Grosse Pointe South High School

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Grosse Pointe South High School
11 Grosse Pointe Boulevard
Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan 48236-3771
United States
Coordinates 42°23′27″N 82°54′09″W / 42.3908°N 82.9026°W / 42.3908; -82.9026
Type Public High School
Established 1927 (1927)
Opened 1928 (1928)
School district Grosse Pointe Public Schools
School code 231-802
Principal Moussa Hamka
Grades 9-12
Gender Co-ed
Enrollment 1684
Campus Suburban
Color(s) Navy Blue and Gold         
Song The Alma Mater:[1]
Athletics conference Macomb Area Conference
Mascot Blue Devil Large Blue Devil.jpg
Team name Blue Devils
Rival Grosse Pointe North Norsemen
Accreditation North Central Association
Michigan EdYes!
Publication The Looking Glass
(literary magazine)
Newspaper The Tower
Yearbook Viewpointe
Feeder schools Pierce Middle School,
Brownell Middle School
Logo GP Logo
Grosse Pointe High School
Grosse Pointe South High School is located in Michigan
Grosse Pointe South High School
Grosse Pointe South High School is located in the US
Grosse Pointe South High School
Location Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan
Coordinates 42°23′27″N 82°54′09″W / 42.3908°N 82.9026°W / 42.3908; -82.9026Coordinates: 42°23′27″N 82°54′09″W / 42.3908°N 82.9026°W / 42.3908; -82.9026
Built 1927
Architect Haas, George J.; Carl S. Barry Co.
Architectural style Colonial Revival
NRHP reference # 93000429[2]
Added to NRHP May 20, 1993

Grosse Pointe South High School (GPS), commonly called South, is one of two public high schools located in the Grosse Pointes, suburban cities adjacent to Detroit, Michigan. At the corner of Fisher Road and Grosse Pointe Blvd. in Grosse Pointe Farms, it is a part of the Grosse Pointe Public School System (GPPSS).

Grosse Pointe High School, the first public high school in the area, opened its doors in 1928. It became Grosse Pointe South High School in 1967 when the board of education created Grosse Pointe North High School. In 1993, Grosse Pointe South was added to the National Register of Historic Places for its significance in architecture, art, and education. The school anchors one of Grosse Pointe's most historically significant neighborhoods, known as the Beverly Road Historic District. Grosse Pointe Memorial Church, Christ Church Grosse Pointe, and Père Gabriel Richard Elementary School (all on the National Register of Historic Places) are within two blocks of Grosse Pointe South.


Grosse Pointe High School[edit]

The construction of The Grosse Pointe High School in 1928 marked an important transition in the history of this area along the shores of Lake St. Clair. Grosse Pointe's move away from its farming roots began after the American Civil War, when wealthy Detroit businessmen purchased much of the lakefront property for summer homes. By 1900, year-round mansions were rapidly replacing seasonal residences, and a sense of community began to form.

Reflecting many citizens' growing perception that Grosse Pointe was a real town, the need for a high school became a topic of debate in 1910. After a five-year battle with landowners reluctant to have their land condemned, the school district began construction of the area's first public high school in 1927. Many residents saw the construction as a symbol that Grosse Pointe completed its transition from resort to town and thus were willing to pay for one of the finest public school buildings in Michigan.

Grosse Pointe High School is designed in the Georgian revival colonial style with a 134-foot (41 m)-tall clock tower that dominates the facade. The interior is similarly impressive with the original structure containing five libraries, two gyms, an auditorium, and a swimming pool, amenities some thought too luxurious. Tennessee marble and Pewabic tiles were used extensively. During the Great Depression, the interior received a beautiful series of WPA-funded murals and the area's growing population led to additions in the 1940s and 1950s.

In 1930, student enrollment hit 1,340, just 35 less than capacity. Some of the 1,300 students had to stand along the walls in order to fit the entire student body into the boys' gym for an assembly. Since it was designed to hold 1,100, 1,340 taxed the gym's facilities.

To make room for students, board of education offices returned to Cadieux Elementary School where they remain today. Student and faculty sizes have varied, but the building always ranged from packed to comfortably full.

During construction, the over 10-story tall, 107-foot (33 m)-high boiler room smokestack was the tallest structure in Grosse Pointe. The 134-foot (41 m)-tall clock tower that has become the symbol of Grosse Pointe High was finished three months after the smokestack.

World War II's colossal expansion of America's industries triggered the 1942 addition of a two-story industrial arts building.

In April 1953, the main gym, that included a stage for large assemblies, was completed. For the students' evening dedication ceremonies, Board of Education member and travel agent Chet Sampson achieved a public relations coup when he arranged the appearance of newly married, romantic idols of America, Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher.

The rear wing of the school was filled with ninth graders in the fall of 1955. The annex was linked to the main building with a roofed-only walkway that was called the breezeway or freezeway depending upon the weather.

In February 1961, work began to add a third floor to the industrial arts building. In March, the board of education also authorized construction of a second-story bridge to the main building to give easier access to the new third floor. In the fall of 1961, just nine months after construction began, students were crossing the bridge and attending math classes in the new third floor.

The octagonal Wicking Library was completed and occupied for school during the fall of 1964, ending Cleminson Hall's reign as the school's reference site. A brick and steel breezeway that joined the main building to the annex crossed its front.

Grosse Pointe South High School[edit]

By September 1964, it became obvious that the Grosse Pointes were in need of a new high school. The board of education purchased the 31.7-acre (128,000 m2) Vanderbush Farm, the sole remaining such parcel in Grosse Pointe Woods, and built Grosse Pointe North High School, which opened in the fall of 1968. This ended the 40-year reign of this building as the only public high school in Grosse Pointe. The school was renamed Grosse Pointe South High School and became a four-year high school as it remains today.

At that time, the Wicking Library was the school's newest wing. The library in the parking lot did not satisfy educators who thought that a library could be the center of instructional activity. In addition, many classrooms in the school needed upgrading and the music facilities were poor. The plan to solve these problems showed a small addition on the left, a new hallway across the rear of the plant, and rooms surrounding the library. The music department would get two big practice rooms and a classroom. A large two-story structure was planned to surround the library. When the plans were revealed, everyone was happy that the definitely modern building would be around the corner from the traditional Georgian Facade. In September 1973, the new wing was completed. South now had first-class science labs and social studies classrooms, appropriately naming the new addition the “S-Building.” In addition to the new classrooms, South gained a new 116-seat lecture hall.

In the late 1970s, a series of articles appeared in the school's student newspaper The Tower, detailing significant safety and space issues within what was then known as the IA (Industrial Arts) Building. Much debate over the conditions (and need for expansion) in the 1930s-era wing ensued between the cost-conscious GPPS Board and concerned parents and teachers. The School Board ultimately agreed that major improvements were necessary. An area with tennis courts was selected for the expansion, which were later replaced on top of the industrial technology shops. The top floor of math rooms was unchanged. A modern photography classroom and lab sat next to a new drafting room, while two modernized art rooms provided general and commercial art classes with fine homes. The first floor featured a fine drawing and painting studio, a superlative ceramics, sculpture, and metals laboratory, and an art appreciation lecture classroom. The industrial technology department started in earnest in the remodeled basement. The sprawling underground addition started with the parking and outdoor service area of the four-bay automotive shop backed up by a sophisticated wood and metal shop and a TV studio.

The cinder track of the football field did not meet the needs of the expanded athletic programs that came as the nation discovered jogging and the track and field events. A major project modified this, providing an all-weather track. That same all-weather track could not be walked upon with high heels, and since 1969, South had been seating a thousand parents on the cinder track for its outdoor graduations.

With the help of the internationally famous George P. Johnson display company, this ceremony moved to the front lawn in 1980. The artists from George P. Johnson Co. also reworked the school seal for the speaker's podium, giving the school a modern version for all purposes.

In 2003, Grosse Pointe South celebrated its 75th Anniversary with a series of commemorative events and guest speakers.

Recent Renovations[edit]

The John and Marlene Boll Athletic Center (Looking North)
Boll Athletic Center (Looking East)

Over the past few years, the school has undergone a number of major renovations and additions. In 2004, the renovation of the school's auditorium was completed, allowing seating for 400 students. In 2005, the so-called "New S-Building" was completed to add a large number of science classrooms. Renovations in 2006 have been completed, as the original S-Building received a face lift to upgrade its outdated facilities and small classrooms.

In September 2008, South completed construction of the new John and Marlene Boll Athletic Center facing Fisher Road, in place of the old Comtec and tennis courts. The facility includes a new 12-lane competition pool with seating for 400+, locker rooms, a field gymnasium, a new fitness facility, a conference room, athletic offices, and multipurpose space. The design of the new building mimics the Georgian style of the 1928 main building.

The original natatorium was renovated to serve as a student commons, complete with skylights and an imprint of the old pool on the floor. South celebrates its history by lining the walls of the student commons with photos of former South students throughout the decades. Adjacent to the old pool, the original boys gymnasium was converted into a multi-purpose fine arts performance facility. The old pool locker rooms serve as a school store and dressing rooms.

Communities served and feeder patterns[edit]

The school serves the following municipalities:[3] almost all of Grosse Pointe Farms,[4] and all of Grosse Pointe (city) and Grosse Pointe Park.[5][6]

Elementary schools feeding into GPSHS include all of the zones of Defer, Kerby, Maire, Père Gabriel Richard, and Trombly. All of the boundary of Pierce Middle School and most of the boundary of Brownell Middle School coincides with that of GPSHS.[3]


South has an ongoing tradition of excellence,[who?] shown by organizations like The Tower (award-winning[which?] student newspaper), The Viewpointe (yearbook) and The Looking Glass (literary magazine). In 2007, five South students received the National Merit National Scholar award, including one Junior. South students also perform well in the National Merit Scholarship competition (12 Finalists from the class of 2007, 8 from the class of 2008). In 2009, Grosse Pointe South ranked in the top 2% of High Schools-Nationwide.[7] By 2010, Newsweek posted that Grosse Pointe South High School ranked 920 (fifth in Michigan) and Grosse Pointe North High School was 899th (4th in Michigan).[8]

Extracurricular activities[edit]


Grosse Pointe South athletic field.

As of 2010, the school offers 15 varsity sports teams for boys and 18 varsity sports teams for girls. These sports include baseball, basketball, competitive cheer, crew, cross country, field hockey, figure skating, football, golf, gymnastics, ice hockey, lacrosse, sailing, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, synchronized swimming, tennis, track and field, volleyball, and wrestling. Grosse Pointe South competes in the Macomb Area Conference (MAC), under the regulation of the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA).


The Grosse Pointe South baseball team in 2004

The baseball team won the Michigan Division 1 state title in 2001 and 2018.

Swimming and Diving[edit]

The seniors of 2010 celebrate their second-place finish at the 2010 MHSAA division 2 swimming & diving championships.

The boys' swimming and diving team has a long history of success, winning state championships in 1960, 1962, and 1968. They have won every MAC Red Division Championship meet since 1999, continuing to the present day and most recently in 2018.


The boys' tennis team won the class A state championship in 1945 and 1946 and tied with Monroe High School in 1947.[9] The girls' tennis team won the state championship every year from 1976 to 1986 (Tying in 1976,1977,1982 and 1985), 2008, 2012, and 2014.[10]

Other Sports[edit]

Other State Championships[11]
Year Sport Result Division
1962 Boys' Track and Field Champion Class A
2001 Baseball Champion Division 1
2005 Girls' Lacrosse Champion Division 1
2006 Girls' Lacrosse Champion Division 1
2007 Boys' Ice Hockey Champion Division 2
2009 Girls' Ice Hockey Champion Division 1
2011 Girls' Ice Hockey Champion Division 1
2011 Girls Cross Country Champion Division 1
2011 Girls Track and Field Champion Division 1
2012 Girls Track and Field Champion Division 1
2013 Girls Track and Field Champion Division 1
2015 Girls' Ice Hockey Champion Division 1


Under the direction of Ellen J. Skinner- Bowen from 1986-2012: South was consistently named one of the top show choirs in the nation.(Showstoppers Grand champion 1997, 1998, 1999 Newsweek rating of showchoirs 2011 USA Today named Les Misérables Michigan Best Musical and Nationally Honor Musical 2009). They have won Showstoppers, a national show choir competition, as well as hosting the competition three times as the Honor Choir(Showstoppers 2001, 2003, 2007). In addition, the choir has had several international performances including singing mass at St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City (Music Celebrations). In 2008, the choir traveled to Spain where they visited Barcelona, Valencia, Madrid and Segovia. The choir performed a show choir show and a classical concerts (Music Celebrations). The choir also sang a high mass at the Barcelona Cathedral. In 2010, the Choir traveled to Greece and Crete where they were the featured performers for Athens' Carnival, did an exchange performance with the Athens School for Performing Arts and the Crete University Arts Series. While in Greece, the South Choir performed a fund raiser for the children of Greece food bank. The South choirs, under the direction of Ellen J. Bowen, performed 64 performances with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for its 1994-2009 Holiday Pops concerts. They have also performed with the Detroit Chamber Winds professional ensemble at Christ Church, Grosse Pointe. The South choir is also well known for its productions of the "All School Musical" which annually takes place in April and May of the school year. The 2012 production will be Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Phantom of the Opera" which will take place the last week of April and the first week of May 2012. In 2010-2011 and 2009-2010, The Pointe Singers were named by the Michigan School Vocal Music Association as State finalists in the Small Ensemble Division(MSVMA). Five composers from the Music Technology Lab were awarded outstanding composers in the State of Michigan and were featured at the Michigan Youth Arts Festival held every May on the Western Michigan Campus, Kalazamoo (MMEA). There are over 180 students enrolled in the South Choirs for 2011-2012 (Counseling Dept GPS). Accompanist have been Jeff Bruning, Ben Prince and for the past ten years Richard Wolf.

The Tower newspaper[edit]

Grosse Pointe South has a weekly student newspaper that is as old as the school itself. The Tower has been winning awards as a top newspaper at the state and national level for decades, with many of its writers garnering individual awards at different levels each year.

Mr. Robert Button, who taught journalism and supervised the paper for over two decades, was inducted into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame in 1989.[12]

The Tower has its own two-room office and classroom at the front of the old building. Recently the Tower room had ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Ronald Bates memorial telecommunications center, named after the deceased former Student Association president.

The newspaper was close to being featured on the MTV show "The Paper," but the show was canceled. A film crew came in from MTV Studios and spent a long weekend with the staff, and filmed events like the Editor-in-Chief announcement.

The Tower's current adviser has had several students, hundreds collectively in past years, who have won several awards, including Michigan Interscholastic Press Association (MIPA) Sparty awards and Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA) Gold and Silver Crown awards.

Pointe Players[edit]

Pointe Players is Grosse Pointe South's student theater organization. It is Troupe #49 of the International Thespian Society. It is also among the five oldest clubs at South, as it was started in 1929.

The group produces one main stage play each Fall. Recent productions have included Daniel J. Sullivan's Inspecting Carol, Christopher Sergel's adaptation of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, John Van Druten's I Remember Mama, Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest and Eugene O'Neill's Ah, Wilderness! In 2008, the 'Players' performed Moises Kaufman's The Laramie Project, a controversial play about the murder of gay University of Wyoming student, Matthew Shepard. The Laramie Project was selected as one of five mainstage shows at the 2008 Michigan Thespian Festival at Michigan State University, and the Players were invited to attend the International Thespian Festival, but did not attend due to lack of funds, and because "The Laramie Project" is geared toward a small stage. The Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, an anti-gay organization, sent three protesters to picket outside the building just as students were released on Friday, November 21 (Opening night). Students and staff were featured in The Detroit News on November 4, 2008 and The Detroit Free Press and on Channel 4 News (WDIV) on November 5, 2008 as soon as the church group announced their plans to protest. Because of the extensive media attention and community interest, the 'players' performed all shows to sold out audiences — a first in the history of the club.

In recent years, small groups of junior and senior thespians have mounted independent fund-raiser shows. In the spring, seniors with the most "thespian points" are chosen to cast and direct a one-act play.

The Sun Devils Solar Car Team[edit]

‘’’The South Sun Devils’’’ is the Solar Car Team, competing since 2013 in the Solar Car Challenge in Dallas, Texas. The team, fundraised, designed, built, and raced their street legal car on the Dallas Motor Speedway followed by a road test challenge.,[13][14]

Notable alumni[edit]


Grosse Pointe South hosted a landmark speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on March 14, 1968, when 2,700 people gathered in the gymnasium to hear a speech entitled "The Other America", just three weeks before his assassination.[15] Dr. King had already visited Detroit and led a march in the city of Detroit where he gave an early version of his "I Have a Dream" speech.

Former Pennsylvania Senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum spoke at Grosse Pointe South on April 24, 2013.


  1. ^ "Information". Grosse Pointe South High School Website. Archived from the original on February 16, 2010. Retrieved March 25, 2010.
  2. ^ National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  3. ^ a b "District Map." Grosse Pointe Public School System. Retrieved on January 8, 2017.
  4. ^ "Zoning Map." City of Grosse Pointe Farms. Retrieved on January 8, 2017.
  5. ^ "Zoning Map." Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan. Retrieved on January 8, 2017.
  6. ^ "Zoning Map." Grosse Pointe, Michigan. Retrieved on January 8, 2017.
  7. ^ America's Top Public High Schools 2008 - Newsweek and The Daily Beast
  8. ^ "America's Best High Schools: The List". Newsweek. June 13, 2010. Retrieved January 27, 2012.
  9. ^ "Boys' Tennis Team Champions". Michigan High School Athletic Association. Retrieved March 21, 2010.
  10. ^ "Girls' Tennis Team Champions". Michigan High School Athletic Association. Retrieved March 21, 2010.
  11. ^ "Sports". Michigan High School Athletic Association. Retrieved March 23, 2010.
  12. ^ "Robert Lockwood Button (1989)". Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on May 16, 2008. Retrieved March 29, 2010.
  13. ^ "Grosse Pointe South Sundevils". Grosse Pointe South Sundevils. Retrieved July 16, 2015.
  14. ^ "Solar Car Challenge - SolarCarChallenge - High School Solar". Retrieved July 16, 2015.
  15. ^ "The Other America". Grosse Pointe Historical Society. Retrieved March 23, 2010.
  • Hill, Eric J.; John Gallagher (2002). AIA Detroit: The American Institute of Architects Guide to Detroit Architecture. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-3120-3.
  • Meyer, Katherine Mattingly and Martin C.P. McElroy with Introduction by W. Hawkins Ferry, Hon A.I.A. (1980). Detroit Architecture A.I.A. Guide Revised Edition. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-1651-4.
  • Socia, Madeleine; Suzie Berschback (2001). Grosse Pointe: 1890 - 1930 (Images of America). Arcadia. ISBN 0-7385-0840-3.
  • "Grosse Pointe High School". National Park Service. Retrieved March 11, 2007.

External links[edit]