Education

What’s the most beautiful public high school in Kansas?

Biplane installed at East High on Friday

On Friday, Aug. 18, 2017, crews hoisted a restored biplane over the gymnasium foyer at Wichita East High School. The project, years in the making, was financed by the East High Class of 1976 and other donors.
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On Friday, Aug. 18, 2017, crews hoisted a restored biplane over the gymnasium foyer at Wichita East High School. The project, years in the making, was financed by the East High Class of 1976 and other donors.

Wichita’s East High School is the most beautiful public high school in Kansas, according to Architectural Digest magazine.

“While many high school buildings might be rather bland from a design perspective, there are others that are veritable works of art,” the magazine said.

The list, titled “The Most Beautiful Public High School in Every State in America,” includes East High’s Collegiate Gothic-style campus, which spans 44 acres at the corner of Douglas and Grove in Wichita.

The school, built in 1923, originally was named Wichita High School. It changed to Wichita High School East in 1929, when North High opened.

The school has been updated and expanded through the years, as part of bond issues approved in 2000 and 2008.

Today the sprawling, red-brick campus – which includes the former Theodore Roosevelt Junior High and a building that once was part of Wichita Area Technical College – serves about 2,200 students.

“It’s an honor to be able to work in the original Wichita High School and to be in a place that has that kind of history and tradition,” said Ken Thiessen, East High’s principal.

The school’s signature tower graces several of the T-shirts and sweatshirts sold at The Ace Place, East High’s school store. Thiessen said students and alumni appreciate the school’s Gothic-style architecture, a nod to the era in which it was constructed.

“If you look at that (Architectural Digest) list, you don’t see many schools that were built in recent times,” he said.

“Tell someone to have a bond issue and build something like East High School over again – what that price tag would be,” he said. “We would have used up that entire last bond issue just on one school.”

When it was built in 1923, East High cost $860,000. Comparatively, the new Southeast High School, at 127th Street East and Pawnee, cost about $68 million.

Other schools included on Architectural Digest’s list of the nation’s most beautiful public schools include East High School in Denver, Colo.; Central High School in Springfield, Mo.; Lincoln High School in Lincoln, Neb.; and Will Rogers High School in Tulsa, Okla.

Suzanne Perez Tobias: 316-268-6567, @suzannetobias

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