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Pioneer High School (Ann Arbor, Michigan)

Pioneer High School is a public school in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In 2010, Pioneer was listed as a "Silver Medal School" by the U.S. News & World Report.[2]

Pioneer High School
601 West Stadium Boulevard


Coordinates42°15′35″N 83°45′15″W / 42.259651°N 83.754057°W / 42.259651; -83.754057Coordinates: 42°15′35″N 83°45′15″W / 42.259651°N 83.754057°W / 42.259651; -83.754057
TypePublic secondary
MottoHome of Purple Pride
EstablishedOctober 5, 1856
School districtAnn Arbor Public Schools
PrincipalTracey Lowder
Number of students1,773 (2016–17)[1]
Color(s)Purple & White          
MascotWoody the Pioneer
Pioneer High School: view of the east, or "A Hall," entrance

In previous years Huron High School, another secondary school in Ann Arbor and Pioneer were among the largest high schools in the state, however due to the addition of Skyline High School enrollment numbers have declined.[3]



Founded in 1856, Pioneer High School has held several names and occupied various buildings in its 150 years of existence. First known as the Union School, the institution opened on October 5, 1856. The school was later renamed Ann Arbor High School, and its yearbook, The Omega, was first published in 1884. In 1904, Ann Arbor High School burned down, and the rebuilt high school opened in 1906 at the corner of Huron and State Streets in Ann Arbor. This structure was later known as the Frieze Building after it was sold to the University of Michigan; it was demolished by the university in early 2007 to make way for the new North Quad residence hall.[4] Through a local essay contest run by The Ann Arbor News, the mascot nickname, the Pioneers, was chosen in 1936. The land on which the school currently resides, sitting directly southwest of the University of Michigan Football Stadium, which the University uses as a parking lot on football Saturdays, on West Stadium Boulevard at South Main Street, was purchased in 1953. Construction of the building was completed before Ann Arbor High moved to the new location in the fall of 1956.[5] By the 1960s, the new building had already reached capacity, and thus, in 1967, the school board established Huron High School, the city's second comprehensive high school, on the city's east side, and renamed the old school to Pioneer High School.[6] In 1968, before Huron's building was completed, students from the old and new schools shared the Pioneer building in a split schedule, with Pioneer students attending classes in the morning and Huron students in the afternoon.

In 1971, Pioneer II, an experimental offshoot of Pioneer High School, was established. The school utilized a small, self-selected group of Pioneer faculty and students working under "free-school" principles, and eventually became Earthworks High School before merging with Community High School in 1978.[7]

Pioneer High School was the first high school in the US to have a planetarium, which was donated to the school in 1956 by the Argus Camera Company.[8] As of October 2012, it held the record for being the longest continuously run planetarium in a school in the western hemisphere.[9]


The Pioneer Theatre Guild won Class A State Championships in 1986 and again in 1988 when they performed Sam Shephard's Fool For Love. In the fall of 2006, the Pioneer Theatre Guild was the first high school theater company to do a stage production of Disney's High School Musical, Willy Wonka, and Miss Saigon. Pioneer Theatre Guild was chosen to perform several "musical pilots" by Musical Theatre International, including The Little Mermaid (2015), Rock of Ages (2016), and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (2016). Pioneer Theatre Guild has put on several popular productions including Les Misérables, Disney's Beauty and the Beast, Little Shop of Horrors, Romeo and Juliet, Hair, The Wizard of Oz, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and Urinetown. In both 2009 and 2010 Pioneer Theatre Guild placed second in the Michigan Interscholastic Forensic Association's theater competition.[10]


Pioneer has three separate music departments: band, choir, and orchestra. Pioneer's band is split into four different classes, of increasing difficulty. It has a varsity band, two concert bands(concert band white and concert band purple, the latter being higher level), and symphony band. Any students wishing to do band can be accepted to varsity band without an audition. Students wishing to move to a higher level band must audition. Pioneer also offers a jazz band.

Pioneer's orchestra program's hierarchy is similar to that of the band program. The hierarchy is philharmonic orchestra, two concert orchestras(concert white and concert purple, the latter being the step above), and symphony orchestra. Philharmonic orchestra is offered to anyone wishing to join orchestra. Students audition to get seats in the higher level orchestras.

Pioneer's music program won its eighth Grammy Award from the Grammy Foundation in 2015,[11] an award which goes to the best High School music programs in the United States each year.



  • Women's Track & Field and Cross Country: Since 1979, the Pioneer Women's Track & Field and Cross Country teams have won 20 team state championships, had over 200 All-State recipients, and more than 50 All-Americans.[12]
  • Field Hockey: Pioneer Field Hockey won 5 straight state championships from 2005–2009, and has 21 titles overall.[13]


Pioneer competes in the Southeastern Conference Red Division (commonly abbreviated SEC-Red) and has one of the greatest high school football programs in the state historically. Pioneer is second behind Muskegon in all-time victories at 699 (as of the 2011 season).[14] 2 MHSAA State Championships and 43 League Championships.[15]

Notable alumniEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Pioneer High School". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  2. ^ "Pioneer High School in ANN ARBOR, MI - Best High Schools - US News". Retrieved July 3, 2015.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Regents approve request for site preparation for North Quad". Retrieved July 3, 2015.
  5. ^ "Ann Arbor Pioneer High School: history". Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved July 3, 2015. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  6. ^
  7. ^ Sharon Woodson, "'Free school' stresses 'learning' rather than 'teaching'", Ann Arbor News, September 19, 1971; Sharon Woodson, "Pioneer II: a close-up look at what goes on", Ann Arbor News, January 17, 1972.
  8. ^ Miller, Janet (December 2, 2011). "Pioneer's Argus Planetarium needs donor for $80,000 in critical upgrades". The Ann Arbor News. Retrieved March 8, 2014.
  9. ^ Arndt, Danielle (October 24, 2012). "$100,000 donor steps forward to save Ann Arbor Pioneer's Argus Planetarium". The Ann Arbor News. Retrieved March 8, 2014.
  10. ^ "Pioneer High School Theatre Guild". Retrieved July 3, 2015.
  11. ^
  12. ^ "More than just a coach: The story of Pioneer High School's Bryan Westfield". USA Today High School Sports. Retrieved October 20, 2015.
  13. ^ "Ann Arbor Pioneer defeats Ann Arbor Huron 2-0 for fifth consecutive field hockey state title". Retrieved July 3, 2015.
  14. ^ "Team Records". Retrieved July 3, 2015.
  15. ^ "Ann Arbor Pioneer Pioneers Historical Michigan High School Football Scores Since 1950". Retrieved July 3, 2015.
  16. ^ "Ron Asheton". Retrieved July 3, 2015.
  17. ^ a b c "Death claims drummer Scott Asheton, influential punk rock pioneer and former Ann Arborite". Retrieved July 3, 2015.
  18. ^ "Scott Asheton". Retrieved July 3, 2015.
  19. ^ "Ann Arbor native wins Nobel Prize for developing new high-powered microscope".
  20. ^ "Keith Bostic". Archived from the original on February 9, 2007. Retrieved December 27, 2007. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  21. ^ Ann Arbor Film Festival. 2007. p. 4.
  22. ^ "Home » Steeplechase Films". Retrieved June 29, 2013.
  23. ^ "Ian Cole Bio :: Notre Dame Ice Hockey :: UND.COM :: The Official Site of Notre Dame Athletics".
  24. ^ "Ken Dyer". Pro Football Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on November 29, 2014. Retrieved November 2014. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help); Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  25. ^ "Records: Bob Elliott". Ann Arbor Pioneer Athletics. Ann Arbor Public Schools. Archived from the original on February 6, 2012. Retrieved February 21, 2013. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  26. ^ "Ann Arbor's 'The Good Wife' star Zach Grenier leads all-star cast in local 'Ajax' and 'Philoctetes' reading". Retrieved July 3, 2015.
  27. ^ Jonathan Marwil (1987). A history of Ann Arbor. University of Michigan Press. p. 34.
  28. ^ a b Battista, Judy (November 23, 2011). "The Harbaughs' Sibling Rivalry". New York Times. Retrieved January 11, 2012.
  29. ^ Wallace, Anise C. (July 24, 1989). "'Genius' Grant For Founder Of Magazine". The New York Times.
  30. ^ "PTSO Newsletter". Ann Arbor Pioneer High School. January 2004. Archived from the original on January 16, 2008. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  31. ^ "Pioneer grad Kara Lynn Joyce is 50 meters from 1st individual Olympic medal". Retrieved July 3, 2015.
  32. ^ Gilmore, Eric (June 12, 2016). "Penguins win Stanley Cup, defeat Sharks in Game 6". National Hockey League. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  33. ^ "Bruce Kimball Drove to Fame but Dove to Tragedy :".
  34. ^ Ann Arbor Public Schools Alumni
  35. ^ "Jack Robert Lousma". NASA. February 1999.
  36. ^ Michigan State University bio
  37. ^ "Louis Smith gets a well-deserved tribute from jazz students".
  38. ^ Paul Trynka (December 7, 2011). Iggy Pop: Open Up and Bleed. Random House Digital. p. 37.
  39. ^ "2014 U.S. Olympic Team Media Guide". Retrieved July 14, 2014.
  40. ^ "Ann Arbor Public Schools Alumni". Alumni Channel. Retrieved August 2014. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  41. ^ "Bob Seger reflects on growing up in Ann Arbor, looks forward to concert at EMU". Retrieved July 3, 2015.
  42. ^ "STAEBLER, Neil Oliver - Biographical Information".
  43. ^ "Frank Vatrano". Retrieved February 11, 2018.
  44. ^ "Brian Michael on Breaking Barriers For Trans Male Actors and His 'Queen Sugar'Role=". Missing or empty |url= (help)
  45. ^ Weller, Thomas Huckle (2004). Growing Pathogens in Tissue Cultures: Fifty Years in Academic Tropical Medicine, Pediatrics, and Virology. Boston Medical Library. p. 15.
  46. ^ "Jason Zucker - Denver Pioneers Official Athletics Site". March 26, 2012. Archived from the original on March 26, 2012.

External linksEdit