Gainesville High School (Florida)

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Gainesville High School
Gainesville High School (Florida).jpg
Gainesville High School, June 2018
1900 NW 13th Street
Gainesville, Florida 32609
United States
TypePublic school
MottoGo 'Canes!
School districtAlachua County Public Schools
SuperintendentKaren Clarke
PrincipalDavid Shelnutt
Enrollment1888 (2017-2018)
Hours in school day8:25 am - 2:47 pm
Color(s)Purple and White          
MascotPurple Hurricanes

Gainesville High School (GHS) is a high school in Gainesville, Florida, United States.

The first public high school in Gainesville was established in 1905 in what is now known as the Kirby Smith Building on East University Avenue. The school consisted of grades 9-12 and was known generally as the "Gainesville graded high school." Today the high school is operated by the Alachua County School District.

The current principal is David Shellnut, who joined the GHS staff in December 2011.[1]

In 2006, Gainesville High School was re-accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.



The construction for the first school to be explicitly known as Gainesville High School was completed in 1922 near the intersection of SW 7th Street and West University Avenue. The school lasted at this location for over thirty years with Rhodes Scholar Principal F.W. Buchholz at the helm for almost all of this period. With the construction of the present campus at 1900 NW 13th Street in 1955, the former high school building served as Buchholz Junior High School until its roof collapsed in the mid-1960s.

From 1900 until 1970 Gainesville High School was the main public high school serving the city of Gainesville, in addition to the segregated Lincoln High School. However, because of large growth in the city throughout the 60s, the capacity of GHS became strained, forcing the district to plan for a new high school. Because of the complications surrounding integration in the 1969-1970 school year, Lincoln High School was closed midyear and the student body was reassigned to GHS (on double sessions) while two new high schools were constructed and phased in beginning with the 1970-1971 school year. These two schools, F.W. Buchholz and Eastside, continue to be arch-rivals of Gainesville High to this day.

Addition of the 9th grade center[edit]

In the mid-1990s, construction of a new wing on the northwest corner of the campus was undertaken to ease further over-crowding and foster better integration of incoming 9th-grade students. The new wing, referred to as the "9th Grade Center", houses four full-service computer labs, nearly 20 classrooms and science labs, and a large multipurpose room which functions as a meeting place and a cafeteria. The new facility also helped to bolster the school's new magnet program, the Academy of Health Professions (AHP), which is housed in the building.

The Cambridge Program[edit]

In 2004, the school took on a new magnet program, the Cambridge Advanced International Certificate of Education, aimed at attracting top academic talent from the county's middle schools. The Cambridge Program offers academically capable students an international, pre-university curriculum and examination system, emphasizing the value of broad and balanced studies. The Cambridge curriculum aims to encourage the skills of independent research and investigation, the use of initiative and creativity, and the application of knowledge and skills. A range of assessment techniques is used; emphasis is placed upon the use of externally scored examinations, known as "papers," which are administered by the University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE), as well as upon compulsory practical work where appropriate. The first GHS Cambridge graduates were awarded their diplomas in 2008. GHS is the only high school in the district teaching the Cambridge curriculum.[2]

Band and colorguard[edit]

The band director of GHS is Bill Pirzer, who has been band director since 2005. In 2005, the Purple Hurricane Marching Band won two Florida Marching Band Coalition regional competitions. They received the highest finals score out of any FMBC competition during the 2005 season with a 92.5. Later that year, they received second place in Class AAA at the FMBC State Championships, with scores of 89.00 for their preliminary performance and 83.55 for their finals performance. They concluded their season by attending the ABC Channel 6 Boscov's Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The 2006 Purple Hurricane Marching Band won the Grand Championship at the "Southern Showcase of Champions" for the second year in a row. A website [3] was launched at the beginning of the 2006-2007 school year. The highest score in their history was achieved with their 2007 show, "One Hand, One Heart: The Music of Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story." With this show, they became Grand Champions of the Southern Showcase of Champions for the third year in a row, and later won the Panhandle Marching Invitational. In 2008 they won at the Southern Showcase of Champions for the fourth year in a row. At the State FMBC Finals they earned second place in class AAA at Tropicana Field, earning a 93.30, the highest score in GHS history. In 2008, the Hurricane Band won the Class AAA Grand Championship at Tropicana Dome. In 2011, the band finished first in the 3A class with its show, "Illusions". In 2015, the Hurricane Marching Band won another 3A state championship with their show "Finding My Way Back Home", receiving an 88.2.

Attendance boundary[edit]

Dependent child residents of the University of Florida family housing properties Corry Village, Diamond Village, Maguire Village, and University Village South, as well as the UF affiliate complex the Continuum, are within the attendance boundary of Gainesville High.[4][5]


Gainesville High School competes under the name "The Purple Hurricanes." In 1980, the football team won the state championship. In the 1970s games were played at nearby Florida Field, home of the Florida Gators. Currently, the Hurricanes play their home games at Citizen's Field, which is also used for home games by other Gainesville schools Eastside High School and Buchholz High School.

The basketball program won its first state championship in 1969, then won again in 1999, 2000, and 2009.


The purpose of the Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) program in Gainesville High School [6] is to instill in students the value of citizenship, service to the United States, personal responsibility, and a sense of accomplishment.


The GHS NJROTC Unit was established in 1979. Activities include air rifle, regulation and exhibition drill, academics, athletics, orienteering, and color guard. The unit participates in parades, Leadership Academy, Basic Leadership Training Camp, orientation visits to naval bases, and community service throughout the Alachua County surrounding area.

Unit mission[edit]

"To empower students/cadets to continue education and achieve personal and team goals by providing an environment to develop leadership, confidence, discipline, and learn skills to become great American citizens through the use of classroom lessons, military close order drill, and uniform inspection."


The GHS NJROTC Unit received its first Distinguished Unit Award in 2013, making it one of the top units in the Area Seven Region. It was also awarded the Most Improved unit in Area Seven and was Runner-Up as the Most Improved Unit in the Nation. The unit has also been given the Unit Achievement Award for three consecutive years.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "Faculty & Staff Contact Information - Gainesville High School : GHS0151". Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-05-03. Retrieved 2010-05-14.
  3. ^ "Gainesville High School Band & Guard". Gainesville High School Band & Guard.
  4. ^ "Graduate & Family Housing Villages." University of Florida. Retrieved on September 13, 2015.
  5. ^ "School Site Locator." Alachua County Public Schools. Retrieved on September 13, 2015.
  6. ^ "Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps - Home". Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-02-08. Retrieved 2010-05-14.
  8. ^ "Brittany Daniel". Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  9. ^ "Don Felder Biography". Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  10. ^ "Swampland". Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  11. ^ Dave Sschlenker. "No heartbreak at Petty's Gainesville homecoming". Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  12. ^ "Clinton Portis". Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  13. ^ "". Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  14. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-06-07. Retrieved 2010-05-14.
  15. ^ College Football Hall of Fame, Hall of Famers, Dale Van Sickel Member Biography. Retrieved July 22, 2010.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 29°40′11″N 82°20′26″W / 29.6696895°N 82.3406604°W / 29.6696895; -82.3406604