The 36 year old building with the boarded up windows and doors that stands today at East 79th Street and Superior Avenue is the second incarnation of Cleveland's famous East High School. East High School was coined a "20th-century schoolhouse" when it opened its doors on November 26, 1900. The "original" East High School was the talk of the town, as no other school in the city could compete with the grandeur of the $180,000 brick school building that opened at East 82nd Street and Decker Avenue. The present building, constructed just to the northwest of the original, was built in 1975 at a cost of $17 million dollars. The Cleveland Metropolitan School District closed the school at the end of the 2009-2010 school year as part of the District's Transformation Plan.
The original East High School initially offered only three courses of study -- classical, English, and scientific. It was run much like a city, as students elected a senior classmate as "mayor" and nine "judges" from each class, a practice that gave East High some of its uniqueness. The motto 'Noblesse Oblige" was adopted by East High's first principal Benjamin U. Rannells in 1900, providing the guidance that each graduating class carried on as it pursued life's endeavors. East High School was also known for its sports and won various titles and championships, both locally and statewide. "The Home of the Blue Bombers," with its blue and gold school colors, became so popular during the 1900s that the school's enrollment increased to over 1200 students within five years of its opening. "Eastites," as its students were called, proclaimed and believed in "nothing but the best." East High School even signed Olympian and professional football legend Jim Thorpe as its head football coach. Although Thorpe coached for only one school year, he did coach the team to a winning season of 8 wins and one loss.
Despite the fact that new East High School was built in 1975 amidst a declining urban neighborhood, it continued to be the pride of the community. As one looks today at the broken marquee out front that reads "Home of the Blue Bombers," however, the school is now marked as being the home of whatever neighborhood gang decides to tag it.
East High School came a long way from its three courses of study back in 1900, evolving to offer numerous courses and a wide variety of vocational programs at the time of its closing 110 years later. Although its doors will most likely remain closed, East High will never be forgotten by the many proud and diverse students that have crossed through them in the past.