North Central High School (Spokane, Washington)

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North Central High School
1600 N. Howard St.
Spokane, Washington
United States
Type Public
Motto Yes we can!
Established 1908 (1981)
School district Spokane Public Schools
Principal Steve Fisk
Administrators Wendy Bromley
Jessica Everman
Marybeth Smith
James Ashlock
Michael Ranieri
Faculty 148[1]
Grades 7th9–12
Number of students 1,610
Campus urban
School color(s) Red and black          
Athletics 13 Sports (6 of these both boys and girls)
Athletics conference Greater Spokane League
Mascot Indian
WIAA Class 3A
Elevation 1,900 ft (580 m) AMSL
North Central HS, looking northwest with the athletic fields in the foreground.

North Central High School is a four-year public high school in Spokane, Washington, part of the Spokane Public Schools. It opened in 1908 as the second high school in the city; the original structure was razed and the new building opened in 1981. Enrollment during the 2006-07 school year was 1,610 in grades 9–12.

Each year Newsweek magazine ranks the top public high schools in the nation when it comes preparing students for college and life. In 2009, NC ranked 692 in the nation. In 2010, 608th in the nation. In 2011, NC ranked 697th in the nation, 10th in the state of Washington, and 1st in Eastern Washington. North Central is home to the 2008 Nike Cross National Champions.


North Central High School opened in September 1908 with only half a wing and 12 classrooms ready for the 200 newly enrolled students. Events in the school's history include the outbreak of scarlet fever that led to every student being checked twice a week by throat specialist, visits by William Jennings Bryan who spoke of the importance of public speaking and Booker T. Washington who spoke of being a slave boy and the founding of a college in Tuskegee, Alabama. Following the fire at South Central High School in June 1910, its students attended North Central until it was rebuilt. The new school on the SCHS site was renamed Lewis and Clark High School and opened in 1912. South Central opened in 1891 and was "Spokane High School" until North Central opened in 1908.

Groovy Shoes[edit]

In 1991, NC and its rival school, Shadle Park, began a spirit competition named Groovy Shoes. The first theme NC chose for its Groovy Shoes T-Shirts was "Shadle Park on the Spot" and featured the "Spot" from 7-Up commercials that year.[2] While the two basketball teams battle it out on the court, the more important competition takes place in the stands annually at the Spokane Arena. Using school symbols and colors, art students at each school created a "groovy" looking shoe. The pair of shoes became the Groovy Shoes. Possession of the shoes goes to the winner of the spirit competition. The Indians have without a doubt been the dominant school at Groovy Shoes, winning 13 times compared to Shadle Park's 6 wins.[3] Prior to the actual competition there is a week long build up. Students decorate the school hallways according to the year's theme in a competition between the classes. Students also wear past Groovy Shoes shirts the week before the game. The spirit week accumulates on the day of Groovy Shoes where students can hardly pay attention in class. During the pep con at the end of the day, students learn all of the cheers, meet the characters of the years theme (past themes have included Star Wars, Circus, Alice in Groovyland, Toy Story, Groovy Pop Awards, Magic, Big Red Storm, 007, School of Rock, Pirates of the Caribbean - the curse of the lost shoe, and most recently, Code Red, where North Central won the shoe), and get excited for the game. Following the convocation, students enjoy free pizza before marching over to the Spokane Arena with the streets blocked off and a firetruck escort. After the game, win or lose, students walk back to NC and dance the night away at the school. Groovy Shoes has become one of NC's largest events of the year.

The Doll Shop[edit]

NC is notable for its theater department since their productions consist of student made sets, student designed lights, professional tickets and programs, and dedicated ushers. Every three years, North Central holds the tradition of putting on a massive, student written musical called "The Doll Shop". This tradition was created in 1930 by Elsa Pinkham, who believed that any North Central student who wishes to be in a play can be a part of this show. It was such a huge success, that it continued to be produced every other year until 1958. After Miss Pinkham retired, Lucile Lill carried on the tradition for a short time but soon ended it because she believed she was more of a "coach than a choreographer". C. Olin Rice, a North Central Choral/Orchestra Director for many years, wrote many songs just for the Doll Shop. The Doll Shop was revived in 1984 by drama teacher,Tom Armitage. Since the "Doll Shop" is student written, the story is different every three years, for instance, in 1999, it was about the last Doll Shop of the 20th Century. In 2002, it was a sequel to the 1999 show, about the first Doll Shop 21st Century. In 2005, it was a spoof of the current reality TV shows. In 2008, it was North Central's 100th birthday, so "Doll Shop" was one of the centennial events. In 2011, the most recent (making it the 23rd "Doll Shop") took on a deeper meaning; it was a reflection on today's society. The show itself was about the old classic dolls like Raggedy Anne, played by Allison Ruster and Raggedy Andy AKA Bandy, played by Dustin Roberts that were being taken out by the newer action figure dolls led by the evil new Barbie, Electronica, played by Brianna Butler. "Audience members would come up to me and tell me that they were amazed with the sheer size of the cast", said Kellie Paulsen, an Usher for "Doll Shop, 2011" in our interview, and its no exaggeration. The "Doll Shop" cast reaches over 250 students who are all actively performing on the stage in multiple scenes. This 2011 show was also a sellout and many of the students are eager to continue on this fabulous tradition at North Central High School for many more years to come. 2014, The 24th production of DOLL SHOP and Tom Armitage's 10th production, brings to s close of Mr. Armitage's involvement as he will be retiring at the end of this school year. It will now be up to the next generation to carry on the DOLL SHOP tradition.

Buildings and layout[edit]

Located in the north central part of Spokane, NCHS is a multi-story building and a layout on which students sometimes need to walk across the football field to an annex building for some classes. The current building was constructed during 1980–1981, taking the place of the original 1908 NCHS building which was torn down. It has an extensive skylight area where seniors usually eat lunch. The property encompasses over a city block in Spokane, and includes a combined football/track field, baseball and softball fields, and four tennis courts. It is rumored that the school is haunted due to the fact that it was built on an ancient Indian burial ground.


Of North Central's 1,610 students (2006-07 school year), 63% are white, 26% are black, 3% are Hispanic, 4% are Asian, 4% American Indian, and 2% are unknown/not provided. 43% of students qualify for free lunches or reduced price lunches.[4]

Notable current and former students[edit]


  • 2006 Boys 3A Cross Country State Champions
  • 2006 Girls 3A Track State Champions
  • 2007 3rd 3A Boys Basketball
  • 2007 2nd 3A Boys Track
  • 2007 Boys 3A Cross Country State Champions
  • 2007 Boys West Regional Champions in Nike Team Regional
  • 2007 Boys Cross Country Qualified For Nike Team National
  • 2007 Boys 6th at Nike Team Nationals
  • 2008 Boys 3A Cross Country State Champions
  • 2008 Boys Nike Northwest Regional Champions
  • 2008 National Champions at Nike Cross Nationals (previously NTN)
  • 2009 Boys 3A Track And Field Champions
  • 2009 Boys 3A Cross Country State Champions
  • 2009 Boys Nike Northwest Regional Champions
  • 2009 Boys 7th At Nike Cross Nationals
  • 2009 7th 3A Wrestling
  • 2010 Boys 3A State Track And Field Champions
  • 2010 Boys 3A Cross Country State Champions
  • 2010 Boys Nike Northwest Regional Champions
  • 2010 Boys 6th At Nike Cross Nationals
  • 2010 3rd 3A Wrestling
  • 2011 Boys 3A Cross Country State Champions
  • 2011 Boys 3A Track And Field State Champions
  • 2011 5th 3A Wrestling
  • 2012 Boys 3A Cross Country State Champions
  • 2012 2nd Boys 3A Track
  • 2013 Boys 3A Cross Country State Champions
  • 2013 9th 3A Wrestling
  • 2014 Boys 3A Cross Country State Champions
  • 2014 3A Wrestling State Champions
  • A list of both Boys' and Girls' sporting events for North Central can be found at this link: North Central High School Sports


2009 Nike Cross Nationals 7th place 2009/2010 2nd at mat classic (state wrestling tournament)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 47°40′17.9″N 117°25′8.5″W / 47.671639°N 117.419028°W / 47.671639; -117.419028