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Walnut Hills High School is a public college-preparatory high school in Cincinnati, Ohio, United States. Operated by the Cincinnati Public Schools, it houses grades seven through twelve and maintains a culturally diverse student body. The school has been given an excellent rating by the Ohio Department of Education. Newsweek named it the 57th best public high school in America in 2007, and U.S. News & World Report ranked it 36th in the nation in 2008.
The school colors are blue and gold. The motto is "Sursum ad summum", which is Latin for "Rise to the Highest". The mascot is the eagle, and the sports teams are known as "The Eagles."
The school was the third district public high school established in the city of Cincinnati, following Hughes H.S. and Woodward H.S., and was opened in September 1895 on the corner of Ashland and Burdett Avenues in Cincinnati. As a district high school, it accommodated the conventional four years (grades 9-12). It began with 20 teachers and 684 students.
In 1919 Walnut Hills became a classical high school (college-preparatory school) and was expanded to accommodate six years (grades 7-12). Students were drawn from the entire city, rather than from a defined district within the city. As a classical high school, its organization was modeled on eastern college preparatory schools in general, and on Boston Latin School in particular.
A new building on Victory Boulevard (now Victory Parkway) was built on 14 acres (57,000 m2) acquired from the Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati and was occupied in 1931. Designed by architect Frederick W. Garber's firm it remains in use today. The facility was designed for 1700 students and included 31 class rooms, 3 study halls, choral harmony and band rooms, a general shop, a print shop, a mechanical drawing room, 2 swimming pools (separate swimming for boys and girls), a library, a large and a small auditorium, and a kitchen for teaching cooking (with pantry and adjacent living room and dining room).
The front of the building was inspired by Thomas Jefferson's designs at the University of Virginia and modeled after University of Virginia's library building, including the iconic, domed library at the center of the structure. Examples of Cincinnati's famous Rookwood Pottery are to be found throughout the building, including the masks of comedy and tragedy adorning the proscenium arch of the large theatrical auditorium. The school's original Ashland and Burdett location became the Burdett School in 1932, which was closed in 1979. Abandoned for many years, the building was renovated in 2005 as the Schoolhouse Lofts.
Four temporary, prefabricated steel classrooms, called "The Colony" or "the Tin Can" by resentful students, were installed in 1958 to accommodate the increasing student population . As of the 2008-2009 school year, these are in use as weight rooms. In 1960, a one-story Annex added 17 classrooms, including a language laboratory and typing lab, to the school . In 1976, a Fine Arts Complex was added, partially replacing existing facilities near the main Auditorium, including a secondary facility that had been called the "Small Auditorium," "Small Theater," or "Little Theater." In 1998, the Annex was razed and an Arts and Science Center containing 30 classrooms replaced it in 1999. This addition was unique in that its construction was funded entirely with $9 million dollars of private donations from the school's alumni, after the voters in the Cincinnati Public School District rejected a tax levy that would have paid for it.
The Robert S. Marx stadium, a 2000 seat all-weather football and soccer field, was dedicated on 1 September 2006. At the same time the 8-lane William DeHart Hubbard Track was dedicated. Construction of both facilities was funded by the Cincinnati Public Schools. They are named for successful alumni who had distinguished themselves in athletics during their student years, and in Hubbard's case, was the first African American to win an Olympic gold medal in an individual event.
As is usual in American high schools, students in grades 9, 10, 11, and 12 are called Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors, respectively. At Walnut Hills after 1919, students in the 7th Grade are called 'Effies' and those in the 8th grade are called 'E-flats.' This derives from a different scheme for naming classes that was in use in the early part of the 20th century. Then, the 12th grade was the A-class, 11th grade was the B-class, and so forth, with the 8th grade the E-class and 7th grade the F-class. The other remnant of this system surviving into the late 20th century was the event called the "B-A Prom," which was the Junior-Senior Prom.
At the end of the 2006-2007 school year, Marvin O. Koenig, Walnut Hills' Principal for fifteen years, retired. Before the 2007-2008 school year began Jeffrey J. Brokamp was named the new Principal. A member of the Class of 1978, he is an alumnus of Walnut Hills and the son of previous Walnut Hills' Principal and Superintendent of Cincinnati Public Schools Raymond Brokamp. Jeff Brokamp claims to be putting renewed emphasis on the school's athletic programs, school spirit and club participation, while maintaining its longstanding commitments to excellence in academics and the arts. Mr. Brokamp feels that the school's motto, "Sursum ad Summum", should be reflected in all its programs, and has stated that he considers "athletics a form of intelligence."
Walnut Hills was a location shot of a 1981 made-for-TV movie called "The Pride of Jesse Hallam" starring Johnny Cash and Brenda Vaccaro. Many students were used as extras. It was also used as a filming location for the movie Traffic (2000 film). The front of the building was also used in a setting for the movie "Rainman". Walnut Hills was a location shot of the Academy Award winning movie, "The Best Years of Our Lives", starring Dana Andrews and Harold Russell. In the early scenes, the plane carrying Andrews and Russell flies over the dome.
Walnut Hills has long admitted only students who pass a standardized test. All students must pass a standardized test in math and reading to be accepted to the school.
In keeping with the classical format, emphasis is placed on ancient Greek and Roman history and culture, and all students who enter in grades 7 or 8 must complete three years of Latin. The classical emphasis is complemented by a broad range of academic options in the higher grades, with more Advanced Placement courses being offered than in any other school in the country, according to the Curriculum Guide. The school has consistently been ranked highly in school rankings, including being named the 60th best high school in the nation by Newsweek, and 36th in U.S. News & World Report's 2009 rankings. Each year Walnut initiates many National Merit Scholars and generally scores well on the 28 AP tests offered including Music Theory, Art and Design, Psychology, Chemistry and US History.
The first student publication at Walnut Hills was Gleam. It began publication in January 1896, according to a summary in the 1905 Remembrancer. Gleam began as a monthly school newspaper and student literary journal. Its name, selected by W. H. Venable, first head of the English Department, comes from the last line of Tennyson's poem, Merlin and The Gleam.
The school yearbook is called the Remembrancer and was first published in 1899. It has sometimes been published as the Remembrancer Number of Gleam, even as late as the 1920s. More often it has been a separately edited and published work.
Over the years, Gleam placed more and more emphasis on student literary efforts and less on news. In 1922, a mimeographed, one-page newspaper called Chatterbox began weekly publication. After a few years, accumulated subscription funds permitted purchase of a multigraph press. In March 1932 Chatterbox moved to conventional print reproduction. For the 1932-33 academic year it became the official school newspaper and Gleam became purely a literary journal, reducing its publication frequency to three issues per year. Both publications were initially obtained by payment of a single, annual subscription. Eventually, Chatterbox and Gleam separated completely.
Gleam was reduced to one issue per year some time before 1960, but increased to two issues during the 1980s. Chatterbox continued weekly publication into the 1980s and reduced to publication every second week sometime thereafter. Today, Chatterbox is a monthly publication.
Most recently, a student funded and published paper has been created in 2009 entitled the Goldfish Gazette. The Goldfish is an underground newspaper published without consent of the school by a man who identifies himself only as "Mr. Goldfinch." As well as columns, the paper regularly features a section that parodies Senior Superlatives and fake news headlines.
The sports teams have played in a number of leagues since the demise of the Public High School League in 1984. Today, in most sports, they play in the Cardinal division of the Fort Ancient Valley Conference.
In recent years the school's most notable teams have been their boy's tennis, soccer, and girl's track teams
In 2008 the Girls 800-meter sprint medley relay team of Shauniece Steele, Taylor Ware, Kelly Thomas and Landi Wilson claimed the school's first national championship in track and field at the Nike Outdoor Nationals in Greensboro, N.C. Walnut Hills finished the event with a time of 1:44.10 setting a Cincinnati record and recording the second-fastest time in Ohio high school history.
Also in 2008, the girls 4x200 and 4x400 relay teams won OHSAA state track championships, the latter in an all-division state record time of 3:45.89. The same four girls comprised both relays - Shauniece Steele, Landi Wilson, Kelly Thomas, and Ashley Liverpool.
Famous alumni include:
- Lone Star Elementary
- Lincoln Elementary
- Kings River High (Continuation)
- John S. Wash Elementary
- Jefferson Elementary
- Jackson Elementary
- Hallmark Charter
- Fairmont Elementary
- Del Rey Elementary
- Community Day
- Centerville Elementary
- Wilson Elementary
- Washington Academic Middle
- Sanger High
- Ronald W. Reagan Elementary
- Quail Lake Environmental Charter
- Sanger Academy Charter
- Madison Elementary