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History of BGHS

Bowling Green High: A Century of Excellence

Following the city of Bowling Green’s charter in 1798, most formal education was conducted in private schools and academies designed primarily for young men.  While successful, these institutions were beyond the financial reach of the general public.

In 1883, the citizens of Bowling Green realized more educational opportunities were needed and the first public schools were established.  By 1900 there were nearly 800 students participating in the eight-year program. Since only a small percentage could afford additional education, the first public high school (BGHS) opened in 1908.  This first class of twenty-five met at the old St. Columbia’s Academy on Center Street. The initial class of five girls and one boy graduated in 1912.

The old building was razed in 1914 and a new one erected.  As the student body continued to grow a second structure was added.  In 1938, the first gymnasium was built and a new stage and classrooms were created from the former auditorium.  In 1951, a 4,300-seat gymnasium was added.

With desegregation in the sixties, students from High Street High joined BGHS and later the closing of WKU’s University High (formerly College High) brought another influx of students.  By then, it was obvious that a new school was needed as the Center Street campus was full without room for needed expansion.  

In 1970, a new comprehensive high school building opened on Rockingham Lane, and served students and the community until construction of a new school began in 2018. For more than five years the rebuilding of a new, state of the art high school included demolition and construction with new areas and features opening in phases, while students and staff continued to attend on site. The completed school, over 262,000 sq. ft. of space, opened in August 2023.

Why are we the Purples?

Many years ago, as our school was developing,  a stronger and more extensive curriculum was desired.  At the same time, Male High School in Louisville was also seeking similar standards for their students.  The leadership of BGHS and Male met and began discussions of how their common goal could be achieved. Eventually a plan was created to meet the objectives and the two schools became the first comprehensive high schools in Kentucky.

As their common goals were met, it was also agreed they would share the following:

  1. The school colors would be Royal Purple and Old Gold

  2. The school mascot would be called the “Purple”

  3. The block letter “H,” gold on a purple field, would identify the schools. As the only high schools in the area, H represented High School for students and the community.

In later years, Male High School would change their mascot to the Bulldog.  However, both school colors have remained the same and both continue to use the H to honor the history of the schools.