Cleveland Heights High School


Cleveland Heights High School, referred to simply as "Heights," originated in 1901 on the site of the present-day Boulevard Elementary School, near the intersection of Lee Road and Euclid Heights Boulevard. Cleveland Heights High School's first graduating class, in 1907, numbered just five students. The school soon became too small for the growing student body and a new Cleveland Heights High School, designed by Walker and Weeks and fronting Lee Road just north of Euclid heights Boulevard, opened in 1916. It too was soon deemed inadequate.

The current Cleveland Heights High School at Cedar and Lee Roads was constructed in 1926, with the previous school rechristened Roosevelt Junior High. The new "Heights" was built to resemble a Tudor castle, featuring a clock tower and high columns that framed a grand main entrance. Architects and school officials tried to make sure that the new school would be large enough to accommodate the ever-growing district's needs. Indeed, a headline from a few months before the school's opening declared, "New Heights High Dwarfs Old One." The same article commented on the school's "mammoth stage" and marveled at the fact that "wires for a radio have been put in every room with a central apparatus in the office to relay outside programs." When it opened, the school was called "one of the most beautiful and commodious school edifices in Greater Cleveland."

Nonetheless, expansions to Heights High over the years were necessary to accommodate a student body that at one time approached 3,000. Perhaps the most noticeable of these changes occurred in the 1960s when a new "Science Wing" added along Cedar Road closed off the front of the school, creating an interior courtyard. As enrollment is now much lower, this long-controversial segment of the school will be removed as part of a massive renovation to be completed in mid 2017.

Heights High has always been known for its excellent academics, particularly in the music and drama departments. Still, many methods of education have necessarily changed. In 2004, Heights became a pilot school for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Small Schools movement, dividing the one big school into five small schools based on different learning styles and areas of focus.

Audio Show

The Dress Code Collapses

Donna Spence Boswell describes how the dress code came to an end at Cleveland Heights High School.

Separate Pools

Barbara Wherley, who attended Heights High in 1968-71, tells about the high school's separate pools for boys and girls and how students had to wear school-issued swimsuits, which often created some problems.

Thirty Among a Thousand

Barbara Wherley extols the benefits of homeroom, in which she got to know thirty classmates well--something that would have been much harder in her high school class of 1,000 students.

Jeans and Lunch Out

Barbara Wherley attended Heights High at the time when the school administration decided to allow students to wear blue jeans and leave campus for lunch.

Meeting Alumni for the First Time

Barbara Wherley gives an indication of one of the results of attending such a mammoth high school--meeting some of her one-thousand-strong Class of 1971 decades later for the first time.

More Than Merely Teachers...

Lisa Hunt remembers the teachers who had an impact on her as a student at Heights High in the mid-1980s.

A Whole Mess of Fun

Lisa Hunt remembers setting up the decorations for the Heights High homecoming dance in the late 1980s.

Photos Show

Heights High, Circa 1926

This view of Cleveland Heights High School was taken from the southwest corner of Derbyshire and Lee Roads. It was probably taken sometime not long after construction on the school had finished.

Image courtesy of Cleveland Heights Historical Society

Heights High Band, 1936

The Cleveland Heights High School Marching Band forms an "H' on their home football field during a game against Lakewood High School.

Image courtesy of Cleveland Heights Historical Society

Spring Concert, 1948

The Cleveland Heights High School Concert Band performs their annual spring concert at the school's auditorium in 1948. Heights has long been noted for its strong music programs, benefiting from the involvement of members of the Cleveland Orchestra.

Image courtesy of Cleveland Heights Historical Society

Aerial View, 1951

Cedar Road runs in the foreground of this aerial view of Cleveland Heights High School from 1951. Renovations in the 1970s would alter the school's appearance, adding new sections along Cedar Road in front of the original 1926 building, where in this image there is only a lawn.

Image courtesy of Cleveland Heights Historical Society

Expansion Sketch, 1960s

This artist's rendering shows the expansion plan instituted at Heights High School during the 1960s. The new addition added along Cedar Road blocked much of the street-level view of the original school building and created an interior courtyard where an open lawn previously stood.

Image courtesy of Cleveland Heights Historical Society

View From the Top, 1928

This is the view from an upper floor of the high school in 1928, looking south from the front of the building towards Cedar and Kildare Roads.

Image courtesy of Cleveland Heights Historical Society

Women's Gym Class, 1928

Female students perform calisthenics in the Heights High gymnasium in 1928. At that time, boys and girls had separate gym classes.

Image courtesy of Cleveland Heights High School

Courtyard, 1975

A student speaks with a member of the faculty in the courtyard at Heights High in 1975.

Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections

Cite this Page

Michael Rotman, “Cleveland Heights High School,” Cleveland Historical, accessed March 3, 2015, http:/​/​clevelandhistorical.​org/​items/​show/​199.​
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