Open vision bar

History of BGHS

Last Updated: 7/15/2021 8:43 PM

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, the new comprehensive high school building opened on Rockingham Lane.  Since that time, modifications and renovations have occurred to create a state-of-the-art facility. Today, Bowling Green High is ever-changing and represents the diverse populations that make up our city.  Since 1908, BGHS has graduated over 20,000 young men and women and prepared them to take their place as leaders in our community and around the world.


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

In later years, Male High School would change their mascot to the Bulldog.  However, our school colors have remained the same. We are still the Purples and the gold “H” still symbolizes our alma mater and all those things that BGHS holds dear.