Evansville Central High School

Evansville Central High School is a public high school in Evansville, Indiana. It is the oldest high school in continuous operation west of the Allegheny Mountains. It was established in 1854 as Evansville High School. The name was changed to Central High School in 1918 when FJ Reitz High School was built. Evansville residents usually call it simply Central High.

The school mascot is the Bears; colors are brown and gold. It is unknown who did the artwork for the school’s “Bear” mascot, but it is hoped that he received full credit for his work.

Central moved to its current location on the far north side of Evansville in the early 1970s. It is sometimes called “Vanderburgh Central” because of its location near the geographic center of Vanderburgh County, in addition to its status as the county’s oldest high school. For many years, it was the northernmost high school in the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation; it was four miles northwest of Evansville North High School. However, with the completion of the new North High School campus in northern Vanderburgh County, geographic correctness was restored to the name.


The announcement of the opening of the school, which is now Central High School, is found in the Evansville Journal for August 15, 1854. The opening date of the free public high school, which in now Central, was September 4, 1854.

Evansville High School opened on September 4, 1854 with an enrollment of 17 students – 8 boys and 9 girls. The school started on a quarter system with new students entering the high school in January 1855. The report at the end of the year states that the high school had a year-end enrollment of about 30. In order to graduate or move to the next level a student had to pass a very stringent final examination. The teacher administering the exam made it overly difficult, for fear that a very easy exam would reflect poorly on the teacher’s performance.

“On the basis of the 1887-88 graduation list, Ferdinand C. Iglehart has been publicized as our first graduate. He was the son of Asa Iglehart. He was accorded a full page with portrait and biography in The Annual for 1909. It is possible that he was the first student to go through a public ceremony of graduating or to have a diplomahanded to him, or he may have been one of several; we shall never know this definitely until we find a printed or written record made at the time the event happened. However, we do know that a goodly number of students completed the required course previous to 1863 and that they were recognized in public ceremony in 1898. The fact that others completed the course earlier does not in any way detract from the glory of Ferdinand C. Iglehart, who became a prominent clergyman in the New York area.” (Meyer, p. 100)


The Bears compete every year in the following sports: football, soccer, cross-country, tennis, golf, girls volleyball, basketball, swimming, wrestling, baseball, softball,track and field, cheerleading, and the Honeybears dance team.

Notable Alumni

Alan Benes
Andy Benes
Preston Mattingly
Aaron Patzer
Lee Hamilton
Walter Riggs
Dick Spain
Heath Phillips

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