Iowa City High School

Iowa City High School

"The School that Leads"
1900 Morningside Drive
Iowa City, Iowa
Coordinates 41°39′36″N 91°30′25″W / 41.660°N 91.507°W / 41.660; -91.507Coordinates: 41°39′36″N 91°30′25″W / 41.660°N 91.507°W / 41.660; -91.507
Type Public
School district Iowa City Community School District
Principal John Bacon
Grades 9-12
Number of students 1,485

Red and White

Mascot Louie the Little Hawk
Affiliation Mississippi Valley Conference
Website Official Website

Iowa City High School is a public high school in Iowa City, Iowa. The present high school was built in 1937 as part of the Public Works Projects started by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to provide jobs. The first classes were held in the fall of 1939. The previous high school building, built in 1909, was converted to a junior high school after the new building opened.[1]:160 It was located where Mercy Medical Plaza now stands. The 1930s building sits atop a hill on the east side of Iowa City and, at one time, the tip of the bell tower was said to be the tallest point in Iowa City. The school motto is "The School that Leads."


Iowa City has had public education called "high school" at least as far back as 1858, when M.B. Beals was hired as principal; though Beals' records do not show where classes were held, there were 35 boys and 35 girls attending in 1860.[1]:161 Buildings that held "high school", which included junior high school, included the Grammar School, built in 1893[1]:160 on the southwest corner of the Centre Market block;[1]:159 and the 1903 Iowa City High School on the northeast corner of the same block.[1]:160 A gymnasium in the northwest corner of the block was built in 1911, and included a swimming pool earlier than the university had its own pool.[1]:160 The 1903 building's last high school graduating class was 1939, and the building was renamed Central Junior High School when the new City High School opened in 1939.[1]:160

City High, Iowa City

City High School was built through the Public Works Projects, one of many other programs formed in Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal package. City High would become the second high school to be built in Iowa City, as the older one was becoming overcrowded as the population of the city increased. To determine the new location of the school, Iowa City residents had to vote whether to build the school in a central location, closer to the existing high school, or in a Morningside location, which was the name of the street which it would be built by, out of town on the city's east side. The Morningside location was favored, and the school was built on top of a large hill outside of town. Over time, the city's suburban expansion reached the school, enclosed it, and the expanded past it. Now, the school is contained entirely by Iowa City's east side. Mr. John Bacon is head principal from August 2010-the present.


After graduation, 70% of City High graduates continue their education. Sixty percent attend four-year colleges, 5% junior or community colleges, and 5% trade and technical schools.[2] City High ranks in the top ten schools for academic performance in Iowa.[3]


City High has a storied history in track and cross country. Notably, the boys' track team ran to 11 state team titles in class 4A between the years of 1992 and 2004. During that time, they set one national relay record in 2001, in the medley, with a time of 3:22, run at the Adidas outdoor national meet. They also set 5 state records which still stand today. They are as follows: 1996 4x100 41:33 FAT, 1997 4x200 1:26.38 FAT, 1994 200m Dwight 20.72, 2002 400 m Davis 47.01 FAT, and 2001 1600 Medley 3.22.69 FAT. Coach John Raffensperger was head coach for 10 of the 11 state titles, being the only coach in Iowa to win 10 state titles. Raffensperger was also awarded National coach of the year. Together, the track and cross country programs have combined for 38 state titles and at least 10 runner-up finishes since 1989.

Sports Illustrated named City High the top sports school in the state of Iowa, citing the school's dominant cross country, track, and football teams.[4] The boys' and girls' cross country teams have won more than 20 state championships since 1990.[5] State titles for Boys' Cross Country include titles from 1991-'94 and in '96, '97, '99, and 2000.[5]

Other sports that have won state titles since 1989 include Girls' Volleyball (1998, 2007), Football (1993, 1994, 1996, 2009),[6] Boys' Basketball (1989, 2008),[7] Girls' Basketball (2008), Wrestling (1992, 1999, 2002),[8] Boys' Tennis (1999) and numerous Boys' and Girls' Track state titles.[9]

Performing arts

City High puts on two theatrical shows a year in the state of the art Iver A. Opstad Auditorium; a fall play and a spring musical. Recent productions include: 2008-2009 "Teahouse of the August Moon" and "Evita"; 2009-2010 "Almost Maine" and "The Wizard of Oz"; 2010-2011 "The Odd Couple", "Fools", and "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying"; 2011-2012 "Peter Pan", "Crimes of the Heart", and "Chicago: The Musical"

"Crimes of the Heart" was one of eight productions nationally to be selected to perform at the International Thespian Festival in June 2012.

City High's vocal department, under the direction of Dr. James Thompson and Dr. Greg Grove, has been recognized as one of the strongest in the Midwest. Select Women's Ensemble was selected to perform in Des Moines at the 2002 NACDA Convention and in Omaha at the 2006 NACDA convention. Chamber Choir was selected to perform in Sioux Falls at the 2004 NACDA Convention. The Concert Choir has been honored to be the recipient of several commissioned works from world-renowned composers. Eric Barnum composed "Fair Ines" for the 2011 Concert Choir. Philip Lawson arranged and recently published "The William Tell Overture" for the 2009 Concert Choir. Most notably, in 2001, Moses Hogan arranged and published one of his finest works, "Ezekiel Saw de Wheel", dedicating it to Dr. Grove and the 2001 concert choir.

Fourth Avenue Jazz Company (commonly referred to as 4th Ave) is City High's premiere show choir. They have been very successful as of recent. It earned its name from the street that the founding director Larry Monson took to school every day, ending in the school's gymnasium parking lot. City Lights, the mixed prep show choir, has also been very successful in the prep division. 4th Ave is under the direction of Dr. James Thompson choreographed by L.D. Kidd 4th Ave has won grand championships in the following years: '88, '89, '93, 94, '95, '02, '03, '04, '11, '13, '14.

City High has been named a Signature School by the Grammy Foundation three times. (2000, 2001, and 2004). City High is one of only three schools nationwide to accomplish this. In 2004, Dr. Greg Grove and Bill Pringle (former band director) were flown to Washington D.C. for a small congratulatory event, by the Grammy Foundation.[10]


City High is home to three student publications, The Little Hawk (newspaper), the The City Review (literary and art magazine) and Red and White (yearbook).

Both The Little Hawk and the Red and White are in the NSPA Hall of Fame.

The Little Hawk, a monthly newspaper, has earned twelve National Pacemaker Awards (1989—95, 97—2000, 2012), more than any other high school student newspaper in the country. "The Red and White" has won one National Pacemaker Award (1996).[11]

"The Little Hawk" has won the NSPA Best of Show at the National Conference eleven times (1989–95, 97-99, 2012)

The Little Hawk website ( earned Pacemaker finalist in 2011 and 2012. In November 2012, it received 5th Place Best of Show at the JEA/NSPA San Antonio National Journalism Conference.

"The Little Hawk" Newspaper was the first high school publication to create an app for smartphones. The app was developed by student Jonathan Myers.[12]

Notable alumni


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Weber, Irving B. (1985). "Article 516". Historical Stories about Iowa City. 3. Iowa City, Iowa: Lions Club. pp. 157–162. Retrieved November 21, 2016. Book also known as volume 3 of Irving Weber's Iowa City. Reprinted from Weber, Irving B. (September 8, 1984). "A School Building at Every Corner of Old Centre Market". Iowa City Press-Citizen. Iowa City, Iowa. p. 4A.
  2. City High School,
  3. Ranking of High Schools in Iowa,
  4. Best by State: The top high school athletic programs in America -; accessed 9 March 2010
  5. 1 2 City High Cross Country,
  6. City High Football,
  7. City High Basketball,
  8. City High Wrestling,
  9. City High Track,
  10. Welcome to GRAMMY In The Schools - GRAMMY Foundation
  11. National Scholastic Press Association; List of past Pacemaker winners; accessed 13 July 2009
  12. ""The App That Leads" – The Little Hawk Mobile now available on the Apple App Store". Retrieved 2012-09-03.
  13. Layden, Tim (May 24, 1999). "Spring Fling". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved April 21, 2014.
  14. Pat Harty, Pat (April 16, 2014). "Hiring Reese Morgan was one of Ferentz's best decisions". Press-Citizen. Retrieved April 21, 2014.
  15. "Iowa City sisters win boxing titles". Associated Press. USA Today. July 16, 2003. Retrieved April 21, 2014.
  16. "Jay Hilgenberg". The Pro Football Archives. Retrieved April 21, 2014.
  17. "Eddie Watt Statistics and History". Baseball Reference. Retrieved April 21, 2014.
  18. "Joey Woody profile". USA Track and Field. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
  19. "Term: Kelso, Carol 1945". Wisconsin Historical Society. Retrieved April 21, 2014.
  20. "Jeremy Mims Profile". USA Track and Field. Retrieved April 21, 2014.
  21. "Dan McCarney to be Inducted into Iowa City High Hall of Fame". CSTV. October 12, 2005. Retrieved April 21, 2014.
  22. Gross, Ted (May 27, 2005). "Coach brings NFL experience to El Molino High". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved April 21, 2014.
  23. "State Representative". Retrieved 2015-12-15.

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