North Division High School (Milwaukee)

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North Division High School (now North Division Virtual University High School) is one of the major public high schools in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, part of the Milwaukee Public Schools. It began operation in 1906.;[1] was abolished in 2006; and was reinstituted in 2011.

Flourishing years[edit]

By 1915, it had the highest enrollment of any high school in Milwaukee, at 1082, even though it had just lost almost 200 students to the newly opened Riverside High School.[2]

"Save North Division" drive[edit]

After a $20 million renovation program (the new building, just to the east of the old site, opened in September 1978) failed to lure white students to North Division, the school board voted to turn the school into a magnet school specializing in medical and science technology. A "Coalition to Save North Division" was formed, arguing that this school which had produced many African-American leaders for Milwaukee was being abolished, displacing black students and continuing a process of placing the burden of desegregation on them (at the time, the student body was 96.6% black).[3] The Coalition eventually won: on May 1, 1980, the school board reversed itself, and North Division remained heavily African-American in composition.[4]


North Division was abolished, and its old campus divided into three smaller charter schools, in 2004. In 2009 the Milwaukee School Board voted to return to a single, large, comprehensive high school in the old building and under the old name, effective in September 2010.[5] In Fall of 2011, it was announced that it was back in operation as North Division Virtual University High School, with "[n]ew classes, teachers and administrative staff for the 2011 - 2012 school year!".[6]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ Watrous, Jerome Anthony. 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 Western Historical Association, 1909; p. 414
  2. ^ "Schools Open With 46,868 Attendance" Milwaukee Sentinel September 8, 1915; p. 4, col. 4
  3. ^ Bednarek, David I. "North Division's Grades Reportedly Average Only D". Milwaukee Journal August 14, 1979; Part 2, p.6
  4. ^ Mitchell, Ernie. "Messmer not alone in closing" Milwaukee Journal June 11, 1984; pp. 1, 8.
  5. ^ Borsuk, Alan J. "North Division High School to make comeback in 2010" Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Mar. 26, 2009
  6. ^ NDHS website

External links[edit]