Cleveland High School (Cleveland, Mississippi)

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Cleveland High School
Motto Ever to Excel
Established 1906
School district Cleveland School District
Color(s) Black, Old Gold         
Mascot Wildcats

Cleveland High School is a public high school serving students in grades 9-12, located in Cleveland, Mississippi. It is a part of the Cleveland School District.

This high school was historically white though by 2015 its student body was about half black. In 2016 it will consolidate with East Side High School.[1]


Cleveland High School opened its doors October 15, 1906, with A. K. Eckles as principal. The original building, a two-story colonial design with four classrooms, was located where the present building now stands. The school’s first athletic event was a baseball game in April 1907. The CHS band was first organized in 1909 [there is strong evidence that suggests CHS had the first high school band in Mississippi]. The first graduation was held in June 1910; there were four graduates. An addition with an auditorium was added to the original structure in 1916. Fire destroyed this building in 1918.[2]

A new, three-story brick building, designed to be the “largest and handsomest” school in Mississippi, was completed at the same location in 1921. On this campus in 1922, the movement that led to the creation of Delta State University began. CHS was the sponsor of Cleveland’s first Boy Scout troop, and, at various times, served as the meeting place of the First Methodist Church, the local Jewish community, the Rotary Club, the Exchange Club, and the Delta Medical Association. Also in 1922, CHS was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The school’s first of 30 state championships was won in 1935 in Debate. During World War II, some 600 CHS alumni and students served in the U.S. military; sixteen died in the war. The epicenter of patriotic activity in Cleveland during World War II, Cleveland High School’s second building was destroyed by fire Christmas Eve, 1945.[2]

The present high school building and cafeteria were completed in 1950, the band hall in 1963.[2]

Integrated in 1965, CHS was the first public school in the Mississippi Delta to admit black students.[2] Integration came as a result of a racial discrimination lawsuit first filed in 1965.[3]

About 200 black students who were otherwise assigned to East Side High School enrolled in Cleveland High School immediately after the Cleveland School District established a "freedom of choice" plan allowing students to transfer to any school in the district.[3]

In 2000, hundreds of alumni, students, and parents volunteered thousands of man-hours giving the school a much-needed makeover. Cleveland High School celebrated its 100th birthday in October 2006 with a three-day Centennial Celebration that was attended by more than 700 alumni and guests.[2] In October 2008, a Mississippi Historical Marker honoring Margaret Wade (‘29) was placed on the school’s front lawn. The school’s 100th graduating class celebrated its commencement in May 2010.[citation needed]

By 2015 Cleveland High had become racially mixed, while the other high school in Cleveland, East Side High remained all black. Sharon Lerner of The Atlantic wrote that "a fondness for the current incarnation of Cleveland High" had developed, and that some Cleveland residents did not want to risk this by forcing Cleveland High to consolidate with East Side. This remained a possibility as the racial discrimination suit was still active. Jim Tims, a former member of the Cleveland School Board, stated that by consolidating the schools the single high school would be about 30% white, and that since White people do not wish to be "a small minority" they would engage in white flight and enroll in nearby majority white private schools.[3]

In January 2016, test scores for Cleveland High School grade 10 students who had participated in the PARCC assessment of English skills were 18 points above the state average and 28 points above the 267,000-student PARCC average. Principal Steven Craddock commented: "this proves what we have known for some time...that our students are just as sharp as teens in other, more affluent parts of our also shows that CHS is striving to live up to our motto, ‘Ever to Excel’."[4]

As of May 2016 Cleveland High received less funds, in other words fewer than over $3,000, per student in its budget compared to East Side high.[3]

As of 2015 none of Cleveland High's valedictorians were black.[3]

In May 2016 the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi ordered the school district to consolidate the Cleveland High with East Side High School for desegregation purposes.[5] Cleveland High School will house all high school students, while the former East Side High School will house all middle school students.[6]


Currently, Cleveland High School competes in the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) 4A athletics in 12 different sports. Cleveland High maintains programs in Soccer, Cross Country, Track and Field, Football, Basketball, Swimming, Baseball, Softball, Cheerleading, Dance, Volleyball, and Powerlifting, as well as a competitive marching and concert band program. The band program was the first of its kind in the state of Mississippi and remains the only competitive corp style marching band in the Mississippi Delta region.

Cleveland High School has a softball field and a weight room. Several of the amenities at Cleveland High are not present at East Side High.[3]


As of 2016, prior to the court-ordered consolidation with East Side High,[1] the student population was 47% black and 45% white. The projected enrollment of the consolidated high school for fall 2016 was 1,098 students, with 63% being black and 32% being white.[5]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ a b Gates, Jimmie E. "Cleveland schools must desegregate" (Archive). The Clarion-Ledger. May 16, 2016. Retrieved on May 17, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e Craddock, Steven Culver (2009). A Greater Degree of Pardonable Pride: A Centennial History of Cleveland High School, 1906-2006. ISBN 061533735X
  3. ^ a b c d e f Lerner, Sharon. "A School District That Was Never Desegregated" (Archive). The Atlantic. February 5, 2015. Retrieved on May 18, 2016.
  4. ^ Robinette, Aimee (January 4, 2016). "CHS Scores High". Bolivar Bullet.  (Archive)
  5. ^ a b Brown, Emma. "Judge orders Mississippi school district to desegregate, 62 years after Brown v. Board of Education." Washington Post. May 16, 2016. Retrieved on May 17, 2016.
  6. ^ Home page. Cleveland School District. Retrieved on May 21, 2016. "United States District Court Judge Debra Brown on Friday May 13, 2016, adopted the Department of Justice's plan to consolidate middle and high schools in the Cleveland School District, which will result in one high school at Cleveland High School and one middle school at East Side High."

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°44′55″N 90°43′30″W / 33.74861°N 90.72500°W / 33.74861; -90.72500