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About The Schools


The building at 1901 Ellison, just a block west of N Classen Blvd in Oklahoma City and spanning the area from NW 17 to NW 19, has housed four different schools in its almost-century-long existence. For most of that time, it was home to Classen High School, our alma mater.

However it was built originally (in 1919) to serve as the city's only junior high school, and did so for almost a decade. Then as the city's population grew during the 1920s, the school was converted to a high school in 1925. Its first senior class graduated in the spring of 1926. From its opening until 1985, Classen graduated slightly more than 20,000 students. That became the high school we commemorate.

As Oklahoma City expanded in all directions, more high schools became part of its school system, and during the 1950s a new, larger facility came into being at NW 27 and May Avenue. The original intent was to move Classen to the new location and abandon the old building. However a legal issue arose: when Anton H. Classen transferred to the school system the land on which it stood, the deed provided that in the event it was no longer used for a school, it would revert to the Classen family!

The school board finally settled the problem by retaining "old Classen" as a high school and naming the new one "Northwest Classen" to distinguish the two. When the new one opened at the end of summer, 1955, students were allowed to choose whether to transfer to the new site, or remain at the older school. Most, but not all, transferred. The Class of 1956 was much smaller than that of 1955.

However, "old Classen" continued in service until 1985. Even after merging Central's student body into it, the numbers continued to diminish, so the school board decided to close the high school and convert the building into a "fifth year center" to keep it in use. The last senior class graduated from "old Classen" in 1985, and that September the building filled with fifth-grade students.

The fifth-year center continued until the spring of 1994, when once again the board changed the building's mission. It became a magnet school for grades 6-12 as the Classen School for Advanced Studies (CSAS), and opened as such in the fall of 1994. The first senior class from CSAS graduated in May of 1997. CSAS is still active, and regularly ranks in the top 100 schools of the nation.

8 responses on About The Schools

  1. My Mother and my Father went to Classen. My Mother graduated in 1945. My dad did not graduate from Classen due to being in the war at the time. My parents both played in the orchestra and I grew up hearing about the stories about how they fought for the first chair violin lol

  2. Actually Venita, my class, the class of 1955 was the very last class to graduate from Classen SENIOR High School. In the fall of 1955 Classen became a Junior/Senior High School until it was closed and reopened later as the Fifth Year Center.

  3. Hi there.
    I have been asked to help celebrate the 85th birthday of Jo Ellen Milner (class of ’48) and am looking for classmates or other contacts that may provide contacts, friends, or anecdotes from her youth.
    Can you Help? Her birth was 1930 and she graduated with David Hall.
    My email address is jr.smith@shaw.ca and I am in Calgary Alberta.
    Jim smith

  4. This history needs to be edited. I’m glad it is at least here.

    1. The last senior class to graduate Classen High School was 1985. After that Classen became a fifth year center.

    2. Fifth year centers only had 5th grade classes (Transitional year). They were not the same as middle schools. Middle schools have 6th, 7th, & 8th grade classes. Thus, the fifth year center did not graduate any seniors (12 graders.)

    3. Classen was changed to a fifth year center from the Fall of 1985 to the Spring of 1994.

    4. In the Fall of 1994, the Classen School of Advanced Studies (CSAS) opened as a magnet school, which graduated its first senior class in May of 1997.

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