Pensacola High School

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Pensacola High School
Pensacola High School

Pensacola High School
A Step Above the Rest!


500 West Maxwell Street


Pensacola, Florida 32501-1664




Public secondary






9 to 12


Florida State Department of Education


Escambia County School District


David Williams

Assistant Principal of Curriculum

Jessica Canales

Assistant Principal of Operations

Sean Roby




Maroon and White


Annona (as of 1906)[1]


The Prowler



Pensacola High School is a secondary school located near downtown Pensacola, Florida, USA.

The school celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2001 and graduated its 100th class of seniors in 2005; however, the school has not always been at its current location. It was moved to Maxwell Street in 1952. In 1969, a fire gutted the previous school building on Lee Square, prompting its demolition. Currently, it is the oldest secondary school in Pensacola.

The school is part of the Escambia County School District. A former principal, Norm Ross, is the Deputy Superintendent of Schools for the county. Currently, the principal is David Williams, who previously served as an Assistant Principal of Facilities and Maintenance.

After Hurricane Ivan, which struck the Pensacola area on September 16, 2004, Pensacola High School was damaged, especially in the gym (one of the four towering walls was completely destroyed). While large renovations were needed, the school remained open and in operation. The gymnasium, which had only recently been remodeled, was demolished in June 2005.


The first public school for boys in Pensacola was organized in 1870. A two-story building on Wright Street was erected by the School Board in 1875. It was known as the Pensacola Academy and its principal was John Wilmer. In 1886, a new building was erected on Lee Square, known as Public School No. 1. Its first graduating class consisted of Albert Reed and J. Whiting Hyer.

In 1905, Pensacola Senior High School was organized in the Public School No. 1 building. The school was a four-year high school, and its first principal was J. B. Lockey. PSHS's first graduating class consisted of Dudley Barrow and Nell Richards.

International Baccalaureate[edit]

Pensacola High School is the only school in the county to have an International Baccalaureate program as well as a Health Occupation Students of America honors program. The International Baccalaureate program was introduced in 1986 as a last-ditch effort to keep the school open; many students had performed poorly, and there were high dropout rates. The school district had given the administration an ultimatum: improve the numbers or be shut down. With the introduction of the IB program, the higher test scores helped bring up the average and kept Pensacola High open.

The IB program at Pensacola High was developed by Donna Dunson. Richard Kuhn served as the coordinator from 1994 until 2002. Under his guidance the program achieved great success, all the more impressive when considering the poor funding provided to the county. Upon his resignation, former teacher and District Social Studies Specialist Colleen Boyett served as coordinator. Under her leadership AP and IB course offerings were expanded, resulting in Pensacola High being named as one of the top ten high school programs in America by Newsweek magazine in May of 2005. Upon her departure to return to graduate school, she was replaced by Dr. Joy McMichael. In July 2007, however, Dr. McMichael became Assistant Principal of Curriculum, and Deanna Gordon (previously the IB World Literature teacher) became the new IB coordinator. Dr.McMicheal later left the school to become principal at Brown Barge Middle.

National Recognition and Prominence[edit]

In the news magazine Newsweek's published list of America's Top Public High Schools, Pensacola High School ranked as follows:

2003 - #188[2]
2005 - #8[3]
2006 - #38[4]
2007 - #38[5]
2008 - #42[6]
2009 - #53[7]

In 2007, Pensacola High School was ranked #36 by the Washington Post based on data collected in 2006. However, it is to be noted that this formula does not take high performing schools with SAT averages over 1300 math and critical reading and ACT averages over 27 into account.[8]

Extracurricular programs[edit]

PHS features a variety of athletic programs; many of which often do well at the district and occasionally state level. Those are boys' football, weightlifting, and golf and girls' volleyball, basketball, soccer, softball, cross country, track and field, swimming and diving, and tennis.

PHS also currently features three strong academic extracurricular activities which have enjoyed great success in the county/northwest Florida/state level:

  • Scholars/Quiz Bowl (Academic Team) which recently had a senior make it onto Team Florida which placed 2nd by one point in the Panasonic Academic Challenge. In 2007, it swept all six spots in the Escambia County All Star Academic Team making it the first time any one school took all the spots. It was also the first time a freshman made the team.[9]
  • Mu Alpha Theta (Math Team) which attends three regional competitions and the Milton math competition. The Pensacola High School math team consistently has individuals placing in the top ten and teams placing in the top five. It usually also places in the sweepstakes division. In the Milton math competition, Pensacola High School has exerted its dominance over the more local area schools for many years.
  • Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFJROTC) was established on 28 October 1966 as one of the original 20 AFJROTC programs in the U.S., and is currently the only AFJROTC Program in Escambia County. The AFJROTC FL-12 Color Guard was recently recognized as the 4th best in the Nation after competing at the 2024 USAF Open Drill Nationals Competition in Dayton, OH on 16 March 2024.

There are also band and cheerleading programs as well as an active Student Government Association. Although the school's newspaper, The Prowler, has not been active for several years, it will be up and running as of the 2008-2009 school year.

Notable Alumni[edit]

See Also[edit]


External links[edit]