Tucson High Magnet School

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Tucson High Magnet School
Embracing Excellence Tucson High Logo.png
Tucson High School (Arizona).jpg
400 North Second Avenue


United States
Coordinates32°13′40″N 110°57′44″W / 32.22778°N 110.96222°W / 32.22778; -110.96222Coordinates: 32°13′40″N 110°57′44″W / 32.22778°N 110.96222°W / 32.22778; -110.96222
TypePublic (magnet) secondary
MottoEmbracing Excellence; Home of Champions
School boardTucson Unified School District
CEEB code030530
PrincipalShawna Rodriguez
Staff155.85 (FTE)[3]
Enrollment3,138 (2018-19)[3]
Student to teacher ratio20.13[3]
Campus size32 acres
Campus typeUrban
Color(s)Red and white
NewspaperThe Cactus Chronicle
YearbookThe Tucsonian

Tucson High Magnet School /ˈtsɒn/, commonly referred to as THMS, THS, or Tucson High, is a public high school in Tucson, Arizona. It is part of the Tucson Unified School District with magnet programs in Technology, Visual Arts, and Performing Arts. The school is located adjacent to the University of Arizona and is close to the Downtown Arts District. It is the oldest high school in Arizona, having been established in 1892[4] and then re-established in 1906. The school celebrated its centennial in 2006.[4][5] In terms of enrollment, THMS is the largest high school in southern Arizona and the sixth-largest in Arizona, with more than 3,500 students enrolled.[citation needed]


Tucson High is the oldest operating public high school in Arizona. On April 10, 1906, the Arizona Board of Regents resolved that as of September 1, 1906, students from all Arizona cities, having a population of more than 5,000, must have completed the 9th grade before enrolling in the University of Arizona Preparatory Department. Then the voters of Tucson School District No. 1 approved the formation of a high school district on August 8, 1906.

The first day of class in the newly established Tucson High School was on September 10, 1906 with 45 students who began classes in the Plaza School at 13th Street and 4th Avenue. After a few weeks, the high school students were relocated to a two-room building located at 1010 E. 10th Street, the current location of Tucson Unified School District headquarters.

In 1908, they moved to the newly constructed Tucson High School building at 501 E. 6th Street, which is currently Roskruge Elementary and Bilingual Magnet Middle School, and remained at that location until they completed their high school years. By 1910, only ten students from that original class remained as students.

Construction on the current Tucson High School Main Building began in 1923 and was completed in 1924, in time for the fall classes. Tucson High's Main Building was designed by Henry Jaastad and cost $750,000. The grand building with its ornate details, such as Corinthian columns, stood as an architectural masterpiece then and remains the same today. A magnificent icon, the 14 towering columns of the Main Building welcomed classes ranging in size from 175 in 1924 to the largest class of 3,500+ in 2016. In the fall of that year, a second high school, Pueblo High School (3500 S. 12th Ave.) opened its doors in the southern part of Tucson and, in 1957, Catalina High School (3645 E. Pima) opened in the northeast part of the town to accommodate the increasing number of students in the fast-growing city of Tucson. Although Amphitheater High School had been operating at this time, it was a separate school district that served just a few students living in what was then far northwest area of Tucson. Amphi opened in 1939 as the second high school in Tucson.

The 1987 film, Can't Buy Me Love, starring Patrick Dempsey and Amanda Peterson, was also shot on location at the school when it was known as Tucson High School.


First-place photography awards in AGFA national competition and other national recognition programs; five gold keys in Scholastic Art competitions; winners in the District graphic design competitions; band, choral, and drama groups have rated “superior” in local and state competitions, orchestras receiving "superior" ratings and "superior with distinction" (the highest possible rating) in the Fall of the 2015–2016 school year, and several music groups attending competitions in California every year, some receiving Silver (second highest award group) rankings and gold (highest award group) rankings to be given the chance to compete to perform in Carnegie Hall in New York; Academic Decathlon honors and high placement in the Southern Arizona Mock Trial competition; District recognition for “Outstanding Young Scientist;” students in the Math, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA)[6] program have placed high in state competition; several Regional Science Fair student awards;[7][8] two National Merit Scholar Finalists.

The School's Yearbook Publication, The Tucsonian, is a nationally recognized and awarded publication that often receives First Class ratings from the National Scholastic Press Association, and a nomination for a Pacemaker Award, the highest national honor in the field of student journalism, for the 2010 volume of the book.[9]

In 2013, Tucson High's theater teacher, Art Almquist, was named one of People Magazine's Teachers of the Year.[10]


Noteworthy programs at THMS include performing and visual arts; technological education providing comprehensive curriculum to all students with the most current technology available in these areas; an integrated program in humanities, arts, math, science, computers, bilingual and block English/social studies classes; the unique location enables students to take advantage of programs at the University of Arizona, Pima Community College, and the Downtown Arts District; award-winning marching band and jazz ensembles; vocal music; orchestra; mariachi; guitar; musical theater; folklorico; piano lab; film acting; studio photography; commercial arts; steel drums; environmental biology; integrated technology; robotics; and desktop publishing; and advanced placement classes are available in ten academic areas.[11] One of the schools most significant and controversial programs focuses on Mexican American Studies (MAS).[12] This program's curriculum is specifically designed to give Chicano/Latino students a more inclusive and culturally aware approach to education.[12]

Badger Foundation[edit]

The Tucson High Badger Foundation was founded in early 1982 to enable alumni, parents, community members, and business leaders to support the continued excellence of the education provided to students at Tucson High (now known as Tucson High Magnet School).[13] The foundation began as a group raising funds for a Jazz Band trip. By 1984, it became a 501(c)(3) organization. As of 2008, the group aims to provide financial assistance to Tucson High students, student groups, faculty and staff, which allows participation in special activities when funding is insufficient.

The Badger Foundation Board of Directors is made up of members who are alumni, teachers, and administrators. Jerry Strutz is the current Chairman.

Magnet program[edit]

Obtaining magnet status in 1982, Tucson High boasts four areas of specialized study: Visual and Performing Arts, Science, Mathematics and Technology. The magnet program involves 1,182 students.

Magnet programs in the Tucson Unified School District were established in compliance with a desegregation lawsuit. In order to escape the de facto racial segregation caused by neighborhoods feeding certain schools being predominantly of one minority, special funds were allotted to certain schools to develop special programs in areas such as the aforementioned, as well as ROTC, aviation and others. Students interested in studying these fields can opt to be bused to schools that are not their home schools, thus bringing a heterogeneous array of students to predominantly homogeneous schools. However, this has historically had questionable success.

School facilities[edit]

Main Building[edit]

Tucson High's Main Building was constructed in 1924 and was designed by famous architect Henry O. Jaastad. It cost $750,000. It has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places in Washington, D.C.[14] Second Avenue once ran North and South in front of the Main Building on the West side, and 7th Street once ran East and West along the South side of the Main Building before the campus expanded and eliminated these through streets, an area now known as “The Mall”. Located in the Main Building: Attendance Office, Registrar, Counseling Offices, College and Career Center, Activities and Athletics Offices, Administrative Offices, Auditorium, Library, Gallery, and what is known as the "Little Theatre", one of two theaters at Tucson High.

Interior of the library, this area, which was once a courtyard, now serves as an atrium.

East Wing[edit]

1965: music rooms become the east part (E-Wing) of the Main Building. The East wing is composed of music rooms, such as an orchestra room, a choir room, a band room, and other rooms used for music theory and smaller music programs. The E-Wing also has a tunnel that connects it directly to the back of the auditorium, allowing music students to quickly get on stage for performances.

Vocational Building[edit]

1950s: Vocational Building (V-Building) is built in a modern architectural style, containing 48 classrooms and 13 shops. This building also contains the security office. The back wing is used to hold technical classes (i.e. Welding, Machinery, Auto Shop, and Computer Management). The basement of the Vocational Building contains a recording studio that is no longer in use.

Technology Building[edit]

The Technological Sciences & Fine Arts Building (T-Building or Tech) was designed to mimic the facade of the historic Main Building with a more modern feel to it, and was completed in 1996, it is the largest building on the campus today. The Majority of the schools Visual and Performing Arts Classes are held in the western end of the Tech Building as well as the Tucsonian Yearbook and Cactus Chronicle Publication workrooms. The majority of the schools Math and Science classes are located in the Tech Building's eastern end. Constructed along with the Building was a 2 floor Bridge which connects the upper floors of the Tech Building to the Main Building.


1939: The Physical Education Annex, including a gymnasium, is built. In the gymnasium sports as well as school wide events are held. The gym holds two full-sized basketball courts, practice rooms for sports teams, and three fully equipped machine rooms.

The Reconstruction of the Building was completed in January 2011. The renovation included the building of a second gymnasium called the East Gym. Between the East Gym and the Main Gym is the Hall of Champions, an area celebrating the dozens of state championships won by Tucson High School teams. Tucson High School's first state championship was in baseball in 1912 and its latest state championship was in boys soccer in 2014.


1945: The Physical Education Building is remodeled and a cafeteria is built inside this building. The building is currently only used as a cafeteria with staff lounges in the back.

Cherry Field[edit]

The school's Badgers softball and baseball teams have a complex with four fields (two softball and two baseball) at East 13th Street and South Kino Parkway. The current facility was built in 2008 replacing original ball park from 1947 and added flood control basin.[15] In 2018 the Tucson Saguaros played here.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-10-10. Retrieved 2009-11-06.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ Tucson High FAQs Archived September 28, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b c "Tucson Magnet High School". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Which high school holds title of state's oldest." Arizona Republic 25 September 2011: B3.
  5. ^ Tucson High Centennial Website
  6. ^ Sánchez, George (2007-06-27). "4 at Tucson High win top national MESA engineering honors". Arizona Daily Star.
  7. ^ "High school science fair winners". Arizona Daily Star. 2006-04-03.
  8. ^ "2006 SARSEF Award Winners". Archived from the original on September 29, 2007.
  9. ^ "NSPA - Contest Winners". Archived from the original on 2011-02-20. Retrieved 2011-02-18.
  10. ^ "Meet People's 2013 Teachers of the Year". People.com. Retrieved 2019-02-27.
  11. ^ 2008 Course Offerings Archived November 16, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ a b Acosta, Curtis; Mir, Asiya (Summer 2012). "Empowering Young People to Be Critical Thinkers: The Mexican American Studies Program in Tucson" (PDF). Voices in Urban Education. 34: 15–16 – via EdLib.
  13. ^ "Badger Foundation". Retrieved 4 March 2015.
  14. ^ http://www.tucsonhighschool.com/history.asp
  15. ^ "What almost was: Tucson High playing football in a 20,000-seat stadium". allsportstucson.com. August 31, 2020.
  16. ^ "Alan Fudge". Arizona Daily Star. 1968-08-15. p. 13. Retrieved 2022-03-03.
  17. ^ Hansen, Greg. "2. Jim Grabb, Tucson High". Arizona Daily Star.

External links[edit]