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Bartlesville High School (College High)

Built in 1939; Opened in 1940; College High Became BHS in 1982
BHS in 2017


1939 Campus
College High was constructed in 1939. Its official name was Bartlesville Senior High School and Junior College, and it originally served 585 students in grades 11-14. On January 8, 1940 those students, who had been attending Bartlesville's Central High School, moved 3/4 mile south to the impressive new building with its Streamline Art Deco styling.
1953 Entrance
Paul C. Norvell was the first Col-Hi principal. Some old traditions were maintained, such as the Nautilus yearbook and the Peppers girls' pep club. New traditions were also started, such as the "Deliberative Committee" which would serve as the student government for the next four decades. By 1946 Maurice W. Taylor was principal, followed by G. M. Roberts and then Carl A. Ransbarger until 1954. Students in these and subsequent years participated in long-lasting clubs such as Hi-Y, Y-Teens, Service Club, Trade & Industrial Club, and the B Club for lettered athletes. The B club sold Wildcat stadium seats and ran the concession stands at games, using the proceeds for an annual scholarship. New clubs in the late forties and early fifties included the United Nation Youth, Future Homemakers of America, United World Federalists, and Junior Red Cross. Foreign language clubs thrived, including the Latin Club & Senate (which later became the Junior Classical League), and the Spanish and French Clubs (sometimes grouped as the Modern Languages Club). Driver's education was first offered as an elective in 1949. Students participated in such annual traditions as the homecoming parade and bonfire and Sadie Hawkins Day.


John C. Haley
Sophomores began attending classes at Col-Hi in the fall of 1950, and the junior college closed. John C. Haley moved up to principal in 1954, a position he would hold until 1973. He had formerly served as teacher, counselor, and vice-principal. In 1956 black students were finally welcomed to Col-Hi from segregation's Douglass High School. Jane Morrison was the first black student to attend Col-Hi, with Principal Haley noting that Bartlesville was a leader in the state in integration, with what he termed a smooth transition. But Jane Morrison recalls racial taunts and how she was excluded from the prom, the YWCA, and some restaurants during band trips - it would take time for the most overt racism to be extinguished.
1955 Custer Stadium
The baby boom was on and several additions were built to serve the 1,000+ students on campus. Football games which had previously been played crosswise on the baseball field at the Bartlesville Municipal Stadium (now Bill Doenges Memorial Stadium) moved to a new field and stadium at College High, dedicated in memory of coach Cecil "Lefty" Custer.  He came to Bartlesville in 1924 and coached junior high football and many other sports for decades, and passed away in 1953.

The fifties brought such clubs as the Future Teachers of America, Fashion Board, Future Nurses of America, Key Club, Boys and Girls State, and various Science Clubs. Bartlesville hosted the state Student Council convention in the early 1950s, an honor that would not be repeated for forty years.

Youth Canteen
The late fifties and early sixties brought the Canteen, a popular hang-out on Price Road for local youth. It was built and operated by the Service League for over 50 years, and members taught card games and hosted tournaments. The facility offered dances with live bands and was in active use up until the mid-2010s when it became the new home for the MUTUAL Girls Club.


1961 College High
In the sixties, Col-Hi organizations included the Indian Club, International Relations Club and American Field Service, Youth Court, Medical Careers Club, Art Club, Math Club, Drafting Club, and several business organizations such as Distributive Education Clubs of America, Future Business Leaders of America, and the replacement of the old T&I Club with Vocational Industrial Clubs of America. 
1966 Aerial
The baby boom made for cramped conditions, with 1,985 students on campus by 1964-65. Accommodating so many students required the use of four portable buildings, and there were three different day schedules starting at 7:30, 8:30, and 9:30 am. That led to the building of Sooner High across town, and began the long-time rivalry between the Col-Hi Wildcats and the Sooner Spartans. Each school would burn the other's mascot during pep rallies the night before their annual football game.


1970s College High
The seventies brought clubs focused on students' personal interests and issues, such as Contemporary Music, Photography, Rodeo, Interracial Relations, and Afro-Americans. Other additions were the Secretarial Club and the John Baird Society; Baird's 1974 Calculus course was the first Advanced Placement course at Col-Hi. The character of the school was changing to keep up with the times. The traditional pep club disbanded in 1971, and the "Wild Bunch", consisting of boys and girls, was formed. Mr. Haley retired in 1973 and Jim Morrel was principal for a year, followed by Col-Hi's final principal, Dennis Pannell. Reportedly no proms were held in 1975 or 1976 due to protests over a rule regarding who could attend and also supposedly after a raucous assembly over changing a prom date to match a band's schedule. The Alternative High School Program, which was located at various sites, began in 1977. In the late 1990s, it would share the former Col-Hi campus with the regular high school.

1982: Consolidation

1983 BHS Seniors
Talk and controversy about consolidating College and Sooner Highs began as early as 1970 and a plan was discussed in 1973-74, but no action was taken. Decreasing enrollments led to consolidation proposals being revived in 1977 with formal committees on the issue in 1978. A September, 1980 bond issue for renovations and additions, which grew to include a swimming pool and gymnasium, was defeated by a large margin. Shortly thereafter, the board of education voted to consolidate the two high schools and re-establish Bartlesville High School. The rivalry between the Col-Hi Wildcats and Sooner Spartans ended with the establishment of the unified Bartlesville Bruins in the fall of 1982. Freshmen and sophomores began attending classes at the former Sooner site, which was renamed Bartlesville Mid-High. Juniors and seniors attended former College High, now back to being called Bartlesville High School.

1980s and 1990s

1992 Cheerleaders in Phillips Field House
Dennis Pannell's successor as principal was Ben West. The eighties brought a short-lived Greenway environmental club; another Environmental Club would begin in the 1990s. The Sadie Hawkins tradition was revived in 1983 with the first Snowball dance. The shift to Bruins led the Wild Bunch to become the Bru/Brew Crew, with many loud years of packed basketball games in the old field house. Advanced Placement course offerings expanded throughout the 1980s and 1990s, but there was also a decrease in elective offerings as core course requirements increased. In 1994, Bartlesville hosted the Oklahoma Student Council state convention for the first time in forty years. In the 1990s Ben West was succeeded as principal in turn by Bill Denton, then Jim Sisney, and finally Dr. Debi Boyles in 1998.

2001: Building on Excellence

2001 Building on Excellence
Transformed Campus
The twenty-first century opened with the most significant changes to this facility since it was constructed. The community supported a ten-year bond issue that would spend over $23 million to build a new fine arts center, field house, library, and science wing.

The first new principal for the twenty-first century was Jane Sears in 2002. Chuck McCauley assumed the post in 2005 and was succeeded by Teri Brant in 2008. The school continued to rack up numerous awards of academic exellence, but the number of clubs was diminishing as the new generations of students were preoccupied with opportunities outside of school.

LaDonna Chancellor became principal in 2012.

2013-15: Building the Future

9-12 Expansion
On September 10, 2013 voters approved 
another bond issue to expand the school to serve grades 9-12 by adding science rooms for sophomores on the north, other sophomore classrooms and a large cafeteria and commons area east of the Phillips Field House (in place of the existing connecting link), and a connected freshman academy north and east of the Bruin Field House.


1961 Willie Wildcat
The Col-Hi Wildcats were named after the oil industry's "wildcatters" and wore black and gold for the "black gold" coming out of the ground to build Bartlesville into what it is today. The high school mascot had been the Yellow Jacket until 1924-25. Incidentally, that was the same year Cecil "Lefty" Custer (as in Custer Stadium) became the junior high football coach. He would later coach the high school team for many years. The school's mascot, Willie Wildcat, was a prominent part of school spirit. 
Team Logos
As of spring 2019, the boys and girls teams had earned 40 swimming titles since 1948. The sixties and seventies brought powerhouse golf teams, with five golf state championships between 1972 and 1979. The Wildcats were state boys basketball champions in 1967, state baseball champs in 1969 and 1980, and took state in tennis in 1978, 1979, and 1982. A boys' basketball game between Sooner and Col-Hi at the Adams Gym tied a national record of seven overtimes in 1979. In 1981 the Col-Hi Cheerleading squad was the first in Oklahoma to attend a national cheerleading competition in Florida. The Bru Crew "pep club" began in 1985. The Bartlesville High School Bruins have racked up numerous state championships, including girls gymnastics in 1987, 1988, and 1989; boys basketball in 1989, 1991, and 1992; girls cross-country in 1991 and 1993; boys golf in 1984 and 1988; boys gymnastics in 1988; girls softball in 1982; and boys baseball in 1985. A dry spell ended in 2014 with 8 state champion girls swimming and cross country teams and two state champion boys cross country teams by 2019. See the BHS athletics page for details.