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Garden City High School (Kansas)

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Garden City High
GCHS logo.png
2720 Buffalo Way Boulevard
Garden City, Kansas 67846
United States
Coordinates 37°59′32″N 100°50′27″W / 37.99222°N 100.84083°W / 37.99222; -100.84083Coordinates: 37°59′32″N 100°50′27″W / 37.99222°N 100.84083°W / 37.99222; -100.84083
School type Public, High School
Established 1910[1]
School board Board Website
School district USD 457[2]
CEEB code 171065[3]
Principal Steve Nordby
Grades 9 to 12
Enrollment 2,111
Campus Urban
Color(s)      Brown
Athletics conference Western Athletic Conference
Mascot Buffalo
Rival Dodge City High School
Newspaper The Sugar Beet

Garden City High School (known locally as GCHS) is a fully accredited high school, serving students in grades 9–12, located in Garden City, Kansas, United States. Garden City High School (GCHS), a part of Garden City Public Schools, is the only high school within the city limits of Garden City, KS. The school colors are brown and white, although gold is no longer considered an official color. Approximately 2,111 students are enrolled for the 2016-2017 school year. The current principal is Steve Nordby.[4]

Garden City High was founded in 1910 on the site that is now Sabine Hall in order to help educate the increasing population of Garden City. In 1917, a new high school was constructed at the site that is now known as Calkins Hall and two years later, the school was renamed "Sequoayah High School". In 1954, the school moved to its previous location, and on November 4, 2008, a bond issue for a new $95 million high school was passed. The first class to graduate from the current high school was the Class of 2013.[5]

Garden City is a member of the Kansas State High School Activities Association and offers a variety of sports programs. Athletic teams compete in Class 6A and are known as the "Buffaloes". Extracurricular activities are also offered in the form of performing arts, school publications, and clubs. Despite rapidly rising numbers of English as a Second Language students, Garden City High School has raised student achievement in reading, mathematics and science.[6] The school newspaper, The Sugar Beet, was established in 1910 and is the oldest high school newspaper in the state of Kansas.[7]


Early beginnings[edit]

Sabine Hall
Sabine House (Garden City) from SE 1.JPG
Sabine Hall served as the original high school from 1910 to 1917.
Garden City High School (Kansas) is located in Kansas
Garden City High School (Kansas)
Garden City High School (Kansas) is located in the US
Garden City High School (Kansas)
Location 201 Buffalo Jones Ave, Garden City, Kansas
Coordinates 37°58′21″N 100°52′31″W / 37.97250°N 100.87528°W / 37.97250; -100.87528
Built 1910
Architect Stanton, J.F.; Krebs, L.C.
Architectural style Classical Revival
NRHP reference # 96000075[8]
Added to NRHP February 16, 1996

The first high school in Garden City that would eventually become Garden City High School was established in 1910 on the location that is now Sabine Hall in order to educate a rapidly increasing population.[1] During the school's inaugural year, the school newspaper, The Sugar Beet, was established. In 1913, the high school was accredited by the North Central Association. In 1916, the Garden City School Board set a minimum teaching standard of one year of college and two years of teaching experience for all staff members, and a year later, the high school was accredited by the U.S. Military Academy. Later that year, a new high school was constructed at the site that is now known as Calkins Hall. Two years later, the high school was renamed "Sequoyah High School". The Board of Education approved night school in 1920 and summer school was approved the following year. In 1926, vocational home economics was started and in 1927, the Board established a maximum for teaching of two years of college and two years of experience.[1] Calkins Hall was remodeled in 1929 and 15 credits were now required for graduation. This number was increased to 16 credits in 1931 when the high school was renamed "Garden City High School".[1] During this time, the main gym was named in honor of Ben Grimsley and was known as the "Ben Grimsley Gymnasium". The hot lunch program began in 1938.[1]

As years passed, the athletics department began to experience moderate success, and in 1945, Garden City won its first state championship in track as well as repeating the feat in 1946.[1] A new high school was constructed in 1954, with the auditorium being completed the following year. The graduation credit limit was increased further to 19 credits in 1958. Garden City High School experienced many changes in 1959, including the creation of the counseling and honors programs.

1960s to 1980s[edit]

In 1961, the main gymnasium (referred to as "The Garden") was completed. The football stadium was constructed in 1962 which was one of the largest stadiums in western Kansas at the time. Two years later, Garden City finally experienced unification as Garden City District No. 1 became Unified School District No. 457. During this same year, the football stadium was renamed "Memorial Stadium". As interest in athletics grew throughout Garden City, so did the athletic departments. Cross-country was introduced in 1966 and the men's basketball team won their first state championship.[1] Eight trailers were also purchased for use in the remedial reading program. Two years later, GCHS experienced major renovations and expansion as the J.D. Adams Vocational Building was constructed and other high school remodeling was completed. The population of Garden City at this time was 14,745. The following year, an agreement was signed between the JUCO and the district relative to the exchange of the former junior college site for senior high vocational building space and other specified district facilities used by the college. The wrestling and debate teams each won their first state titles in 1971.[1] Restrooms facilities were also constructed during this year. The men's basketball team advanced to the state championship the following year. In 1974, math requirements for graduation increased to 1½ credits which became effective with the 1978 graduating class. An addition to the music department was completed in September 1975, allowing more students to participate in a wide variety of musical activities and programs. Garden City would win its first state championship in men's golf in 1977 and progress continued throughout the rest of the decade. The practice gym and locker rooms were added in 1981. In 1984, an idea was conceived among administrators and board members of the school district to recognize past graduates of GCHS who had gone on to distinguish themselves through outstanding accomplishments. This idea was brought into action the following spring, when the first members of the Garden City High School Hall of Fame were inducted.[9] The Buffalo athletics programs struggled throughout the rest of the decade, failing to win a single state championship.[1]


The 1990s began with progress and changes. In 1991, J.D. Adams Hall was remodeled and 9th grade was moved to the high school. The Buffaloes wrestling team would win state championships in 1990 and the following three years.[1] In 1992, the new cafeteria was completed and the alternative high school was moved to 1401 W. Jones Street. Dr. Milton Pippenger was appointed superintendent in 1993 and a new enclosed walkway was constructed. Another major addition was constructed which would eventually be used as the trophy room. The city population at this time was 24,964. In 1998, the school district unsuccessfully attempted to pass a bond issue calling for a new high school. In terms of athletics, the Buffaloes continued their dominance throughout the rest of the decade. The wrestling program added two more state championships in 1998 and 1999, while the men's golf team won a state title in 1998 . Additionally, the football team finished state runner-up in 1998 and won their first state championship in 1999.[1]

Sabine Hall was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996, with the alternative name, Garden City High School.[8]

21st century[edit]

Throughout the 2000s, GCHS experienced many significant changes. In the fall of 2003, James Mireles became the new principal, replacing former principal Kevin Burr. The men's basketball team advanced to the state semi-final in 2003 with the help of several future collegiate athletes. The following year, artificial turf was installed at Memorial Stadium. The Garden City Public Schools Foundation was founded in 2004. In 2006, an open-air courtyard located at the center of the previous high school was enclosed and replaced with an atrium to increase space for lunchtime seating and activities. A new pressbox and visitor stands were constructed in 2007.[1]

On November 4, 2008, a bond issue for a new $95 million high school was passed. Groundbreaking for the new high school took place on September 23, 2009, and construction was completed on April 1, 2012 at $7 million under budget. As a result, the school board approved construction of a $975,000 ticket/concession/restroom and storage building. This also allowed the asphalt parking to be changed to concrete and for adding artificial turf to the football field, which saves on future maintenance costs. Installation of the football field's turf was completed in September 2011.[10] In early 2012, the Board of Education approved a 1-1 initiative, providing every student with an iPad. In 2012, GCHS was selected as one of 314 Blue Ribbon Schools nationwide.[11][12] The Blue Ribbon Award recognizes public and private schools which perform at high levels or have made significant academic improvements. In addition, principal James Mireles was honored with the Terrel H. Bell Award for Outstanding Leadership.[13]


Garden City High School was designated a Blue Ribbon School in 2012.

Garden City High School operates on a 7:50 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. schedule, which includes an seven period block schedule (7 classes one day, 7 classes the next) and a staggered 4 shift lunch schedule. Additionally, a mentoring period is offered which allows students to work on homework.

There are four academies at the high school; School of Trade and Health Sciences, Academy of Arts and Communications, Academy of Public Service and the Ninth Grade Academy. Each career academy has teachers from different subjects, who combine their efforts as a means of integrating academic and technical curriculum. Students are able to participate in different academies each year, with the ultimate purpose of better preparing them for college and careers than traditional educational systems.[14]

Despite rapidly rising numbers of English as a Second Language students, Garden City High School has raised student achievement in reading, mathematics and science. Even with a more rigorous curriculum and higher graduation requirements, the dropout rate fell from 15 percent in 1993–1994 to 3.4 percent in 2003–2004 and the attendance rate rose from 89 percent to 96 percent.[6] In 2009, 18 students earned top rankings in the Spanish National Exams sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese.[15] In 2012, GCHS was selected as one of 314 Blue Ribbon Schools nationwide.[11][12]

Currently, Garden City requires students to complete 26½ credits in order to graduate.[16] Many students also attend classes at Garden City Community College.

School layout[edit]

Former high school[edit]

The previous high school consisted of several halls. The main hall was the longest hall in the school and consisted of several classrooms. It was attached to the main entrance on the west and met the trophy room on the east. The John D. Adams Vocational Technology building stood by itself next to the main building. There were two gymnasiums on campus. The main gym was often referred to as "The Garden" and accommodated approximately 2,000 people. There were also 8 trailers located on the north side of the school to help provide additional classrooms. These trailers were used largely for English and History classes.[1]

GCHS underwent a major remodeling project during the 2005–2006 school year. An open courtyard had previously existed in the central section of the school which had gone largely unused. School officials met and decided to enclose the courtyard and transform the space into a multi-purpose atrium tetrastylum. After nearly a year, construction was completed. The new multi-purpose area was used for additional seating during lunchtime, as well as conferences, banquets, and additional uses. The atrium featured a projection screen, a flat-screen HDTV, additional storage closets, a small elevated stage area, several unique design features, and additional entrances/exits to classrooms. The renovation was, however, largely regarded by students and residents of Garden City as a waste of resources, owing to the construction of the current high school. One of the main reasons for the enclosure of the courtyard was to provide adequate room for most of its students in a lunchroom of some sort. However, at the time, the high school espoused an open lunch policy, and consequently a majority of its close to 2,000 students left campus for lunch. Administrators responded to this in the 2007–2008 school year by closing lunch to freshmen, and the following year by closing lunch to sophomores who do not have special identification cards.

Current high school[edit]

Unlike the previous high school which covered 225,000 square feet, the current high school, located at 2720 Buffalo Way Boulevard is much larger, covering 384,000 square feet on 160 acres. The high school has 123 classrooms with the capacity of holding approximately 2,100 students. The building also has a 750-seat auditorium with a large amount of natural light. The football stadium seats 4,000 people and the gymnasium seats 2,500.

The building is subdivided into four learning academies at the high school; Academy of Trade and Health Science, Academy of Arts and Communications, Academy of Public Service and the Ninth Grade Academy. Each career academy has teachers from different subjects, who combine their efforts as a means of integrating academic and technical curriculum. Students are able to participate in different academies each year, with the ultimate purpose of better preparing them for college and careers than traditional educational systems.

Extracurricular activities[edit]

The extracurricular activities offered at Garden City High School are numerous and diverse due to the school's large size. The Buffaloes compete in the Western Athletic Conference and are classified as a 6A school, the largest classification in Kansas according to the Kansas State High School Activities Association. Throughout its history, Garden City has won twenty-two state championships in various sports and non-athletic activities. Many graduates have gone on to participate in collegiate athletics. Garden City High School athletes are able to compete in some of the top facilities in western Kansas. The football, soccer, and track & field teams compete at Buffalo Stadium. Basketball, intramural basketball, volleyball, and wrestling take place in "The Garden", Garden City's main gymnasium. The men's and women's golf programs compete at Buffalo Dunes Golf Course and The Golf Club at Southwind. The tennis programs compete at the GCHS Tennis Complex. The baseball program competes at Clint Lightner Stadium and the softball team at the James Tangeman Sports Complex. The swim team practices at the local YMCA. Drew Thon is the current athletic director.



The 2009 Buffaloes running out onto the field prior to a home game

The GCHS football team has consistently competed at a high level in football. Led by former head coach Dave Meadows, Garden City High School won the 6A state championship in football on November 20, 1999 over Olathe South High School.[17][18] The Buffaloes had previously finished runner-up in 1971, 1990, 1991 and 1998.[18][19]

In 2002, Mike Smith took over as head coach. Smith resigned in November 2009 and was replaced by Brian Hill. As of 2009, Garden City has been WAC champion five times, district champion thirteen times, and regional champion seven times.[19] The football program also has produced several notable collegiate and professional athletes including former NFL pro-bowler Fum McGraw. Each year, rivals Garden City High School and Dodge City High School play an annual football game known as the "Hatchet Game." The winning team receives a decorated hatchet with an engraving of the victorious team and the year. The first Hatchet Game was played in 1938 and has been played every year since.[20] During the 2007 Hatchet Game, junior quarterback Brodrick Smith set the school record when he rushed for 347 yards in a 42-28 win.[21] As of the 2013 season, Garden City High School has won the "Hatchet" for 15 of the past 20 seasons. In 2012, USA Today voted the Hatchet Game as the "Greatest Rivalry in Kansas".[20][22]

Garden City has seen several improvements in its football facilities in recent years. FieldTurf was installed in the summer of 2004 to better accommodate the multiple uses of the field. Additionally, the visitor stands were greatly expanded in the summer of 2008 to accommodate visiting fans. A second pressbox was also installed to provide more accessibility for coaches and coordinators during games. The new Buffalo Stadium was part of the $92 million bond issue for the current high school.


Another program at Garden City High School is the men's basketball program. The Buffaloes won the state championship in 1966 and were sub-state champions in 2003.[23] The men's basketball team has featured several notable alumni including former Texas Longhorns' all-time leading free-throw shooter, Brandy Perryman.[24][25][26] On March 10, 2010, former head coach Jeff Tanner resigned after 12 years as head boys' basketball coach.[27] Former Iowa State point guard Jacy Holloway took over as head coach of the boys' basketball team.[28]


The most successful and storied athletic program at GCHS is wrestling. Since Garden City High School was established, it has won eleven state championships in wrestling, occurring in 1971, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1998, 1999, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 (and runner-up in 2003).[29][30] Garden City wrestling has also had 26 individual state champions.[31] In 1979, two-time state champion Jon Bigler was named as an Honorable Mention All-American according to Wrestling USA Magazine.[32]

Due to the immense success between 1990–1993, GCHS earned national rankings and a reputation as having one of the finest wrestling programs in the country. Additionally, Wrestling USA Magazine ranked Garden City as having the 38th best high school wrestling dynasty in the 1990s out of over 38,000 high schools.[33] The success of the wrestling program during this time was due in large part to the leadership of legendary former head coach Rocky Welton. Overall, Welton led the wrestling program to six state championships and helped produce numerous individual state champions. Welton finished his coaching career with a dual record of 200-50-4 during his tenure at Goodland High School and Garden City High School. For his contributions, Rocky Welton was inducted into the Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum.[34][35] Since its inception in 1951, the wrestling program has hosted an annual tournament which attracts some of the top wrestling programs from the midwestern United States. Originally known as the "Garden City Invitational", the tournament was renamed the "Rocky Welton Invitational" in honor of the legendary coach.[36]

Following the retirement of Rocky Welton in 1999, former assistant coach Martin Segovia took over as the new head coach. In contrast to the 1990s, Garden City was unable to win a state championship throughout the 2000s, although the Buffaloes did produce three individual state titles and an All-American. Jason Nichols won individual state championships in 2000 and 2001 and sophomore Ryan Kromer won an individual state championship in 2002. In 2006, Beth Johnson was named a Second-Team All-American and in 2008, she was named as a First-Team All-American, the first girl to do so in school history.[37][38] Also in 2008, Martin Segovia relinquished his role as head coach and former assistant Monte Moser took over as the new head coach.[39] In 2010, the Buffaloes placed fourth in the state championship, while producing two individual state champions in Lane Greenlee and Joey Dozier.[31][40] One year later, Anthony Calderon won an individual state championship. Following the 2012 season, Monte Moser retired and Carlos Prieto became the current head coach. In 2013, the Buffaloes won the state championship for the first time since 1999, and repeated in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Also in 2016, Michael Prieto won his fourth consecutive individual state title, the first 4-time individual state champion in school history and 33rd in state history.


The 2007 golf team after placing 2nd at the regional tournament in Garden City, qualifying the team for the state championship

The men's golf program has established itself as one of the top athletic programs at GCHS. The Buffaloes won state championships in 1977 and 1998. The 1998 championship team was led by coach Mike Adams and players: Sean Villareal, Chris Becker, Dan Dreiling, Adam Fuller, Ryan Berry, and Kirby Schimke. Cole Wasinger won an individual state championship in 1995.[41] More recently, the men's golf team competed at the state tournament in 2014. In 2011, MacKenzie Thayer became the first female state champion in school history after shooting an 81 and winning in a playoff. The Buffs compete on two of the top golf courses in the state of Kansas. The golf teams alternate their practices between The Golf Club at Southwind and Buffalo Dunes Golf Course.


The men's and women's tennis programs have also had many successful years. The programs have remained as two of the more competitive tennis teams in the WAC for several decades. The women's program experienced their most successful season in 1994 in which they finished state runner-up. The men's program won 10 consecutive WAC championships from 1994 to 2003. In 1999, former head coach Bob Krug was named NFCA Midwest Region Coach of the Year.[42] The streak in WAC Championships ended during the 2003–04 school year, but the Buffs rebounded and won three more consecutive WAC championships from 2005 to 2007. The Buffs added WAC Championship titles in 2011 and 2014.[43] The tennis program has sent numerous players to the state tournament throughout the program's history.

Track and Field[edit]

The Buffalo track and field program has had several successes throughout its history. The Buffaloes won the state championship in 1945 and 1946,[1] but in more recent years results have been variable. In 2003, Eric Babb won the long jump state title for the first time in the school's history.[44] The track & field program finished runner-up in the 2006 state championship, falling to Lawrence High School by 1/2 of a point. Garden City has also produced several notable athletes, including 1995 Kansas Track and Field Gatorade Athlete of the Year, high-jumper Jason Archibald.[45]

State championships[edit]

State Championships[46]
Season Sport/Activity Number of Championships Year
Fall Football 1 1999
Debate 4 1959, 1961, 1962, 1971
Winter Wrestling 11 1971, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1998, 1999, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
Basketball, Boys' 1 1966
Spring Golf, Boys' 2 1977, 1998
Track and Field, Boys' 2 1945, 1946
Forensics 1 2011
Total 22


  • Football
  • Volleyball
  • Boys' Cross-Country
  • Girls' Cross-Country
  • Girls' Golf
  • Boys' Soccer
  • Girls' Tennis
  • Cheerleading


  • Boys' Basketball
  • Girls' Basketball
  • Wrestling
  • Boys' Bowling
  • Girls' Bowling
  • Winter Cheerleading


  • Baseball
  • Boys' Golf
  • Boys' Tennis
  • Girls' Soccer
  • Girls' Swimming
  • Softball
  • Boys' Track and Field
  • Girls' Track and Field

Non-athletic programs[edit]


Garden City High School offers many music-related clubs and organizations. Garden City offers marching band, pep band, orchestra, choir, and show choir in addition to many other groups. The Garden City Municipal Band rehearses at the former Garden City High School building (Now Horace Good Middle School) once a week during the summer months.[47]


The first unofficial band was organized in 1915. The Garden City Marching Band is often referred to as the "Marching Stampede". Each year, the marching band performs during halftime of football games and the pep band plays during basketball games. Additionally, throughout the football season, the marching band competes in the WAC Band Festival to determine the top marching band in the area, the Andover Marching Festival, and the Kansas State University Marching Festival.[48] The band also performs during pep rallies and other school functions.

Debate and Forensics[edit]

The Garden City High debate and forensics teams have been ranked among the top schools in the nation in terms of state appearances by the National Forensics League. Garden City High has competed at the state level in all of the NFL events and at the national level in many of the events. It is one of the largest teams by members in the state. The debate team won the state championship in 1959, 1961, 1962, and 1971 (two-speaker). The forensics team won the state championship in 2011.[49] Russ Tidwell is the current debate and forensics coach at Garden City High School.[1]

Student newspaper and yearbook[edit]

The journalism department at GCHS is a member of the Kansas Scholastic Press Association. Established in 1910, the school newspaper, The Sugar Beet, is the oldest high school newspaper in the state of Kansas. The Sugar Beet is a frequent Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Medal winner and has also won the First-Place Award issued by the American Scholastic Press Association. The Sugar Beet is one of only two weekly, student-produced high school newspapers in Kansas, the other being The Mentor, which is produced by students of Manhattan High School. GCHS also produces an annual yearbook at the end of every school year, known as The Buffalo.

Student activities[edit]


There are numerous extracurricular activities available to Garden City students. Among these are:

  • Academic Decathlon
  • Anime Club
  • Art Club
  • Astronomy Club
  • Asian Club
  • Ballet Folklorico Club
  • BBS-TV
  • Book Club
  • Career Technical Instruction Club
  • Chess Club
  • Chinese Club
  • Color Guard
  • Computer Club
  • Cultural Club
  • Dance Team
  • Debate Team
  • Drama Club
  • Drill Team
  • Economics Challenge
  • FCCLA (Future Career and Community Leaders of America)
  • Forensics
  • FFA (Future Farmers of America)
  • French Club
  • Gospel Choir
  • HOSA (Health Occupation Students of America)
  • InterACT
  • International Thespian Society
  • Japanese Club
  • JETS Club
  • Key Club
  • La Familia Club
  • Latin Club
  • Math Team
  • Mock Trials
  • Model UN
  • Modern Show Choir
  • National Honor Society
  • Orchestra
  • Pep Band
  • Quiz Bowl (Academic Team)
  • Robotics (GCHS Buff Robotics)
  • Science Club
  • Science Olympiad
  • Spanish Club
  • Spanish National Honor Society
  • Student Council
  • Sugar Beet
  • Yearbook

Notable alumni[edit]


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  57. ^ Fred Myton on IMDb
  58. ^ Hal Patterson
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  60. ^ "Larry Powell". Archived from the original (English) on 2010-08-12. Retrieved 2010-07-20. 
  61. ^ "Office of Mayor Chuck Reed". Archived from the original (English) on 2008-07-24. Retrieved 2008-07-24. 
  62. ^ "Roy Romer" (English). Retrieved 2008-07-24. 
  63. ^ "Better Know An Umpire: Todd Tichenor" (English). Retrieved 2014-06-27. 
  64. ^ Lutz, Bob. "Bob Lutz: Garden City umpire gets the call to make the calls". The Wichita Eagle. Retrieved 27 June 2014. 

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