Naperville Central High School

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Naperville Central High School
440 W. Aurora Avenue


United States
Coordinates41°46′02″N 88°09′20″W / 41.7672°N 88.1556°W / 41.7672; -88.1556Coordinates: 41°46′02″N 88°09′20″W / 41.7672°N 88.1556°W / 41.7672; -88.1556
School typepublic secondary
Opened1863 (2011, current building with complete renovation and additions to the original structure)
School districtNaperville Comm. Unit S.D. 203
SuperintendentDan Bridges
PrincipalWilliam Wiesbrook[1]
Enrollment2,851 (2016-17)[3]
Average class size10[4]
School color(s)     red
Athletics conferenceDuPage Valley Conference
NewspaperThe Central Times[7]

Naperville Central High School (Naperville Central or NCHS) is a four-year public high school located in Naperville, Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago. The school, which enrolls students in grades nine through twelve, is a part of the Naperville Community Unit School District 203.

The school, notable for its strong academic standing and history of athletic accomplishments, has been ranked in the top 3% of high schools nationally by U.S. News & World Report. Several of NCHS's alumni are notable across a variety of fields, and the school is unique in that it is the only high school in the United States to have its own Ancient Egyptian mummy.


Illustration of the Naperville Central High School main entrance, as it has appeared from 1992 to 2010. The "Guidance Wing" (a 1992 addition) is to the left, and the exterior of the school's main library is to the right.The "Guidance Wing" was demolished in the summer of 2010 and the Library in spring 2011, to make way for the expansion of the "Three Story Wing"

The present NCHS structure is on Aurora Avenue just outside the downtown business district in Naperville. The building is within walking distance of the Naperville Riverwalk park/trail network, and is just north of Knoch Park and the Edward Hospital campus. The school is across the street from the historic Naper Settlement.

The oldest part of the current building, known by some as the "3-Story Wing," was constructed in 1950 and was dedicated in 1952. The previous building, which had housed the Naperville Community High School (also sometimes known as Naperville High School), was built in 1916 and stood on Washington Street, just east of the present location of Washington Junior High School. This same building was used as the original Washington Junior High School until it was replaced in 1977.

The current Naperville Central building has received building additions in 1955, 1963, 1968, 1987 1992 and 2009. For the 1992–93 school year, three projects in three independent locations added a Student Services wing in the northeast part of the building (demolished in the summer of 2010 to make way for an addition), an auditorium in the northwest part of the building and a natatorium in the southern part of the building. Prior additions included a field house and renovations to the student cafeteria area in the late 1980s, the current school library, and a large single-story classroom wing, known as the Flat Wing.

As of the 2004–05 academic year, this gives the building a size of 439,660 square feet (41,000 square meters), not including the use of eight mobile classrooms in two modular units. Additionally, the school is currently undergoing a massive renovation to completely restructure the "Three Story Wing". The entire inside of the "Flat Wing" is also undergoing a more minor renovation. This renovation includes the relocation of the library and the reconstruction of the administration. The only sections of the school that are not being modified at all are the Auditorium and Aquatics Center, part of the physical education's department. For more details, see the district's Building the Future Page.

There has been an increasing concern about the safety and reliability of Naperville Central. Complaints of asbestos, leaky roofs, and unorganized structure cause it to be the main focus of Naperville School District 203's "Facilities Task Force".[9] Renovations began during the 2008–09 school year after successful passage of a local referendum.

Plagiarism scandal[edit]

In 2008, principal Jim Caudill plagiarised a speech he gave to graduating seniors.[10] The speech originally came from Megan Nowicki-Plackett, a former student of Naperville Central.[11] Earlier in the year, Caudill had fired a newspaper adviser earlier over profanity, which began a free speech debate among the community.[11] The school district ultimately decided to remove Caudill from his principal position and reassign him to oversight of construction during renovations.[12] Caudill was replaced by Bill Wiesbrook the following year. Wiesbrook was hired in 1996 and previously had worked as a dean to students and assistant principal of operations.[13]


From 1939 until 1992, the mascot was the Redskin. A series of public protests over "Redskins" as a mascot began in the 1980s and continued into the early 1990s. Each time such a protest started, the student body was polled over keeping the mascot, and each result ended with the student body voting overwhelmingly to keep it. The community, too, rallied to keep "Redskins" as the nickname; despite this, the District 203 School Board decided during the summer of 1992 that it would be appropriate to end the use of the term "Redskins." Nearly all uses of the previous Native American logo and references to "Redskin," or other names deemed to be "Native American"-themed, such as the former "Arrowhead" yearbook, were removed from the building that summer. A new school mascot, the "Redhawk". was chosen in October 1992, following months of acrimonious debated and a vote by students,[14] and went into effect in the 1993–94 school year.

The Mummy[edit]

One of the most notable displays at the school is an Egyptian mummy. Though not claimed or confirmed, Naperville Central may be the only high school in America to house such an artifact. Known as "Butch", it is stored in a glass case on the second floor of the school.[15]

The mummy was donated to the school in the 1940s by local doctor, who had purchased it in a curio shop.[15] The mummy was wrapped up and forgotten in an attic at the school until it was accidentally rediscovered by a teacher in 1975.[15] The mummy underwent restoration in the 1990s at the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute.

In 2002, the National Geographic Channel visited the school and featured the school's mummy on an episode of its Mummy Roadshow television series. The mummy dates to approximately 55 BCE.[15]


Seal of Naperville Central High School

In 2008, Naperville Central had an average composite ACT score of 24.9, and graduated 96.6% of its senior class. Naperville Central has not made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) on the Prairie State Achievement Examination, which with the ACT, are the assessment tools used in Illinois to fulfill the federal No Child Left Behind Act. One student subgroup failed to meet expectations in mathematics. In 2010, Naperville Central's junior class had a record 14 perfect ACT scores.

In 2009, Naperville Central was ranked #1353 on the annual Newsweek Magazine listing of their top 1500 American public high school (based on AP test results and the size of the graduating class). The school had been ranked #1015 in 2008.[16]

Student life[edit]


Naperville Central competes in the DuPage Valley Conference (DVC), and is a member of the Illinois High School Association (IHSA), which governs most interscholastic athletics and competitive activities in the state. Teams are stylized as the Redhawks.

The school sponsors the following interscholastic teams for young men and women: lacrosse, basketball, cross country, golf, gymnastics, soccer, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field, volleyball, and water polo. Young men may compete in baseball, football, and wrestling, while young women may compete in badminton and softball. While not sponsored by the IHSA, the Athletic Department also oversees a competitive poms team for young ladies.[17]

The following teams have won their respective IHSA sponsored state tournament or meet:[18]

  • Baseball: 2005–06, 2009–10 [19]
  • Basketball (girls): 2002-03, 2003-04 [20]
  • Football: 1999–2000, 2013–14 [21]
  • Swimming & Diving (boys): 2001–02, 2009–10 [22]
  • Swimming & Diving (girls): 2004–05, 2005–06 [23]
  • Tennis (boys): 2016-2017 [24]
  • Tennis (girls): 1993–94 [25]
  • Volleyball (boys): 1997–98 [26]
  • Volleyball (girls): 2005–06, 2007–08 [27]
  • Water Polo (boys): State Champions 2015–16, 2017–18 [28]

In 2010, the Redhawks achieved fame outside of the playing field, as the NCHS football team appeared in the country singer Kenny Chesney's music video, "The Boys of Fall".[29]

Clubs and activities[edit]

The Naperville School District is notable for its sponsorship of non-athletic extracurricular activities. Naperville Central has used this support to produce numerous award-winning academic teams such as The Scholastic Bowl Team, The Science Olympiad Team, the Math Team, and the Debate Team. These teams and others have placed well in conference, regional, state, and national competitions.

In 2004, the marching band performed as extras in the 2005 Gore Verbinski drama (modern genre) film The Weather Man; the band was shown briefly in a scene depicting a Thanksgiving Day parade.


The NCHS Science Olympiad Team, founded in 2004, ranked third in the state in 2005 and 2006 and second in state in 2007 and 2008(thus advancing to the national tournament).[30] The Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering Team won the State Championship in 2006, ending rival Naperville North's multiple-year winning streak.[31] In 2009, Central's WYSE team captured first place at the regional competition held at Naperville North. The Varsity Junior Engineering Technical Society (JETS) TEAMS's team placed first in the nation in 2006;[32] the JV JETS team placed second. In 2009, the Varsity JETS team took 1st place at the regional competition held at IIT (Wheaton Campus), while the JV team took 2nd.[33]

In 2006, four students from NCHS competed in the Toshiba/NSTA Exploravision Competition and were recognized as 2nd Place National Finalist Winners for their design of a Wireless Information Integration network.[34]


The NCHS chess team placed in 10th in 2010 and respectably in 2005 and 2006, and student Dafe Finster was the Individual State Champion in 2005.[35][36]


The Central Times (CT) student newspaper has won many national National Pacemaker Awards, the high-school journalism version of the Pulitzer Prize.[37][38][39] The CT also tied for first in the 2006 IHSA Journalism State competition as well as maintaining their title in 2010.[40] CT staff members have received national awards for their writing, as well as awards from Columbia University.[41][42]

Notable alumni[edit]


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