor
  • Jon Wells (CHS '76) - drummer for several bands, including Black Oak Arkansas, where he was nicknamed "Thunder Paws"
  • Natalie Jackson (CHS '78) - now Kudisan Kai; backup singer for Elton John and others, now solo career
  • Edward L. Stanton III - United States Attorney & Federal Judicial nominee

External links[edit]

Memphis Central High School Websites

Memphis Central High School Class Websites

Central High School Concert Singers


  1. ^ Staff (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ http://www.schoolmatters.com/schools.aspx/q/page=sp/sid=94712 School Matters, Standard & Poor’s, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. (2008)
  3. ^ Rebik, Dana. MCS Dropout Rates: Parent Involvement Needed (11/11/2008).