Shortridge High School
Shortridge High School is a public high school located in Indianapolis, Indiana
Indianapolis, Indiana
Indianapolis is the capital of the U.S. state of Indiana, and the county seat of Marion County, Indiana. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population is 839,489. It is by far Indiana's largest city and, as of the 2010 U.S...

. Opened in 1864, it is the oldest free, public high school in the state. Following a period from 1981 to 2009, when it was converted to a middle school, the facility was reopened in 2009 as a high school with a special concentration in the study of law and public policy.

Shortridge is known for having an unusually large number of well-known or highly accomplished alumni/ae. Among them was the late author Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. was a 20th century American writer. His works such as Cat's Cradle , Slaughterhouse-Five and Breakfast of Champions blend satire, gallows humor and science fiction. He was known for his humanist beliefs and was honorary president of the American Humanist Association.-Early...

 who once said of his alma mater
Alma mater
Alma mater , pronounced ), was used in ancient Rome as a title for various mother goddesses, especially Ceres or Cybele, and in Christianity for the Virgin Mary.-General term:...

The academic excellence and unique social ambience of the school in the 1950s were described in the novel Going All The Way by Shortridge alumnus Dan Wakefield
Dan Wakefield
Dan Wakefield is an American novelist, journalist and screenwriter. His best-selling novels, Going All the Way and Starting Over were made into feature films...

 (published in 1970 and adapted to film in 1997).


Shortridge has a long and interesting history. It was established as the Indianapolis High School in 1864 as the state’s first free high school. Abram C. Shortridge was recruited from Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

 to become school superintendent
Superintendent (education)
In education in the United States, a superintendent is an individual who has executive oversight and administration rights, usually within an educational entity or organization....

 in 1863. Shortridge was a strict educator when it came to drilling student
A student is a learner, or someone who attends an educational institution. In some nations, the English term is reserved for those who attend university, while a schoolchild under the age of eighteen is called a pupil in English...

s and faculty alike. However, he was innovative in many ways, including the hiring of female teachers and the admission of African-American students. By 1878, Shortridge High School served 502 students.

The school was the lightning rod for civil rights almost from the beginning. At its inception it was primarily white. In 1903, in a football
American football
American football is a sport played between two teams of eleven with the objective of scoring points by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone. Known in the United States simply as football, it may also be referred to informally as gridiron football. The ball can be advanced by...

 game with Wabash College, Wabash coach
Coach (sport)
In sports, a coach is an individual involved in the direction, instruction and training of the operations of a sports team or of individual sportspeople.-Staff:...

 Tug Wilson substituted an African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

 left tackle by the name of Samuel Gordon. The Shortridge team captain led his team off the field after a scene. Gordon kept his sense of humor, noting he was sorry the game was called on account of darkness.

In 1927, a segregated all black school, Crispus Attucks High School
Crispus Attucks High School
Crispus Attucks High School of Indianapolis Public Schools in Indianapolis, Indiana is named for Crispus Attucks , a black laborer killed at the Boston Massacre whom many regarded as a revolutionary leader...

, was opened by the Indianapolis Public School system, in part to address the rising black population at Shortridge High. In the late 1920s, Shortridge High School ceased to be a neighborhood school. In 1928, the school moved from downtown Indianapolis into its current location at 34th and Meridian Street
Meridian Street (Indianapolis)
Meridian Street is the primary north-south street in Indianapolis, Indiana, United States.Meridian Street was formerly aligned with US 31 for much of its length in the city of Indianapolis, before being re-routed to a segment of Interstate 465. The street delineates east addresses from west...

s on the north side of Indianapolis.

The Depression of the 1930s was not kind to the country and this was seen at Shortridge as well. The PTA was active in raising money for both the school and its students. In the 1940s the school radio station, WIAN, was established. By the late 1950s, Shortridge was ranked among the best schools in the nation, according to Time Magazine. The American Field Study (AFS) foreign exchange program was established as the first of its kind in Indianapolis. This program continued until the school was initially closed in June 1981.

In the late 1950s, the school began to lose good academic students to other schools, notably the newly opened North Central High School on the far northside. An attempt to make Shortrdge an all-academic college preparatory school was adopted in the late 1960s, to try to restore racial balance. In 1968, the “Shortridge Incident” involving black students and local civil rights activists occurred.

The 1970s were spent defending the school from closure and scrapping the all-academic program. The school had largely returned to being a neighborhood school at the time it was closed in 1981.

While minority students had attended Shortridge from the very beginning, it was chiefly a white school until 1927, when the Indiana state legislature passed its first desegregation laws. During that period, much of Indianapolis felt the effects of the Ku Klux Klan's presence in the city. While the high schools were segregated by custom, the construction of Crispus Attucks High School as an all-African-American school created segregation by rule. Prior to the passing of the Federal Fair Housing Laws in 1968, black high school students who lived in an area where they could attend either Crispus Attucks High School or Shortridge High School were able to choose which school they wanted to attend. Many of these students chose to attend Shortridge High School and contributed greatly to the school's academic and athletic life. Black students who lived within the Shortridge district were also free to attend the school, and they too contributed greatly to the school's academic and athletic life. During the 1950–1970 period, the racial demographics of the Shortridge district began to change rapidly (e.g., the Mapleton-Fall Creek neighborhood, a part of the Shortridge district, changed from 82% white to 20% white). During this time and until its initial closing in 1981, Shortridge changed from an almost-exclusively white school to a predominantly black school.

In 1957, a Time Magazine article named Shortridge as one of the top 38 high schools in the US. As early as 1959, some on the PTA supported gerrymandering the Shortridge district to find a better racial balance at Shortridge. By 1964, some felt that ‘the Shortridge problem’ had reached a crisis. That fall a protest march from the school to Indianapolis Public School (IPS) offices was supported by 200 students. By 1965, the Indianapolis Board of School Commissioners turned Shortridge into an all-academic high school, beginning in the 1966-67 school year. An entrance examination was required for enrollment. In the 1966-67 school year only 272 freshmen enrolled, 46% of whom were black. Though efforts were made in the next four years to increase enrollment, they were not effective in the long run. The 1966 elections saw the school board change, including the loss of Richard Lugar, a Shortridge graduate and academic plan supporter, who ran for Mayor of the City of Indianapolis. By 1967, a new school board voted 5-2 to abolish the short-lived ‘Shortridge Plan’.

In 1968, the United States Department of Justice filed a suit charging de jure segregation in Indianapolis. IPS responded with a desegregation plan which addressed only one of the three underlying charges. In 1971, US District Judge S. Hugh Dillin judged the Board of School Commissioners to be guilty of de jure segregation. The next 20 years would include an experimentation in busing and the eventual closing of Shortridge High School in 1981. The facility reopened a few years later as a Shortridge Middle School. Finally in 2009, it was converted back to high school status as a magnet program focusing on law and government studies.

The Shortridge Incident

In February 1969, a disagreement over what a student was allowed to wear grew into a major protest involving both students and local civil rights leaders at the school. Otto Breeding, a student, was arrested for ‘disorderly conduct’ after a disagreement over the unwritten dress code. He was asked to not wear a t-shirt advertising a radical black organization. Some students felt this was grossly unfair and attempted to disrupt the school, pulling fire alarms and chanting “black power” in the halls. The next day an ad hoc group of students confronted the assistant principal with four demands. The response to the petition did not satisfy the students.

The next day, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra is a major American orchestra based in Indianapolis, Indiana.Annually, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra performs 200 concerts for over 350,000 people. It is the largest performing arts organization in Indiana. The ISO is currently one of only 18 American...

 was scheduled to play a concert in the school's historic auditorium, Caleb Mills Hall. Some 20 students rose and left as the orchestra played "The Star Spangled Banner." The students eventually congregated at a youth project run by Rev Luther Hicks. Rev. Hicks calmed the students and helped them plan a non-violent protest in front of the school. In front of the school, the students shouted “Say it loud! I’m black and I’m proud.” With the student body inside the school watching, police were called. As with such marches all over the south in that day, the students and some adults were arrested and hauled away. Twenty-three minor students and seven adults were taken to the Marion County Jail in what one student called “ the most brutal thing I’ve witnessed in my life.” Most were charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. One civil rights leader, Griffin Bell, was charged with inciting a riot.

Marion County Prosecutor Noble Pearcy attempted to have the minor students declared incorrigible in his zeal to get tough with school unrest. This caused mixed reactions within the community. The police met with religious community leaders in an effort to get them to withdraw their support for the arrested students. The police even suggested that this demonstration was the sponsored by the Communist Party.

A Freedom school was set up to help the students keep up with their work, since they were all suspended at this point. The case eventually reached the Indiana Supreme Court trying to decide jurisdiction. Eventually all charges against the students were dismissed, and three civil rights leaders were given fines, with one receiving six months on the Indiana State Prison Farm.

The Shortridge Daily Echo

In 1898, the school established a daily newspaper
A newspaper is a scheduled publication containing news of current events, informative articles, diverse features and advertising. It usually is printed on relatively inexpensive, low-grade paper such as newsprint. By 2007, there were 6580 daily newspapers in the world selling 395 million copies a...

. It was the first daily high school newspaper in the entire country It continued its daily status until the 1970s, when it was converted to a weekly publication. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., and Donald Ring Mellett are two notable alumni who served as editors of the Echo.

The paper won many awards over the years. In its final year, the necessarily-brief Echo was still able to win a second place overall award by the Columbia University Scholastic Press Association. Edith Cassell was the last Editor-In-Chief and Chris Keys was the last sports editor of the Shortridge Weekly Echo when it ceased publication with the school's closure in 1981. However, this was not The Echo's last call. When Shortridge was re-opened as a Magnet High school in 2009, students brought back the Echo as well, published weekly.


In a state where basketball
Basketball is a team sport in which two teams of five players try to score points by throwing or "shooting" a ball through the top of a basketball hoop while following a set of rules...

 is king, Shortridge had its moment in the sun in the 1967-68 season. The Blue Devils won their way to the final game of the Indiana State championship, only to lose by eight points. However, over the years Shortridge won state championships in golf
Golf is a precision club and ball sport, in which competing players use many types of clubs to hit balls into a series of holes on a golf course using the fewest number of strokes....

 (five titles, three times runners-up), wrestling
Wrestling is a form of grappling type techniques such as clinch fighting, throws and takedowns, joint locks, pins and other grappling holds. A wrestling bout is a physical competition, between two competitors or sparring partners, who attempt to gain and maintain a superior position...

 (twice), track and field
Track and field
Track and field is a sport comprising various competitive athletic contests based around the activities of running, jumping and throwing. The name of the sport derives from the venue for the competitions: a stadium which features an oval running track surrounding a grassy area...

 (twice, and runners-up twice), and cross country
Cross country running
Cross country running is a sport in which people run a race on open-air courses over natural terrain. The course, typically long, may include surfaces of grass and earth, pass through woodlands and open country, and include hills, flat ground and sometimes gravel road...

 (twice, and runners-up twice).
Late in the 1970s the Blue Devils began to emerge as baseball power in the city. The Blue Devils reached the sectional finals in 1979, despite fielding a team of mostly sophomores. Notably Eric Johnson, a sophomore transfer from southern California, set a school record in 1979 by posting 12 Runs batted in, in a single game against Arsenal Technical High School
Arsenal Technical High School
Arsenal Technical High School is a public high school in Indianapolis, Indiana, United States which is run by the Indianapolis Public Schools school system. Established in 1912, the school consists of a , multiple building campus east of downtown Indianapolis and is the only such type school in...


IHSWCA Hall of Fame Wrestlers

  • Frank Anderson, inducted 1990
  • Charles Blackwell, inducted 1995
  • James Hill, inducted 1976
  • Dr. John Hobbs, inducted 1988
  • David Jeter, inducted 1981
  • Drayton Praed, inducted 1977
  • Coach Paul Dill, inducted 1973
  • Coach Harold Grundy, inducted 2009
  • Indianapolis City championship (5) 1967-68

Individual state wrestling champions

  • 1951-52, James Bose (138 lbs.), Richard Anthony (175)
  • 1952-53, Drayton Praed (154), David Jeter (165)
  • 1953-54, Drayton Praed (154)
  • 1954-55, James Hill (112), Frank Anderson(133), David Jeter (165)
  • 1955-56, James Hill (112)
  • 1958-59, Melvin Jeter (165)
  • 1962-63, James Blackwell (145), William Beacham (154)
  • 1964-65, Earl Price (heavyweight)
  • 1965-66, Charles Blackwell (154)
  • 1966-67, James Gardner(145)
  • 1969-70, Desmond Smith(165)
  • 1970-71, John Hobbs(105)
  • 1971-72, John Hobbs(105)

IHSAA Boys Track & Field

Team state champion
  • 1903-04 Coach Parmalee
  • 1907-08 runner up
  • 1908-09 runner up
  • 1914-15 Coach S Roach

Individual Champions

High Jump
  • 1904-05 Murat DeWeese,McLaughlin (tie 5-4)
  • 1907-08 Harold Morrison 5-8
  • 1908-09 Harold Morrison 5-7 ½
  • 1958-59 Gerry Williams 6-6.0

Long jump
  • 1905-06 Murat DeWeese 20-6 ½
  • 1907-08 Hendrickson 20-2 ½
  • 1908-09 Harold Morrison 21-3 ¼

100 Yd Dash
  • 1903-04 Russell Joseph 10
  • 1937-38 Alfred Piel 10.3

220 Yd Dash
  • 1903-04 Russell Joseph 23
  • 1937-38 Alfred Piel 22.7

440 Yrd dash
  • 1907-08 R. Hendrickson 55.0
  • 1915-16 Butler 55.6

880 yrd dash
  • 1904-05 Patton 2:11
  • 1950-51 Bob Bruce 2:00.4

  • 1903-04 George Steep 12 5:04.0
  • 1927-28 Patterson 4:40.1

120 Yard High Hurdles
  • 1915-16 Moore 17.2

220 Yard Low Hurdles
  • 1915-16 Wilson 27.2

880 yrd relay
  • 1928-29 1:37.8
  • 1937-38 1:33.7

Mile relay
  • 1935-36 3:32.2

IHSAA Boys Cross Country

State team champions
  • 1953-54 Coach Tom Haynes
  • 1954-55 Coach Tom Haynes
  • 1959-60 Runner up

IHSAA Boys Golf

Golf team state champions (5 - second most state championships in state history)
  • 1934-35 Coach Simon Roache
  • 1936-37 Coach Simon Roache
  • 1948-49 Coach Peterman
  • 1949-50 Coach Peterman
  • 1952-53 runner up
  • 1953-54 runner up
  • 1955-56 runner up
  • 1956-57 state champion

Golf Individual medallists
  • 1934-35 Richard McCreary 73
  • 1948-49 Peter Burkholder 73
  • 1949-50 William Kerr 73
  • 1954-55 Don Essig 73
  • 1955-56 Dan Burton 73
  • 1956-57 Charles Griffith 71

IHSAA Boys Basketball

IHSAA Basketball Hall of Fame coach George Theofanis (coached 1966–1969)

Basketball sectional championships (10)
  • 1924-25 Indianapolis
  • 1925-26 Indianapolis
  • 1930-31 Indianapolis
  • 1932-33 Indianapolis
  • 1935-36 Indianapolis
  • 1937-38 Indianapolis
  • 1939-40 Indianapolis
  • 1966-67 Indianapolis Coliseum
  • 1967-68 Indianapolis Coliseum
  • 1968-69 Indianapolis Coliseum

Basketball regional championships (4)
  • 1930-31 Anderson
  • 1932-33 Indianapolis
  • 1966-67 Indianapolis
  • 1967-68 Indianapolis

Basketball semi state championships (1)
  • 1967-68 Indianapolis

Basketball runner up state championship (1)
  • 1967-68 Indianapolis

Notable alumni

  • Andrew Jacobs, Jr.
    Andrew Jacobs, Jr.
    Andrew Jacobs, Jr. usually known as Andy Jacobs is a lawyer and a former Indiana state legislator and Congressman who served for thirty years. His father, Andrew Jacobs, was also a congressman for one term. He was married to one time House colleague Martha Keys of Kansas...

     - U.S. House of Representatives
  • Booth Tarkington
    Booth Tarkington
    Booth Tarkington was an American novelist and dramatist best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning novels The Magnificent Ambersons and Alice Adams...

     - author (attended but did not graduate from Shortridge)
  • Claude G. Bowers - newspaperman, historian, author, and US ambassador
  • Clay Trusty, Jr. - newspaperman, city editor and assistant managing editor of The Indianapolis News, chairman of Indiana Personnel Committee (The Indiana Plan) for development of young journalists, 2011 inductee into Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame
  • Dan Burton
    Dan Burton
    Danny "Dan" Lee Burton is the U.S. Representative for , and previously the , serving since 1983. He is a member of the Republican Party....

     - United States House of Representatives
    United States House of Representatives
    The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

  • Dan Wakefield
    Dan Wakefield
    Dan Wakefield is an American novelist, journalist and screenwriter. His best-selling novels, Going All the Way and Starting Over were made into feature films...

     - Author, class of 1950
  • Don Mellett
    Don Mellett
    Donald Ring Mellett was an American newspaper editor, who was assassinated after confronting local organized crime in his newspaper....

     - Journalist, editor, Pulitzer Prize winner
  • Easley Blackwood
    Easley Blackwood
    Easley Blackwood may refer to:*Easley Blackwood, Sr. , invented the Blackwood convention used in bidding in contract bridge*Easley Blackwood, Jr. , his son, professor of music, concert pianist, and composer...

     - internationally acclaimed composer, pianist and professor of music at the University of Chicago
    University of Chicago
    The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

  • Edward H. Ziegner - celebrated newspaperman, political editor of the Indianapolis News, 1985 inductee into Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame
  • Frank J. Anderson
    Frank J. Anderson
    Frank Anderson served as Sheriff of Marion County, Indiana from 2003 until 2011 when he was succeeded by Sheriff John R. Layton, and is the first black individual to serve in that post. He is the second black Sheriff in Indiana after Oatess E. Archey.-Early life and career:Frank Anderson grew up...

     - first African-American Sheriff of Marion County, Indiana, IHSWCA Hall of Fame wrestler
  • Honor Moore
    Honor Moore
    Honor Moore is an American writer of poetry, creative nonfiction and plays.She is the author of three collections of poems: Red Shoes, Darling, and Memoir; two works of nonfiction, The White Blackbird and The Bishop's Daughter; and the play Mourning Pictures, which was produced on Broadway and...

     - Poet and non-fiction writer, whose works include The Bishop's Daughter, a memoir of her relationship with her father, Episcopal Bishop Paul Moore
  • Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. - Author, class of 1940
  • Kurt Vonnegut, Sr. - architect of Vonnegut & Bohn
    Vonnegut & Bohn
    Vonnegut & Bohn, was an architectural firm active in early- to mid-twentieth-century Indianapolis, Indiana.Founded in 1888 by Bernard Vonnegut Sr., FAIA and Arthur Bohn , all the partners were German Americans and were trained in both American and German architectural academies, which gave their...

     and Vonnegut, Wright & Yeager
    Vonnegut, Wright & Yeager
    Vonnegut, Wright & Yeager was an architectural firm active in mid-twentieth-century Indiana. The firm was organized in 1946 as a partnership between the surviving partners of three Indiana firms: Kurt Vonnegut Sr...

    , class of 1902
  • Lebbeus Woods
    Lebbeus Woods
    Lebbeus Woods is an American architect and artist.-Career:Woods studied architecture at the University of Illinois and engineering at Purdue University and first worked in the offices of Eero Saarinen, but in 1976 turned exclusively to theory and experimental projects. He has designed buildings in...

     - experimental architect and artist, class of 1959
  • Madelyn Pugh
    Madelyn Pugh
    Madelyn Pugh , sometimes credited as Madelyn Pugh Davis, Madelyn Davis, or Madelyn Martin, was a television writer who became known in the 1950s for her work on the I Love Lucy television series....

     - writer for I Love Lucy
    I Love Lucy
    I Love Lucy is an American television sitcom starring Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, and William Frawley. The black-and-white series originally ran from October 15, 1951, to May 6, 1957, on the Columbia Broadcasting System...

     and The Lucy Show
    The Lucy Show
    The Lucy Show is an American situation comedy that aired on CBS from 1962 until 1968. It was Lucille Ball's follow-up to I Love Lucy. A significant change in cast and premise for the 1965-66 season divides the program into two distinct eras; aside from Ball, only Gale Gordon, who joined the program...

  • Marguerite Young
    Marguerite Young
    Marguerite Vivian Young was an American author of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and criticism. Her work evinced an interest in social issues and environmentalism....

     - a much published English teacher at Shortridge who received international recognition for her 1965 epic novel Miss Macintosh, My Darling
  • Mary Fink
    Mary Fink
    Mary Fink was a dedicated civil servant. Born on New Year’s Day 1916, Mary Emajen Lapinska was the first child of Dr. Lawrence Weill Lapinska, a successful dentist, and Mrs. Mary Edythe Lapinska. Mary was joined in 1919 by a younger sister, Betty Mae. Mary generally describes her childhood as...

  • Mary Ritter Beard
    Mary Ritter Beard
    Mary Ritter Beard was an American historian and archivist, who played an important role in the women's suffrage movement and was a lifelong advocate of social justice through educational and activist roles in both the labor and woman's rights movements...

     - Historian and feminist scholar
  • Maurice E. Shearer - Brigadier General United States Marine Corps, Led Marines in the World War I Battle of Belleau Wood France, Awarded Navy Cross, Army Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, French Legion of Honor, Aide to Secretary of the Navy Fleet, used USS Indianapolis
    USS Indianapolis (CA-35)
    USS Indianapolis was a of the United States Navy. She holds a place in history due to the circumstances of her sinking, which led to the greatest single loss of life at sea in the history of the U.S. Navy...

     as his normal flagship, US Ambassador
  • Max B. Schumacher - President & Chairman of the Board, Indianapolis Indians
    Indianapolis Indians
    The Indianapolis Indians are a minor league baseball team based in Indianapolis, Indiana. The team, which plays in the International League, is the Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates major-league club. The Indians play at Victory Field, located in downtown Indianapolis...

  • Noble Sissle
    Noble Sissle
    Noble Sissle was an American jazz composer, lyricist, bandleader, singer and playwright.-Early life:...

     - Musician/composer
  • Paul Harmon
    Paul Harmon (management author)
    Paul Harmon is an American management consultant, author and analyst, best known for his work in the field of Business process management .- Biography :...

    , management consultant and business author
  • Raymond A. Spruance
    Raymond A. Spruance
    Raymond Ames Spruance was a United States Navy admiral in World War II.Spruance commanded US naval forces during two of the most significant naval battles in the Pacific theater, the Battle of Midway and the Battle of the Philippine Sea...

     - Admiral - commander of Task Force 16 at Midway; as Commander of Central Pacific Force, later 5th
  • Richard Lugar - United States Senator, class of 1950
  • William Afflis
    William Afflis
    William Fritz Afflis , best known as Dick the Bruiser, was an American football player and professional wrestler.-Early life:...

      - Professional wrestler under the name of Dick the Bruiser
  • Clinton L. Hare, manager, organizer, and coach of American football
    American football
    American football is a sport played between two teams of eleven with the objective of scoring points by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone. Known in the United States simply as football, it may also be referred to informally as gridiron football. The ball can be advanced by...

    , lawyer, grocer
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