Milwaukee High School of the Arts

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Milwaukee High School of the Arts
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
United States
Type Public (magnet) secondary
Established 1895
Principal Barry Applewhite
Grades 9-12
Enrollment 856 (2008)
Color(s) Crimson and White

Established in 1895, Milwaukee High School of the Arts (MHSA), formerly West Division Sr. High School, is a high school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States. It is a part of the Milwaukee Public Schools system. It specializes in preparation for a profession in the arts.[1]

Students receive a minimum of two hours in arts study each day. Focus is given to creative outlets such as dance, writing, theater, technical theater, visual arts, and music. The school is open for audition to students from the Milwaukee metropolitan area.

In 2005, the MHSA Artvarks, their ComedySportz Improvisational High School League Team took home the State Championship.


West Division High School opened in 1895 in what was known as the "Plankinton library block" on Grand Avenue downtown, but a building was built to house the new school in 1896 between 22nd and 23rd Streets on what was then called Prairie Street. C. E. McLenagan was the first principal.[2] In 1958, the current structure was built, facing the original facility across what was by then called Highland Boulevard.

The Milwaukee Public Schools system began designating a number of specialty or magnet schools in 1976, hoping to retain white students in the face of white flight following court-ordered desegregation. West Division was designated to house the Law Specialty and Navy ROTC programs, until in 1984 the Milwaukee Board of School Directors moved those programs to Bay View High School and elected to transform West Division into an arts school.

General Douglas MacArthur[3] and actor Spencer Tracy[4] attended West Division High School before it was made a specialty arts school. Additionally, alumni Howard Stark, Donald Curtin, John Doehring, Jack Mead and Ray Phillips would play in the National Football League. More recently, actress Amy Pietz and Andrew Mrotek, former drummer for The Academy Is... attended MHSA, though not as a music major.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ A Brief History, Milwaukee High School of the Arts, retrieved September 7, 2006.
  2. ^ Watrous, Jerome A. Memoirs of Milwaukee County: From the Earliest Historical Times Down to the Present, Including a Genealogical and Biographical Record of Representative Families in Milwaukee County, Chicago: Western Historical Association, 1909; Volume 1, pp. 405, 414
  3. ^ MacArthur Square, Wisconsin Historical Marker text, retrieved April 16, 2010.
  4. ^ Spencer Tracy, NNDB, retrieved September 7, 2006.

External links[edit]