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Central High School (Davenport, Iowa)

Coordinates: 41°31′47″N 90°34′32″W / 41.5297°N 90.5756°W / 41.5297; -90.5756
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41°31′47″N 90°34′32″W / 41.5297°N 90.5756°W / 41.5297; -90.5756

Central High School
1120 Main Street

TypePublic secondary
MottoCommunicate with Dignity and Respect
School districtDavenport Community Schools
Part ofCollege Square Historic District (ID83003628)
Added to NRHPNovember 18, 1983[3]
SuperintendentTJ Schneckloth [1]
PrincipalJon Flynn Activities Kevin Petersen
Faculty97.84 (FTE)[2]
Enrollment1,582 (2021-22)[2]
Student to teacher ratio16.17[2]
Color(s)Red and Blue    
AthleticsMississippi Athletic Conference
MascotBlue Devils
ACT average21.2[4]
NewspaperThe BlackhawK
YearbookThe Blackhawk

Central High School, or Davenport Central High School is a public four-year comprehensive high school located in Davenport, Iowa. The school building opened in 1907 as "Davenport High School," and is now one of three public high schools part of the Davenport Community School District. The school, whose western side is located along U.S. Highway 61, draws students primarily from the southern, eastern, and central portions of the city.

The school has an enrollment of approximately 1,582 students in grades 9 through 12, and offers over 40,000 courses in a four-block schedule. Central also has a variety of extracurricular activities, clubs, and teams. The school also houses the Davenport School District's high school autism program. The school complex is part of the College Square Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Early years[edit]

High schools had operated in various buildings and Davenport since 1861, the longest-lived of those sites being in roughly the area where Seventh and Eighth, and Iowa streets are today. An early history of Davenport and Scott County stated that the building was opened in 1875, and "grew from year to year until the building was too small to accommodate the numbers."[5]

In 1900, a site for a future high school was secured at the old Griswold College property, roughly where 12th and Main streets are today. The school board agreed to purchase the property from the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa for $53,000, and voters agreed to move forward with the purchase. The Davenport history described the site as "an ideal one for the high school of this city. The ground covers a block in the central part of Davenport; it is beautifully situated, centrally located and readily accessible."[5]

School board members spent time studying "the best high school structures in the Mississippi Valley," and after outlining their wishes, the architectural firm of Clausen & Burrows were hired to draw up a blueprint for the new building. The H.B. Water Construction Co. of Danville, Ill., was hired as general contractor, and construction began in 1905. The groundbreaking was described as a "great outpouring of the inhabitants of this city," with students and Bishop Morrison of the Diocese of Iowa participating. The building's facade was made of Marquette rain-drop sandstone and red tile roof, floors of terrazo mosaic and hardwood maple, and French plate-glass windows.[5]

Construction of the four-story tall (three stories above a "tall basement"), 202×204-foot building, was completed in January 1907, with a capital cost $347,000 and capacity for 1,600 students. The new building included a gymnasium, a 1,300-seat auditorium, a manual training room, science laboratories, a library, mechanical and free-hand drawing rooms, cafeteria and administrative offices. The science laboratories were described as being "the most abundantly supplied with the most modern apparatus and other means of successful instruction."[5]

F.L. Smart was principal when the new high school opened; George Edward Marshall was named principal in 1907,[5] and served until his death in 1932. The gymnasium, with seating for 4,000 people, is named after Marshall.

In 1910, there were seven course of study, each 40 weeks long and "sufficient to meet the wants of all students of high school age." Academic disciplines 100 years ago covered Latin, German, science, English, commercial business, manual training (for those entering industrial and technical careers) and domestic science.[5] One hundred years later, different courses of study are in place.

Davenport High to Davenport Central[edit]

For more than 40 years, the new Davenport High School building served as the city's lone high school, and until the late 1950s, the school also served the secondary education needs of much of Scott County as well. Bettendorf did not have its own high school until 1951, meaning many Bettendorf students wanting to further their education chose Davenport High. The same was true for many northern Scott County students prior to 1958, the year North Scott High School opened in Eldridge.

As for Davenport, by the late 1950s, the city had grown to more than 80,000 residents, and one high school campus was no longer enough to meet the city's needs. West High School opened in 1960 to accommodate students from the fast-growing west and northwest parts of the city, plus the surrounding rural areas of which the Davenport School District encompassed. "Davenport High" then became Davenport Central, and served the central, southern and northeast areas of Davenport. The city's third high school – North – opened in a renovated junior high school building in 1985 and served the northwest areas of Davenport.

Many additions and renovations have been made to the original 1905 high school building.


The school participates in the Mississippi Athletic Conference, and athletic teams are known as the Blue Devils. School colors are red and blue. The school fields athletic teams in 21 sports, including:

  • Summer: Baseball, softball.
  • Fall: Football, volleyball, girls' swimming, boys' cross country, girls' cross country and boys' golf.
  • Winter: Boys' basketball, girls' basketball, wrestling, boys' swimming and boys' and girls' bowling.
  • Spring: Boys' track and field, girls' track and field, boys' soccer, girls' soccer, girls' golf, boys' tennis and girls' tennis.

The school also has a cheerleading squad and a competitive dance team.

Davenport Central is classified as a 4A school (Iowa's largest 48 schools), according to the Iowa High School Athletic Association and Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union; in sports where there are fewer divisions, the Blue Devils are always in the largest class (e.g., Class 3A for wrestling, boys soccer, and Class 2A for golf, tennis and girls soccer). The school is a member of the 10-team Mississippi Athletic Conference (known to locals as the MAC), which comprises schools from the Iowa Quad Cities, along with DeWitt, Clinton and Muscatine high schools.

Davenport Central's biggest rivalries are with intercity rivals West and North high schools as well as Davenport Assumption High School, the city's private school.


Throughout the school's history, Davenport Central has enjoyed great success in many of its sports, earning many MAC conference titles and producing all-state athletes that have enjoyed success at the collegiate level and in their careers.

For many years, Central − and Davenport High before that − enjoyed success in sports, including football, basketball, wrestling, track and baseball. Football teams have won numerous state titles in football, including Class 4A playoff titles in 1973, 1976 and 1983.[6] Many former Blue Devil players won all-state honors, and several went on to illustrious careers in professional football, including Roger Craig of the San Francisco 49ers. From 1941 through 1970, Central − and Davenport High before that − won seven state titles and two runner-up trophies in boys basketball.[7][8] Since then, Central teams have appeared in three state tournaments, winning two state runner up trophies (in 1979 and 2008).[8][9]

  • Baseball (11-time State Champions - 1940, 1941, 1944, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1960, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1979)[10]
  • Boys' Basketball (12-time State Champions - 1913, 1920, 1921, 1929, 1930, 1941, 1947, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1958, 1970)[11]
  • Boys' Cross Country (2-time State Champions - 1951, 1971)[12]
  • Football (6-time State Champions - 1955, 1957, 1962, 1973, 1976, 1983)[13]
  • Boys' Tennis - 2007 Class 2A State Champions[14]
  • Boys' Track and Field (14-time State Champions - 1915, 1931, 1935, 1942, 1947, 1952, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1978, 1982, 1983, 1984, 2005)[15]
  • Girls' Track and Field (2-time Class 3A State Champions - 1982, 1984)[16]
  • Volleyball - 1981 Class 2A State Champions[17]
  • Wrestling (2-time State Champions - 1954, 1956)[18]

Performing arts[edit]


The Vocal Music Program at Davenport Central travels and competes extensively, especially Central's two show choirs, "Blue Vibrations" (JV mixed) and "Central Singers, Inc." (varsity mixed). Along with West High School, Central hosts the Great River Show Choir Competition at the historic Adler Theater each February.


Central's award-winning Band Program is under the direction of Alexander Wilga, Brian Zeglis, and David Nicholson, and consists of a Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, Freshman Concert Band, Jazz Band, Pep Band, and the Marching Blue Devils. The Marching Blue Devils appear regularly in Bands of America's Grand National Championships.[19]


The Davenport Central Orchestra is under the direction of Kendra Elledge and has two orchestras consisting of the 9th grade "Freshman Orchestra" and the 10-12 grade "Concert Orchestra". Additionally, there is an extracurricular "Chamber Orchestra" that features students wishing for more difficult music and meets twice a week before school. The Chamber Orchestra competes in the "Solo and Ensemble Fest" during April, while the Concert Orchestra competes in the State Orchestras Contest. Both groups have historically placed at the top of their division for the past 10 years.

Notable alumni[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "No longer interim superintendent, Schneckloth prepared to tackle what's ahead for Davenport schools". Quad City Times. January 27, 2021. Retrieved July 18, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c "Central High School". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved December 10, 2023.
  3. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  4. ^ "Davenport Schools - A District of Distinction" (PDF). Davenportschools.org. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 27, 2007. Retrieved May 25, 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Downer, Harry E., "History of Davenport and Scott County, Iowa," Vol. 1, S.J. Publishing Co., Chicago, 1910.
  6. ^ "Football championship game scores" (PDF). Iowa High School Athletic Association.
  7. ^ State Basketball Tournament Game Results, 1940-1969, Iowa High School Athletic Association.
  8. ^ a b State Basketball Tournament Game Results, 1970-1999, Iowa High School Athletic Association.
  9. ^ State Basketball Tournament Game Results, 2000-present, Iowa High School Athletic Association.
  10. ^ "2020 IHSAA Baseball State Tournament Stat Book" (PDF). Iowa High School Athletic Association. June 10, 2020. Retrieved September 20, 2020.
  11. ^ "2020 State Tournament Stat Book Basketball" (PDF). Iowa High School Athletic Association. January 29, 2020. Retrieved September 20, 2020.
  12. ^ "2020 IHSAA Cross Country Stat Book" (PDF). Iowa High School Athletic Association. December 16, 2019. Retrieved September 20, 2020.
  13. ^ "Record Book Football 2020 Complete Edition" (PDF). Iowa High School Athletic Association. June 9, 2020. Retrieved September 20, 2020.
  14. ^ "2020 IHSAA Tennis State Book" (PDF). Iowa High School Athletic Association. June 10, 2020. Retrieved September 20, 2020.
  15. ^ "2020 IHSAA Track & Field Stat Book" (PDF). Iowa High School Athletic Association. December 16, 2019. Retrieved September 20, 2020.
  16. ^ "2019 IGHSAU Track & Field Record Book" (PDF). Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union. May 13, 2019. Retrieved September 20, 2020.
  17. ^ "Davenport Central". Iowa High School Sports. Retrieved July 18, 2021.
  18. ^ "2020 Wrestling Stat Book" (PDF). Iowa High School Athletic Association. January 29, 2020. Retrieved September 20, 2020.
  19. ^ Fortune, Erin. "Bands of America Grand National Championships". Musicforall.org. Retrieved May 25, 2018.
  20. ^ Belanger, Larry (February 9, 1962). "Catfish Keith - Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved December 8, 2012.

External links[edit]