North High School

One hundred years ago the citizens of Des Moines were worried about taxes, annexation, politics in Washington, D.C., a new form of city government, building a new city hall, and consolidating the school districts around the city into one large system. While Des Moines has had schools since the fall of 1846 and the winter of 1847, the first of many school districts in Des Moines was formed in 1849; this was four years prior to the incorporation of the town of Fort Des Moines. Over the years there would be more than 20 independent school districts in what now includes the city limits of Des Moines.

Some of the school districts that existed before 1907 were Capitol Park – its high school was in the original building the we know today as Wallace School, North Des Moines – its high school was in the Forest Home School and later became North High School, Oak Park – its high school was located on the third floor of the original Oak Park School, and Grant Park – its high school was located in the east portion of the present day Willard School. The Oakdale District was located in the northwest part of the city – its original building was a log cabin near the site of Monroe School, and the Greenwood Park District which was located along and south of Grand Avenue.
Des Moines showed an early commitment to education by establishing numerous high schools. The West District inaugurated its high school, West High, in 1864, graduating its first class in 1868. The East District launched its high school, East High, in 1861, with its first graduate, Elizabeth Matthews, graduating in 1871. Capitol Park organized its high school in 1874, and the North Des Moines District created its high school, North High, in 1889. As the city grew to the east, west, and south, it became apparent that new high schools would be needed. East High moved from its first high school-only building at E.12th and Court Avenue in 1911 to the present building on E 13th Street.
Because of rapid westward growth in the city, planning began in 1917 to replace West High School at 15th and Center streets with a new high school that would open in 1923 as Theodore Roosevelt High School, located between 42nd Street and Polk Boulevard. West High would close in 1928 as a high school and reopen as a junior high school, eventually close down until 1942, and then reopened as Technical High School.
The first building built just for North High School was at 8th and College, the present site of Moulton School. The additions to old North serve as the core of Moulton today. In 1957 North High moved to its present site at 6th and Holcomb. Lincoln High School, SW 9th and Bell, was opened in September, 1923; it has always been the only high school in the southern part of Des Moines.
Herbert Hoover High School came to be after a 1962 defeat of a bond issue that would have added much needed classrooms to both North and Roosevelt high schools. The next bond issue, February 1964, included a northwest high school that was named after the Iowa-born president on the same site as Meredith Junior High School. Hoover was the only air-conditioned high school in the district until recent renovations at East and Lincoln added this necessity. Parts of Hoover were completed enough for students to begin classes in September 1967.
Des Moines Technical High School was begun during World War II in 1942. Housed in the former West High School building, it remained at 15th and Center streets until the former Ford Motor Company and Solar Aircraft Company building at 1800 Grand was purchased, remodeled, and added to. The District offices moved into the Tech building in 1958, moving from their former offices at 692 3rd Street. Students began the 1957-58 school year in their new building. Tech High was closed in 1986 and replaced by Central Campus, which today houses some district offices, the career and technical programs, Scavo Alternative High School, Future Pathways – a credit recovery program, Prep Academy, and English Language Learner (ELL)

As of the 2013-2014 school year, the total enrollment in Des Moines Public High Schools is 8,401 students. East is the largest of the schools with 2,291 students, followed by Lincoln with 2,185, Roosevelt with 1,708, North with 1,251, Hoover with 966 and 265 at Scavo.

Des Moines Public Schools are proud to have produced several famous alumni. From East High: Gregory Alan Williams, film actor; Lorri Bauman, first Women’s NCAA Basketball player to score 3,000 points; Ron Pearson, Former CEO, President, and Chairman of Hy-Vee Inc. From Roosevelt High: Ben Silbermann, co-founder of Pinterest; Lolo Jones, American Olympian – track and field athlete; Cloris Leachman, Emmy and Academy Award-winning actress; Natasha Kaiser-Brown, Olympic Silver Medalist; Robert D. Ray, former Governor of the State of Iowa. From North High: Herbert W. Armstrong, founder of the Worldwide Church of God; MarTay Jenkins, former NFL Wide Receiver for the Arizona Cardinals. From Hoover: Jeremey Hellickson, pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays of Major League Baseball.

Information obtained from “A Brief History of the Des Moines Independent Community School District upon its One Hundredth Anniversary”, published for the 2007 Centennial of Des Moines Public Schools by Dale A. Vande Haar.