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 601 W. Stadium Blvd.
 Ann Arbor, MI  48103
 (734)994-2198 FAX
 Tracey Lowder, Principal


Union School
The Ann Arbor community opened Union School on October 5, 1856.  Its location was near the intersection of State Street and Huron.  The original building designed to serve a capacity of 200 students cost only $32,000 to build. Instruction is carried out by eight teachers under the guidance and leadership of Principal  Theophilus Abbott. Students could study either English or the Classics with special attention given to students expressing a desire to teach.  Many of Union High School graduates continued their education at college.

Ann Arbor High School

Union School is renamed to Ann Arbor High School in 1871 and doubles its size with the building of an addition to the high school. Six years later, Principal Judson Pattengill spearheades the addition of extra-curricular activities.  Additions to the school's curriculum evolved based on community  and instructional needs to include: Commercial, Industrial Arts, Home Economics, Physical Education, Vocational Education and Cooperative Occupational Education courses. 

The first edition of the Omega yearbook is published during the 1844 school year.  It continues publishing an annual edition every year with an exception when resources were devoted to the war effort during World War II.

Football traditions begin during 1845 with the formation of Ann Arbor High's first football team.  Over 50 years pass before Ann Arbor High in 1901 defines Purple and White as the official school colors.  The alma mater of the school identifies PURPLE as "the sign of might" and WHITE as "the sign of truth and honor."             



Tragedy strikes Ann Arbor High School with a fire in 1904 that completely decimates the entire building.  Ann Arbor High School is destroyed and it takes two years to rebuild a new high school.  During this time, classes met in local churches or rented office space in the community.   innovation from a tragedy has Ann Arbor High School utilizing its first portable classrooms. Reconstruction occurs at the same site with the replacement school costing $340,000.  Ann Arbor High School reopened to students and staff in the fall of 1906. Eventually the building transitions from Ann Arbor High School to become a part of the University of Michigan and is renamed the Frieze Building.  The building life span remains for over 100 years until the University of Michigan has the complex torn down to erect student housing in its place.

After a decade of school colors and with the 70th year of Ann Arbor High School football approaching it was only fitting that Ann Arbor High School have its own school song. Margaret Horton Cooley wrote the words for the school song "The Purple and White" in 1914. The musical tune was composed by Earl W. Moore, Dean Emeritus of the School of Music at the Univerrsity of Michigan.

The Ann Arbor News sponsors an essay contest in 1936 to find a nickname for the school. The field is narrowed to six options with Richard J. Mann, an Ann Arbor High School graduate, earning the first place prize of $5,000.  The winning nickname was "Pioneer."  Mann earns distinction later on by serving the Ann Arbor School District School Board and in the capacity as President of the School Board. 

Lewis Forsythe holds the distinction as the longest serving principal at Ann Arbor High School.  He began his service at the beginning of World War I and retired 29 years later in 1946.  His successor, Nicholas Schreiber, served with distinction for 22 years retiring in 1968.

A New H. S. for Ann Arbor High 

The Ann Arbor School District purchased 210 acres of land for $135,000 at the corner of Main and Stadium Boulevard. In 1953, three years after the purchase of the land, Trustee Ashley Clague turned the first shovelful of earth at the ground breaking ceremony to build a new Ann Arbor High.  Construction of the building took over three years to complete and cost exceeded $6,000,000.  Ann Arbor High's new building included both a large and small auditorium, specialiized rooms for band, orchestra, and choir, a gymnasium, pool, and planetarium.

Students, teachers, and staff helped with the transition from their old school building to their new school building. Finally on April 9, 1956 students were welcomed for their first day of classes.  The new high school easily accommodated its 1,374 students.  A special dedication  for the new Ann Arbor High School  was held on April 15, 1956.  The following year an intense reevaluation of the educational curriculum at Ann Arbor High School is prompted after the successful launching of the Sputnick satellite by the Soviet Union.  The post-war tidal wave of births labels children born at this time as "baby-boomers" and leads to a hugh spike in the number of students attending school in the 1960's.

Pioneer High School

Transitions for the High School in Ann Arbor

For over one hundred years the Ann Arbor needed only one high school in the community.  Expanded community growth during the 1960's  led Ann Arbor Public schools to initiate plans to build another comprehensive high school. After plans were underway to build the second high school the community re-christened Ann Arbor High School to be known as Pioneer High School.  The second high school was named Huron High School.  

A unique school year existed for these two high schools during the 1968-1969 school year with Pioneer High School and Huron High School co-existing as separate schools at Pioneer High School.  Pioneer students and staff attended from 7:30 am to 12:30 pm while Huron students and staff attended from 1:00 to 6:00 pm.  Pioneer bid farewell to Huron High in the fall of 1969 when Huron High opened it building to students in September.

Community growth continues over the next two decades and portable classrooms are added at Pioneer High School.  A 3 floor wing addition to Pioneer High School is added to meet the demands of an increasing student population.  Additional portable classrooms are added and nicknamed the 'Portable Village'.   Yet crowding conditions continue at Pioneer with its student population swelling to a peak of almost 3,000 students. 

After district studies, community forums, many meetings, and bond passage a 3rd comprehensive school building is designed for Ann Arbor.  Skyline High School opens its doors in the fall of 2008 to students under a phased in enrollment process with its first group of 9th grade students.  

Pioneer, close to the heart of town, and a stone's throw from the University of Michigan campus, proudly carries forward the Purple and White tradition in the new millenium in defining and implementing a 21st Century education.  


Ann Arbor Public Schools