Iowa City High School

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Iowa City High School
City high iowa city 2.jpg
1900 Morningside Drive

Coordinates41°39′36″N 91°30′25″W / 41.660°N 91.507°W / 41.660; -91.507Coordinates: 41°39′36″N 91°30′25″W / 41.660°N 91.507°W / 41.660; -91.507
MottoThe School That Leads
School districtIowa City Community School District
PrincipalJohn Bacon
Staff94.82 (FTE)[1]
Number of students1,566 (2019-20)[1]
Student to teacher ratio16.52[1]
Color(s)Red and White    
Team nameLittle Hawks
AffiliationMississippi Valley Conference

Iowa City High School is a public high school in Iowa City, Iowa and is part of the Iowa City Community School District. The present high school was completed as part of the Public Works Projects started by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to provide jobs. The first classes were held in the fall of 1939.[2] The previous high school building, built in 1909, was converted to a junior high school after the new building opened.[3]: 160  It was located where Mercy Medical Plaza now stands. The current building sits on a hill on the east side of Iowa City. The school motto is "The School that Leads."


Iowa City has had public education called "high school" at least as far back as 1858, when M.B. Beals was hired as principal; though Beals' records do not show where classes were held, there were 35 boys and 35 girls attending in 1860.[3]: 161  Buildings that held "high school", which included junior high school, included the Grammar School, built in 1893[3]: 160  on the southwest corner of the Centre Market block;[3]: 159  and the 1903 Iowa City High School on the northeast corner of the same block.[3]: 160  A gymnasium in the northwest corner of the block was built in 1911, and included a swimming pool earlier than the university had its own pool.[3]: 160  The 1903 building's last high school graduating class was 1939, and the building was renamed Central Junior High School when the new City High School opened in 1939.[3]: 160 

City High, Iowa City

City High School was built through the Public Works Projects, one of many other programs formed in Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal package. City High would become the second high school to be built in Iowa City, as the older one was becoming overcrowded as the population of the city increased. To determine the new location of the school, Iowa City residents had to vote whether to build the school in a central location, closer to the existing high school, or in a Morningside location, which was the name of the street which it would be built by, out of town on the city's east side. The Morningside location was favored, and the school was built on top of a large hill outside of town. Over time, the city's suburban expansion reached the school, enclosed it, and the expanded past it. Now, the school is contained entirely by Iowa City's east side.


After graduation, 70% of City High graduates continue their education. Sixty percent attend four-year colleges, 5% junior or community colleges, and 5% trade and technical schools.[4] City High ranks in the top ten schools for academic performance in Iowa.[5]


City High has a storied history in track and cross country. Together, the track and cross country programs have combined for 38 state titles and at least 10 runner-up finishes since 1989.[6]

The Mittman’s women’s XC team logged state championship wins in 1999, 2002, 2003, 2005, and 2006. In 2006 the women’s team drew national attention with their ranking as the 13th best XC program in the country. This earned the Little Hawk women a Nike Team Nationals bid (renamed in 2008 as Nike Cross Nationals) during the same year.[citation needed]

The strong cross country program served as the basis for the boys' track & field team run to 11 state team titles in class 4A between the years of 1992 and 2004. Coach John Raffensperger was head coach for 10 of the 11 state titles, being the only coach in Iowa to win 10 state titles. Raffensperger was also awarded National coach of the year.[citation needed]

Sports Illustrated named City High the top sports school in the state of Iowa, citing the school's dominant cross country, track, and football teams.[7] The boys' and girls' cross country teams have won more than 20 state championships since 1990.[8] State titles for Boys' Cross Country include titles from 1991-'94 and in '96, '97, '99, and 2000.[8]

Other sports that have won state titles since 1989 include Girls' Volleyball (1998, 2007),[9] Football (1993, 1994, 1996, 2009),[10] Boys' Basketball (1989, 2008),[11] Girls' Basketball (2008),[citation needed] Wrestling (1992, 1999, 2002),[12] Boys' Tennis (1999)[citation needed] and numerous Boys' and Girls' Track state titles.[13]

Performing arts[edit]

City High puts on two theatrical shows a year in the state of the art Iver A. Opstad Auditorium; a fall play and a spring musical. Recent productions include:[citation needed] 2008-2009 "Teahouse of the August Moon" and "Evita"; 2009-2010 "Almost Maine" and "The Wizard of Oz"; 2010-2011 "The Odd Couple", "Fools", and "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying"; 2011-2012 "Peter Pan", "Crimes of the Heart", and "Chicago: The Musical"; 2017-2018 "Charlotte's Web" and "Little Shop of Horrors"; 2018-2019 "Laugh Out Loud, An Evening of Comedy", "Les Misérables", and "25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee"; 2019-2020 "A Christmas Carol" and "Matilda the Musical" (canceled due to COVID-19); 2020-2021 "Matilda the Musical"; 2021-2022 "Noises Off" and "Big Fish"

"Crimes of the Heart" was one of eight productions nationally to be selected to perform at the International Thespian Festival in June 2012.[citation needed]

City High's vocal department is strong. Select Women's Ensemble was selected to perform in Des Moines at the 2002 NACDA Convention and in Omaha at the 2006 NACDA convention. Chamber Choir was selected to perform in Sioux Falls at the 2004 NACDA Convention. The Concert Choir has been honored to be the recipient of several commissioned works from world-renowned composers. Eric Barnum composed "Fair Ines" for the 2011 Concert Choir. Philip Lawson arranged and recently published "The William Tell Overture" for the 2009 Concert Choir. Most notably, in 2001, Moses Hogan arranged and published one of his finest works, "Ezekiel Saw de Wheel", dedicating it to Dr. Grove and the 2001 concert choir.[citation needed]

Fourth Avenue Jazz Company (commonly referred to as 4th Ave) is City High's premiere show choir. 4th Ave has won grand championships in the following years: '88, '89, '93, 94, '95, '02, '03, '04, '11, '13, '14.[citation needed]

City High has been named a Signature School by the Grammy Foundation three times. (2000, 2001, and 2004). City High is one of only three schools nationwide to accomplish this. In 2004, Dr. Greg Grove (former choir director) and Bill Pringle (former band director) were flown to Washington D.C. for a congratulatory event by the Grammy Foundation.[14]

City High Also has an impressive band program most recently winning first place at the Muskie Marching Invitational in 2021 and winning best Drumline, led by center snare Adam Bywater.


City High is home to three student publications, The Little Hawk (newspaper), The City Review (literary and art magazine) and Red and White (yearbook).

Both "The Little Hawk" and the "Red and White" are in the NSPA Hall of Fame.

The Little Hawk, a monthly newspaper, has earned twelve National Pacemaker Awards (1989—95, 97–2000, 2012), more than any other high school student newspaper in the country. "The Red and White" has won one National Pacemaker Award (1996).[15]

"The Little Hawk" has won the NSPA Best of Show at the National Conference eleven times (1989–95, 97–99, 2012).

"The Little Hawk" and the "Red and White" were advised by Jack Kennedy from 1980 to 1999, and are currently advised by Jonathan Rogers. Kennedy was named the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund Journalism Teacher of the Year in 1993 and inducted to the Iowa High School Press Association Hall of Fame in 1996.

The Little Hawk website ( earned Pacemaker finalist in 2011 and 2012. In November 2012, it received 5th Place Best of Show at the JEA/NSPA San Antonio National Journalism Conference.

"The Little Hawk" Newspaper was the first high school publication to create an app for smartphones. The app was developed by student Jonathan Myers.[16]

Notable alumni[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Iowa City High School". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved November 18, 2021.
  2. ^ "About City High Overview". Iowa City Schools. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Weber, Irving B. (1985). "Article 516". Historical Stories about Iowa City. Vol. 3. Iowa City, Iowa: Lions Club. pp. 157–162. Retrieved November 21, 2016. Book also known as volume 3 of Irving Weber's Iowa City. Reprinted from Weber, Irving B. (September 8, 1984). "A School Building at Every Corner of Old Centre Market". Iowa City Press-Citizen. Iowa City, Iowa. p. 4A.
  4. ^ City High School,[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ Ranking of High Schools in Iowa,
  6. ^ "Iowa City High Boy's Track & Field - Iowa High School Sports". Retrieved 2021-05-19.
  7. ^ Best by State: The top high school athletic programs in America -; accessed 9 March 2010
  8. ^ a b City High Cross Country, Archived 2009-12-14 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Iowa City High Volleyball - Iowa High School Sports". Retrieved 2021-05-19.
  10. ^ City High Football, Archived 2011-07-08 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ City High Basketball,
  12. ^ City High Wrestling,
  13. ^ City High Track, Archived 2009-04-16 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Welcome to GRAMMY In The Schools - GRAMMY Foundation Archived 2006-04-07 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ National Scholastic Press Association; List of past Pacemaker winners; accessed 13 July 2009 Archived 21 February 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ ""The App That Leads" – The Little Hawk Mobile now available on the Apple App Store". Retrieved 2012-09-03.
  17. ^ "State Representative". Retrieved 2015-12-15.
  18. ^ "Eddie Watt Statistics and History". Baseball Reference. Retrieved April 21, 2014.