Central High School (Detroit)

Central High School, previously Central Collegiate Academy and originally named Central High School, is the oldest public secondary school in Detroit, Michigan; it is owned by the Detroit Public Schools.

Central High School
2425 Tuxedo Street

School typePublic
School districtDetroit Public Schools (DPS)
PrincipalDamon Sewell
Color(s)Navy and White   
Athletics conferenceDetroit Public School League
Team nameTrailblazers
Central High School in 1904; this building is now Old Main at Wayne State University

Effective July 1, 2017, Central High operates under the control of Detroit Public Schools Community District.[1]


In 1858, Detroit's first high school opened on Miami Avenue. By 1863, increased enrollment caused the school to be moved to a building that had formerly housed the State Capitol, becoming Capitol High School. In 1871, the University of Michigan granted accreditation to the school.[2]

In 1893, a fire destroyed Capitol High School, but it continued to function temporarily at the Biddle House on East Jefferson Avenue. In 1896, Capitol was replaced by Central High School, at the intersection of Cass and Warren Avenue; the structure is still in use as Wayne State University's Old Main.[2]

In 1904, innovative educator David Mackenzie returned to his hometown as the new principal of Central High School. By 1913, under Mackenzie's direction, a one-year, college-level premedical curriculum was established at Central High, the first junior college curriculum organized in Michigan. In 1916, the program was extended to two years, and in 1917 the state legislature approved Mackenzie's plans for establishing the Detroit Junior College, forerunner of Wayne State University. In 1919, David Mackenzie was officially appointed first Dean of the college.[3]

In 1926, a further increase in the student population caused Central High School to be moved to its current location, at 2425 Tuxedo Street.[4]

In the fall of 2015, several former students from Highland Park Renaissance High School, a high school in Highland Park which closed earlier that year, enrolled in Central. To help the Highland Park students adjust, David Oclander, the principal of Central, established a "dean of culture" at the school.[5]

In 2017, the school returned to being run by Detroit Public Schools after having been part of the Educational Achievement Authority. Also in the fall of 2017 Durfee Elementary/Middle School was relocated to the Central High School building. Central High School was limited to only one of the building's three floors. This was possible because Central had declined to only 350 students, with 600 students at Durfee. In its heyday Central High School had had an enrollment of 4,000 students.[6]


As Detroit's oldest high school, Central has enjoyed a tradition of athletic success.[7]

Central High School dominated city league men's basketball during the early twentieth century, winning championship titles in 1906, 1907 and 1909. Despite the absence of tournament play (1910–1919), Central High was a perennial fixture atop the standings at season's end.

CHS also won city tournament titles in 1934, 1942 and 1980.[8] In 1998, Coach Oronde Taliaferro marched his Trailblazers through the postseason, all the way to the Michigan High School Athletic Association championship game. In the final, Central dispatched Belleville High 63-47 to claim the state title.[9]

During the 1980s, Central's track and field program stamped an indelible mark in the record books; Coach Woody Thomas and his track men won a total of four MHSAA team titles - in 1980, 81, 82 and 1984.[10]

Notable alumniEdit


  1. ^ "Welcome EAA Community Archived 2017-04-29 at the Wayback Machine." Detroit Public Schools. Retrieved on May 2, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Central High School". Detroit Public Schools. Archived from the original on April 5, 2010.
  3. ^ Walter P. Reuther Library David Mackenzie Papers
  4. ^ "Inside Detroit Public Schools » Central High School Archived 2009-04-15 at the Wayback Machine." Detroit Public Schools. Retrieved on April 18, 2009.
  5. ^ Abdel-Razzaq, Lauren (2015-09-05). "Displaced Highland Park students find new schools". The Detroit News. Retrieved 2017-05-02.
  6. ^ Detroit News March 7, 2017
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-05-19. Retrieved 2016-05-10.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ Detroit PSL Basketball » PSL Champions
  9. ^ Yearly Champions | Boys Basketball | MHSAA Sports
  10. ^ Team Champions | Boys Track & Field | MHSAA Sports
  11. ^ a b c d e f "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-07-03. Retrieved 2009-10-24.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ Representative Sander Martin Levin (Sandy) (D-Michigan) - Biography from LegiStorm
  13. ^ Selbst, Jeffrey (January 22, 1978). "For Gael Greene, the 'Skies' are grey". The Michigan Daily. p. 8.
  14. ^ http://broadeducation.org/asset/1042-090412detroitfreepress.pdf
  15. ^ Carl Levin - United States Senator for Michigan: About Carl Archived May 27, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Thomas Wilcher

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 42°23′1.6″N 83°6′43.3″W / 42.383778°N 83.112028°W / 42.383778; -83.112028