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School History

Highlights of George Washington Community High School:

  • GWCHS was built on 12.5 acres that traditionally had been used by the circus when it came to town. GWCHS opened in September 1927 with 983 students and 35 licensed staff members; 56 seniors graduated in the first commencement.
  • The building initially cost $435,676 with four additions before the $27 million restoration in 2006.
  • When GWCHS closed in 1995 due to IPS budget constraints, it had 1,150 students enrolled with 92 licensed staff members. In 1995, 210 seniors graduated.
  • Original school motto Exitus acta probat “The goal is worthy of the effort.” Additional goal in 2000, “No Excuses.
  • Due to proximity of the airport and Conrail tracks, GWCHS was called “the home of planes and trains.”
  • Student enrollment peaked at more than 3,000 in the early 1960s before Northwest H.S. opened.
  • Visiting dignitaries have included President Lyndon B. Johnson, then Vice President George Bush, Gen. Colin Powell, Sen. Richard Lugar, Gov. Frank O’Bannon, U.S. Congresswoman Julia Carson and her successor Andre Carson, Mayors William Hudnut, Bart Peterson and Greg Ballard, Marion County Prosecutors Jeff Modisett and Carl Brizzi, U.S. Attorney for Southern Indiana Nancy Brooks and the Education Minister for the country of Israel. Author Jonathon Kozol also spoke at Washington within weeks of its reopening in fall of 2000.
  • Athletics achievements have included: two Boys State Basketball Championships, two State Football Championships, a Boys State Golf Championship and Girls State Track Championship. Ten graduates played professional basketball. Individual honors have included: four athletes named to the Indiana State All-Star Team, five named to the Indiana State All-Star Football Team, two Mr. Basketball awards, one Miss Basketball, 12 State Track awards, one State Cross Country award, two State Champion Wrestling awards, one Trester Award and one Basketball Hall of Fame recipient.
  • More than 95 graduates have given their lives in fighting for the freedom of our country.
  • Four staff members have written textbooks used nationally in schools (including two each in math and in science).
  • GWCHS provided early training for several college presidents, school principals, superintendents, and teachers as well as a movie actor and a mayor of Indianapolis.
  • George Washington is nationally considered a model school. The National Association of Secondary School Principals and the Coalition for Community Schools cited George Washington as a community high school raising graduation and college-going rates; the Washington, D.C.-based Coalition for Community Schools honored it with the inaugural National Community School Award in 2006; in 2005 GWCHS become one of six schools nationwide invited to participate in a Learning Communities Initiative; in 2004 the KnowledgeWorks Foundation of Ohio named Washington “one of the nation’s best examples of a school as center of community” and in 2003 the National Association of Secondary School Principals awarded Principal Eileen Champagne a Bridge Builder Award for leadership in developing intensive school/community partnerships.
  • May 24, 2006, 79 seniors graduate from Washington now featuring 1,100 students in grades 6-12, kindergarten and preschool; 100% of the graduating seniors passed the math portion of the state Graduation Qualifying Exam and 90% passed the language arts portion (an IPS record); 81% have identified the college they plan to attend this fall and 36 of them have earned $214,671 total in scholarship awards. A new motto has been added: “a proud learning community.”
  • In 2009, 100% of Washington graduates was accepted to postsecondary education, setting precedence for years to come.
  • Washington graduate Douglas Sprowl earned the top West Point Cadet Candidate Award in summer 2009.
  • A 2010 Indiana University study showed that Washington’s minority student—notably Hispanic males—were the highest achieving students in the school.
  • Since 2006, GW Dollars for Scholars has awarded 238 graduates $275,902 in college scholarships.