Walnut Hills High School

Walnut Hills High School

Walnut Hills High School
"Sursum ad summum"
Latin: Rise to the Highest
3250 Victory Parkway
Cincinnati, Ohio, (Hamilton County), 45207
 United States
Coordinates 39°8′28″N 84°28′47″W / 39.14111°N 84.47972°W / 39.14111; -84.47972Coordinates: 39°8′28″N 84°28′47″W / 39.14111°N 84.47972°W / 39.14111; -84.47972

Type Public, Coeducational high school
Established 1895
School district Cincinnati Public Schools
Superintendent Mary Ronan[1]
Principal Jeff Brokamp[1]
Grades 7-12
Enrollment 2228[2]  (2012-2013[3])
Grade 9 412[4]
Grade 10 387[5]
Grade 11 332 [6]
Grade 12 346 [7]
Color(s) Blue and Gold[1]         
Athletics conference Eastern Cincinnati Conference
Mascot Eagle
Team name Eagles[1]
Rival Turpin Spartans
Accreditation(s) North Central Association of Colleges and Schools[8]
National ranking 36 (U.S. News & World Report, 2008)[9]
Newspaper 'The Chatterbox'
Yearbook 'Remembrancer'
Athletic Director Tom Donnelly[1]

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.[10] Newsweek named it the 53rd best public high school in America in 2013,[11] and U.S. News & World Report[9] 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 completed 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).[12]

The building's façade was inspired by Thomas Jefferson's designs at Monticello and the University of Virginia and modeled after University of Virginia's library building, including the iconic, domed library at the center of the structure. Both, of course, owe their original inspiration to the Pantheon in Rome. 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.[13] As of the 2011-2012 school year, these have been demolished. In 1960, a one-story Annex added 17 classrooms, including a language laboratory and typing lab, to the school.[13] 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 and state-of-the-art science labs replaced it in 1999. This addition was unique in that its construction was funded entirely with $9 million 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 DeHart 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."

An 8-phase construction project designed by SHP Leading Design[14] contracted by HGC and Turner Construction began in the 2010-2011 school year, with estimated completion in August 2014.[15] Highlights of the $56 million project funded by both Cincinnati Public Schools[16] and the school's strong Alumni Foundation include a new state-of-the-art music lyceum and athletic complex, including a new gym with seating a total of 1200 seats on 3 of the 4 walls, locker rooms, and a full size natatorium featuring a 25 meter, 6 lane pool. There are two tunnels, one going from the locker rooms and another from the band rooms were built leading into Marx Stadium for the sports teams and the marching band. The new gym had its first game on November 30, 2012 with a sell-out crowd and an 85-36 men's varsity win against Purcell Marion. A two-floor, 15 classroom modern foreign language wing was also built, along with 4 new outdoor courtyards around the school. Besides these additions, all previous facility interiors will be renovated, while maintaining the "classical" feel in the 1931 building. Every classroom will have air conditioning and wifi by the end of the renovation. The library will be refurbished and the dome's skylight which was ruined in the 2008 wind storm from Hurricane Ike will be repaired. The building remained open and in use, with 7 temporary full-functioning modular buildings (known to students as "The Mods") replaced classrooms currently under construction during each phase. In fall 2013 when all of the classrooms were completed, the mods were removed to make way for a second turf field--lined for football, soccer, and lacrosse--that will be installed along with bleachers, a concession stand, and a small building for batting cages, tennis walls, and lacrosse walls. Three more tennis courts will be added onto the three existing ones at the completion of the project.

Appearance in Media

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. Early in the movie, 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.[9]

An Honors program is available for academically exceptional 8th and 9th graders. The top 90 students of the 7th grade class are selected to be placed in the 8 Honors program for the following year. The history, science, and English subject areas are team-taught by three teachers in a block composed of the first three bells of the day. The program focuses on inter-disciplinary learning, in large 90 student groups as well as smaller classes of 30 students. See the listings for English 8 Honors, Science 8 Honors, and American History Honors in the Curriculum Guide.

In keeping with the classical format, emphasis is placed on ancient 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.

Student Publications

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.

Clubs and activities

Walnut Hills' Latin Club functions as a local chapter of both the Ohio Junior Classical League (OJCL)[18] and National Junior Classical League (NJCL).[19]


The sports teams have played in a number of leagues since the demise of the Public High School League in 1984. Through the 2011-2012 school year, in most sports, they played in the Cardinal division of the Fort Ancient Valley Conference. As of fall 2012 they joined the Eastern Cincinnati Conference.

In recent years the school's most notable teams have been their boy's tennis, soccer, and girl's track teams. In 2011, the football team qualified for the Ohio football playoffs for the first time in school history. The 2012-2013 boys basketball team finished the regular season 21-1, ranked #1 in Ohio and #18 in the country.[20] Throughout the OHSAA tournament, the basketball team's run was coined with the slogan "Going for Gold" and #GoingforGold on Twitter. They advanced all the way to the Final Four in the tournament where the game was played at OSU's Schottenstein Center. They lost to Toledo Rogers in a very close game. Isaiah Johnson was named Ohio's Player of the Year and Coach Ricardo Hill was named Ohio's Coach of the Year

Ohio High School Athletic Association Team State Championships

Other Athletic Accomplishments

  • Boys Tennis Singles 2003 Eric Thomas
  • Boys Tennis Doubles 2001 Eric Thomas & Jonathan Khoury
  • Girls Track & Field Cincinnati HS City Records - 100 m Hurdles - Amanda Mullins-Hall, 13.94(2002); Triple Jump - Tamara Fennell, 37' 5½"(2002); 4×200m Relay, 1:38.60(2008); 4×400m Relay, 3:45.89(2008); 800 m Sprint Medley, 1:44.10(2008); 1600 m Sprint Medley, 4:10.90(2004).

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 4×200 and 4×400 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.

Walnut Hills won the OHSAA Regional boys' basketball title in 1948. At the time, there were no state championships.


Notable alumni and alumnae include:

Notes and references

External links

  • WHHS Alumni Association Online
  • School Website
  • Fort Ancient Valley Conference
  • Walnut Hills Football
  • Walnut Hills Girls Track
  • Walnut Hills High School Library