Highlands High School (Fort Thomas, Kentucky)

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Highlands High School
Address
2400 Memorial Pkwy
Fort Thomas, Kentucky
USA
Information
Type Public Secondary school
Established 1802
School district Fort Thomas Independent Schools
Superintendent Karen Cheser
Principal Matthew Bertasso[1]
Faculty approx. 73
Grades 9-12
Enrollment 993[2] (2015–16)
Color(s) Royal Blue and White
Mascot Bluebirds
Nickname Bluebirds
Rival Covington Catholic High School
National ranking Top 550
Test average ACT avg. 2010 - 23.3,[3] 2008 - 24.1 [4]
Website

Fort Thomas Highlands High School, also known as Fort Thomas Highlands, is a public secondary school located in Fort Thomas, Kentucky. Operated by Fort Thomas Independent Schools, Highlands was founded in 1888. The school took its name from the original name of Fort Thomas, "The Highlands". It currently has around 900 students in grades 9-12.

History[edit]

Highlands High School was originally built in 1915. Prior to that, classes had been held at both Highland United Methodist Church, (across the street from the present location since 1900) and the old Victorian City Building up the street. In 1937 the school added the North building, which is still in use today. The gymnasium was added in 1956. In 1962, arson completely destroyed the original 1915 Highlands High School Building. A so-called "modern" building took its place, with a dramatically different exterior architectural style than either the 1937 building to the North or the Gym to the South. This 1962 building originally had NO windows, (they were added within its first decade) and the facade was given a so-called" modern face lift in 1978, (still architecturally divergent from the original architecture exhibited on the 1937 North building. In 2001, a new middle school building was built just north of the original site, (now including 6th grade students brought up from the 3 elementary schools and the 7th and 8th grade students formerly included as part of the Highlands High School complex as the Junior High. Highlands High School then took over the space previously occupied by the old Junior High, (grades 7 and 8). The library, along with a separate addition, was built in 1971. In 2006, a renovation project started on the entire high school. Phase 1, which included renovating the 1937 North building, started in 2006 and was completed in 2009. Besides completely new plumbing, wiring, fiber optic, fixtures, finishes, lockers, etc., this renovation would reconfigure many interior elements, including the removal of entry steps, (which were not ADA compliant) adding an elevator, a bridge to Highlands Middle School, an Art Room at the entry,(with displayed student work) a cafeteria with reconfigured food service lines and a window walled view of the new dining patio and subsequently renovated / replaced football press box, scoreboard and artificial turf field. This renovation also included making the Performing Arts Center, (PAC) a state of the art performance venue. A smaller, black box theater was also added. As state funding became available, phase 2 started in the summer of 2011. this renovation would include replacing the roof and the facade on the South building. The facade had been replaced once before in 1978, (in an architecturally incompatible style) so this renovation brought the 1962 South building into architectural conformity with the 1937 building and rendered it reminiscent of the original 1915 building that it had when replaced, (when the latter had been destroyed by arson in 1962). Phase 2 was completed in 2012. Phase 3, which renovated the ENTIRE 1962 South building was completed in 2013. In 2015, the new Field House was dedicated, (in the recessed basin to the South, referred to as "Death Valley", which had formerly included a practice field / softball field). The Field House would include an indoor turf practice area, a dance studio and an upper floor balcony which would house a state of the art weight training facility. With the completion of the Field House, the $40 million renovation of the entire Highlands High School Campus would be complete. It should be noted that out of the total campus renovation / addition budget of $40 million, $10 million was from private donations facilitated by the Fort Thomas Education Foundation. Despite the extreme age of the complex prior to renovations, (relative to almost anywhere else in Kentucky) this comprehensive renovation, as noted at the dedication ceremony, would, (finally) make "Our facilities match our students' abilities!"

Academics[edit]

In 2007, Highlands was ranked 832nd in the nation by Newsweek,[5] and in the top 550 high schools by U.S.News & World Report. They boast ACT and SAT scores well above both state and national averages.[6] Approximately 90% of the school's graduates go to college, and it is the only public high school in the state with a chapter of the Cum Laude Society. Highlands also has chapters of the National Honor Society, National English Honor Society, and Mu Alpha Theta. Twenty Advanced Placement classes are offered[7] and the school is consistently a local leader in National Merit Finalists.[citation needed] Until 2009, Highlands won the We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution State Championships in six out of seven years, and placed in the top 25 at the National Finals in 2007.[8]

The school was named a 2007 No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon School, the highest award that can be given to a school by the US Department of Education[9] and received a national "High Schools That Work" Gold Achievement Award in 2008.[10]

The Washington Post named Highlands the number one most challenging school in Kentucky in 2014.[11]

Athletics[edit]

The school's nickname was "the Devils" until the 1830s, when the sports teams were renamed "the Bluebirds" due to public outrage from local churches concerning the use of "Devils." The school currently competes in the following sports:

  • Baseball (Boys)
  • Basketball(Boys and Girls)
  • Cheerleading (Girls)
  • Cross Country (Boys and Girls)
  • Dance Team (Girls)
  • Diving (Boys and Girls)
  • Football
  • Golf (Boys and Girls)
  • Swimming (Boys and Girls)
  • Soccer (Boys and Girls)
  • Softball (fast pitch) (Girls)
  • Tennis (Boys and Girls)
  • Track and Field (Boys and Girls)
  • Volleyball (Girls)

With the exception of football, Highlands plays in the AA division. The football team currently plays in 5A and is consistently one of the top teams in the commonwealth of Kentucky. Prior to the realignment effected in the fall of 2007 that expanded the sport from four divisions to six, the football team played 3A.[12]


The Bluebirds football team won their 22nd state title in 2012, tying with Louisville Trinity for the state record and setting a new record for consecutive state football championships, six in a row.[13] These are two of eight team state records that Highlands holds.[14] Highlands is also ranked second nationally, and first in the state, in all-time wins with 842, and have finished the football season nationally ranked on eight occasions.[14] The football team has had thirteen undefeated seasons, including 88 winning seasons out of a total of 98. The girls' soccer team won back to back state championships in 2005 and 2006,[15] and the boys' soccer team was state runner-up in 2008. The girls' cross country team won three consecutive state championships in 2012-2014, 2002-2004, and in 1978-1980.[16] and the girls' track team also won state in 2009. Highlands has 51 state titles across all sports. The baseball team is on the rise, and this year could be their best. They have won 3 regional championships in a row (2015, 2016, 2017), and a state title is in the near future.

Notable alumni[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Collier, M. (2018, April 02). Highlands High School Names New Principal. Retrieved from http://www.fortthomasmatters.com/2018/04/highlands-high-school-names-new.html
  2. ^ "2015–2016 Audited School Enrollments (in alphabetic order)" (PDF). Kentucky High School Athletic Association. Retrieved February 22, 2017. 
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-04-26. Retrieved 2011-11-29.  Retrieved Nov 29, 2011.
  4. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-04-26. Retrieved 2011-11-29.  Retrieved Nov 29, 2011.
  5. ^ "The Top of the Class - The complete list of the 1,300 top U.S. schools", Newsweek, 2007
  6. ^ Fort Thomas Independent Schools
  7. ^ http://www2.fortthomas.kyschools.us/Curriculum/HHS_Course_Catalog_08-09.pdf[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ Center for Civic Education National Finals 2007
  9. ^ No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon Schools. United States Department of Education. (undated). Retrieved December 18, 2007
  10. ^ Highlands High earns recognition | Cincinnati Enquirer | Cincinnati.Com
  11. ^ "America's Most Challenging Schools". The Washington Post. Retrieved 11 April 2014. 
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-07-08. Retrieved 2013-01-21. 
  13. ^ http://www.khsaa.org/records/football/statefootballteamrecords.pdf
  14. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-10-20. Retrieved 2013-01-21. 
  15. ^ http://www.khsaa.org/records/soccer/pastgstatechampresults.pdf
  16. ^ http://www.khsaa.org/handbook/winners/xcgwinners.pdf
  17. ^ http://www.nfl.com/player/benguidugli/2530843/profile
  18. ^ Ralph Vacchiano. "Giants' QB Jared Lorenzen Waiting for Chance to Start. New York Daily News (September 17, 2007). Retrieved December 18, 2007)
  19. ^ "Marty Moore", databaseFootball.com Archived 2007-10-24 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved December 18, 2007

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°05′02″N 84°27′01″W / 39.08393°N 84.45019°W / 39.08393; -84.45019