The Oldest High School in Every State
While historic and culturally protected buildings typically consist of European castles and churches, it’s easy to forget how far back the United States really goes. There may be a lot of modern skyscrapers and neighborhoods in America, but take a look at one of the oldest pillars of society — the schoolhouse — and you’ll see just how much history we have.
Curious to know which high schools rank among the oldest in the country? We’ve rounded up the oldest high school in every state — one of which dates back nearly 400 years and another that served as a hospital for Union soldiers during the American Civil War. From Alabama to Wyoming, you won’t find more storied educational institutions than these.
Auburn High School in Alabama
Year Opened: 1837
Founded more than 183 years ago in Auburn, Alabama, Auburn High School is actually the fifth oldest high school in all of the American South.
The high school continues to offer 11 men's and 10 women's varsity sports, a noteworthy Science Olympiad and counts a handful of NFL players as alumni — including Rashaan Evans and Marcus Washington.
West Anchorage High School in Alaska
Year Opened: 1955
West Anchorage High School is the oldest high school in Alaska that is still in existence.
Considered to be the second largest high school in the state, only after East Anchorage High School, with 1,842 students, the historic high school serves the western part of downtown and is best known for its theater program, which formerly represented the American High School Theatre Festival at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Tucson High Magnet School in Arizona
Year Opened: 1892
Dating back over a century, Tucson High Magnet School is the oldest still-operating school and the sixth largest in Arizona, with more than 3,500 students enrolled.
The historic building has retained its century-old charm and has even played set to the 1987 film, “Can’t Buy Me Love,” starring Patrick Dempsey and Amanda Peterson.
Mount St. Mary Academy in Arkansas
Year Opened: 1851
Located in Little Rock, Mount Saint Mary Academy is the oldest high school in Arkansas.
The all-girls catholic school is considered to be a college prep school that follows the Advanced Placement (AP) program in order to best prepare girls for higher academia.
Lowell High School in California
Year Opened: 1856
Formerly known as Union Grammar School, Lowell High School is located in San Francisco and is considered to be one of the oldest high schools in all of the United States.
The public high school is one of two public schools in the San Francisco Unified School District and boasts notable alumni, including former NBA player Frank Kudelka and U.S. Ambassador Julia Chang Bloch.
East High School in Colorado
Year Opened: 1876
Not only is East High School the oldest existing high school in Colorado—it was also the first high school to open in the city of Denver.
It has since been declared an official Denver Historic Landmark by the Denver Landmark Commission and the Denver City Council and has drawn notoriety as the set for the “Over My Head (Cable Car)” music video by The Fray.
Hartford Public High School in Connecticut
Year Opened: 1638
Hartford Public High School is no spring chicken — having been founded nearly 400 years ago, the educational institution is the second oldest high school in all of the United States, second only to the Boston Latin School.
Notable alumni include NASA astronaut Franklin Chang-Diaz and NBA all-star Michael Adams.
Newark High School in Delaware
Year Opened: 1893
One one of just three high schools within the Christina School District in Newark, this public high school is the oldest educational institution in the state of Delaware.
Despite the school’s population of more than 1,000 students, due to modern building restrictions in the area, the high school lacks space and parking, which has resulted in many of its 24 sports teams borrowing outside facilities for games and practices.
Leon High School in Florida
Year Opened: 1831
Leon High School was designed by renowned architect M. Leo Elliott, who was also behind noteworthy historic buildings such as the Old Jail on East Gaines Street, also in Tallahassee.
The high school is considered to be a very desirable public school, due to the building’s prestige.
Academy of Richmond County in Georgia
Year Opened: 1783
Considered to be the sixth oldest school in the United States, the Academy of Richmond County, or formerly the Richmond County Military Academy, was originally intended to be an all-male private military school before becoming a public school in the 1950s.
Since then, the school has received recognition from the National Register of Historic Places for its Gothic architecture.
Lahainaluna High School in Hawaii
Year Opened: 1831
Located on the island of Maui, Lahainaluna High School was founded in 1831 as a protestant missionary school. Today, the public school serves grades 9-12 and also acts as a public boarding school.
The institution is located on the side of an inactive volcano, which makes the buildings along the campus quite spread out and even allowed the school to serve as Hawaii’s first printing press back in 1834.
Greenleaf Friends Academy in Idaho
Year Opened: 1908
Greenleaf Friends Academy in Greenleaf is a private Christian school and the oldest surviving education institute in the state.
The academy was originally a quaint, one-room schoolhouse but has since expanded and currently has about 200 students ranging from preschool to grade 12.
Cambridge High School in Illinois
Year Opened: 1834
Located in the rural Cambridge Township of Henry County, Cambridge High School is not only the oldest educational institution in Illinois but ranks within the top 40 in the United States.
The fringe campus has just 207 students as of the 2017-2018 school year, which allows for the average class size to sit at just 14 students per class.
New Albany High School in Indiana
Year Opened: 1834
The New Albany High School in Indiana has seen everything pass through its doors since its inception nearly 200 years ago.
It began as a public high school, was used as a hospital for Union soldiers during the American Civil War, had its own public-access television cable TV channel, and now boasts its own bookstore, auditorium, auxiliary gym and in-school clinic.
East High School in Iowa
Year Opened: 1861
Colloquially referred to as “East,” this public high school in Des Moines currently serves over 2,400 students within the Des Moines Independent Community School District.
The historic public school is just one building, but it’s divided into six wings and runs an alternating A day/B day schedule to help accommodate the large school population.
Maur Hill – Mount Academy in Kansas
Year Opened: 1863
Founded in 1863, Maur Hill – Mount Academy in Atchison is currently a Catholic boarding school, sponsored by the St. Benedict's Abbey and Mount St. Scholastica convent.
Originally known as the all-girls Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica, the school merged with all-boys St. Benedict's College in 1971 and has been a co-ed institution ever since.
Kentucky School for the Deaf in Kentucky
Year Opened: 1823
Located in Danville, Kentucky, the Kentucky School for the Deaf was the first school specifically for the deaf west of the Allegheny Mountains and continues to offer education for deaf and hard-of-hearing children of high school age.
During its first opening years, the school served all of the southern states, but today, it has an enrollment of just 100 students.
Warren Easton Charter High School in Louisiana
Year Opened: 1843
Formerly known as Boys High School, New Orleans-based Warren Easton Charter High School is known today for its adoption of both Spanish and Chinese as second language classes available to students.
The high school also offered German lessons to adults in the 1930s.
Hampden Academy in Maine
Year Opened: 1803
Founded more than 200 years ago, Hampden Academy is not just the oldest high school in Maine but the 15th oldest in all of the United States.
While the building has gone through expansions over its life, it still retains the old-world schoolhouse charm by way of classic brickwork and crisp white accents.
Baltimore City College in Maryland
Year Opened: 1839
Known locally as “The Castle on the Hill,” Baltimore City College gets its name from the stunning Collegiate Gothic architecture style that's perched on the highest point in all of Baltimore.
The high school campus looks and feels much more like a prestigious university, thanks to the park-like campus that overlooks the downtown core.
Boston Latin School in Massachusetts
Year Opened: 1634
The Boston Latin School is both the oldest public school and the oldest-existing educational institution in the United States — even older than Harvard University, also in Boston.
The school continues to be one of the most highly rated high schools in the country, with notable historic alumni including Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin and John Hancock.
Central High School in Michigan
Year Opened: 1863
Located in Detroit, Central High School has seen a lot over its near two centuries servicing the Detroit community.
In 1893, the original structure was destroyed by a fire. Then, in 1896, it was rebuilt and changed locations — and today it serves just 350 students across grades 9 to 12.
Saint Paul Central High School in Minnesota
Year Opened: 1866
Founded in 1866 in downtown Saint Paul, this storied high school boasts more Rhodes Scholars than any other public high school in the country.
The campus is set across four buildings with notable academics programs, including the International Baccalaureate, the Advanced Placement (AP) program and the Quest program for gifted and talented students.
Cathedral High School in Mississippi
Year Opened: 1847
Founded just five years after the first Catholic church opened in Mississippi, Cathedral High School is a private, Roman Catholic educational institution in Adams County.
Originally staffed by the Daughters of Charity, the school now serves both Catholic and non-Catholic students from kindergarten to grade 12.
Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in Missouri
Year Opened: 1853
St. Louis’ Central Visual and Performing Arts High School (previously known as Central High School) is the oldest high school west of the Mississippi River — dating back more than 150 years of continual service.
Today, the high school specializes in art education, with a focus on ceramics, visual arts and theatre.
Hellgate High School in Montana
Year Opened: 1908
Located in Missoula, Hellgate High School blends different forms of architecture and an expansive network of tunnels in order to accommodate over 1,000 students — a huge jump in size from what it was originally built to serve.
Omaha Central High School in Nebraska
Year Opened: 1889
Located in downtown Omaha, the Omaha Central High School has a strong focus on media and journalism.
The student newspaper, “The Register,” is considered the oldest continuously published newspaper west of the Mississippi, while the youth-led radio station dates back nearly a century as well.
Las Vegas High School in Nevada
Year Opened: 1905
While Las Vegas High School may serve more than 2,000 students these days, the historic high school wasn’t always that significant of an educational institution.
The school opened more than 100 years ago as nothing more than a tent on the outskirts of town and has since been rebuilt and refined to comfortably serve grades 9 to 12.
Pinkerton Academy in New Hampshire
Year Opened: 1814
Set on a 120-acre campus, Pinkerton Academy in Derry is exactly what one would expect when picturing a historic American secondary school.
The charming brick facade of the Old Academy Building is combined with over a dozen newer buildings sprinkled across the campus for practical use. Noteworthy faculty include poet Robert Frost.
Columbia High School in New Jersey
Year Opened: 1814
Located in Maplewood, New Jersey, Columbia High School is not only the oldest school in New Jersey but the 17th oldest school in the country.
Best known for being the first public school to embrace Earth Day, the all-day observance is still in practice to this day by way of scientist speakers, seminars and environmental-themed folk songs.
Santa Fe High School in New Mexico
Year Opened: 1899
Nearly 125 years old, Santa Fe High School is the oldest public high school in New Mexico.
Today, the institution is best known for its impressive Advanced Placement (AP) test scoring — which regularly outperforms the national and global average.
Canandaigua Academy in New York
Year Opened: 1791
Canandaigua Academy in Canandaigua is not only the oldest high school in the state but the eighth oldest high school in the country.
Originally a private boy’s school, the educational institution has since been converted into a co-ed public school for grades 9 to 12 and has previously received the Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the U.S. Department of Education.
Cary High School in North Carolina
Year Opened: 1896
One of just six high schools in Cary, Cary High School is best known for its corps-style marching band, which was established just over a century ago — and continues to be one of the top in the country.
In recent years, the Cary High School marching band even performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Oak Grove Lutheran School in North Dakota
Year Opened: 1906
Founded in 1906, Oak Grove Lutheran School was originally established as an educational institution for Norwegian schoolgirls.
Today, the school serves grades pre-kindergarten to grade 12 in the Fargo area.
Elyria High School in Ohio
Year Opened: 1830
Elyria High School is best known for being the first chartered high school west of the Allegheny Mountains.
While the school was rebuilt in 2011, it still retains its storied history and continues to serve nearly 2,000 students.
Mount St. Mary's Academy in Oklahoma
Year Opened: 1903
Founded in 1903 by the Sisters of Mercy, Mount St. Mary's Academy in Oklahoma City is a private Roman Catholic educational institution.
The school currently serves just 388 students from grades 9 to 12.
Lincoln High School in Oregon
Year Opened: 1869
Located in the Goose Hollow area of Portland, Lincoln High School dates all the way back to 1869 and currently serves 1,705 students — a large jump from the 45 students enrolled its first year in operation.
Central High School in Pennsylvania
Year Opened: 1836
Central High School in Philadelphia has seen quite an impressive amount of alumni go on to do great things.
The historic high school calls linguist Noam Chomsky, actor Larry Fine, news anchor Betty Liu and more noteworthy public figures alumni.
Classical High School in Rhode Island
Year Opened: 1843
Founded in 1843, Classical High School was originally an all-boys school but has since become a co-ed public high school for grades 9 to 12.
The brutalist architecture style of the more modern buildings was designed by noted local architects Harkness & Geddes.
Dreher High School in South Carolina
Year Opened: 1938
Voted among America's Best High Schools by Newsweek, Dreher High School in Columbia consistently ranks high for AP, SAT and ACT scores.
The school, which once saw just 41 students in a given graduating class back in the 1930s and ’40s, now sees more than 400 graduate each year.
Washington High School in South Dakota
Year Opened: 1908
Washington High School, more commonly known as just “Washington,” first opened with an impressive 500 students at the time.
Today, the school has been rebuilt and expanded upon to serve 2,000 students in the Sioux Falls School District.
Tennessee School for the Deaf in Tennessee
Year Opened: 1844
Originally known as the Tennessee Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb, this state-operated school for the deaf and hard-of-hearing serves students from pre-kindergarten all the way through grade 12.
Listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, this centuries-old school retains its old-world charm and architecture to this day in its Knoxville campus (one of three throughout the state).
New Braunfels High School in Texas
Year Opened: 1845
Established all the way back in 1845, New Braunfels High School, or NBHS, was rated “Met Standard” by the Texas Education Agency and continues to achieve SAT scores well above the national average.
West High School in Utah
Year Opened: 1890
Located in Salt Lake City, West High School has accumulated an impressive amount of noteworthy alumni over its history as a public educational institution — including CEO of General Mills Mark Willies, PGA golfer Tony Finau and author Dan Wells.
Windsor High School in Vermont
Year Opened: 1845
Located in the historic town of Windsor, Windsor High School is set at the base of Ascutney Mountain and serves students from both Vermont and New Hampshire.
The school is best known for its commitment to fostering creativity and motivating challenges.
New London Academy in Virginia
Year Opened: 1795
Recognized by both the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and Virginia Landmarks Register, New London Academy in Forest dates back more than 225 years.
Notable patrons include Thomas Jefferson, whose grandson, Francis W. Eppes, attended the school as a child.
Dayton High School in Washington
Year Opened: 1881
Located in Columbia County, Dayton High School is the oldest secondary school in Washington state.
The particularly small high school serves just 127 students in grades 9 to 12.
Parkersburg High School in West Virginia
Year Opened: 1867
Located in Parkersburg, this 153-year old high school is the second largest in all of West Virginia, serving more than 1,700 students.
Noteworthy alumni include astronomer Linda Goodman and Patsy Ramsey, mother of JonBenét Ramsey.
Mary D. Bradford High School in Wisconsin
Year Opened: 1845
Located in Kenosha, Mary D. Bradford High School has produced more than a dozen professional athletes from the NFL to the NBA, thanks to its impressive and highly comprehensive focus on sports.
Fort Washakie High School in Wyoming
Year Opened: 1879
Fort Washakie High School in Wyoming currently serves grades 9 to 12 in the Fort Washakie on the Wind River Indian Reservation.
The school’s guiding ethos is that education is the best weapon for protection, which is apparent in the school’s above average test results.