Worthington High School History: A Cheat Sheet

With the renovation of Worthington’s high schools underway, this month’s exhibit looks back at the history of the two buildings, as well as the exciting changes on the horizon.

The Thomas Worthington and Worthington Kilbourne high school buildings will see extensive changes and improvement over the next few years, as Worthington Schools implements the second phase of its master facilities plan. As explained by a construction timeline released by the school district, "In November 2022, residents of the Worthington School District voted to support the plan…[and] approved issues that will help shape the future of the district.

"The tax levy, bond and permanent improvement issues that were passed will provide operational revenue and allow for the renovation and rebuilding of Thomas Worthington and Worthington Kilbourne High Schools.

"The bond issue will allow the district to renovate and replace most sections of Thomas Worthington High School and replace the natatorium. The changes to Thomas Worthington will include creating a larger cafeteria, while also adding and modernizing science labs and other flexible learning spaces.

"At Worthington Kilbourne High School, the upgrades will be centered around allowing more natural light into student areas, installing a new roof, and modernizing the heating and cooling systems."

These improvements follow a long tradition in Worthington in construction of and improvements to high school buildings. Historian Virginia McCormick documents these changes in the book "Two Centuries of Worthington Educational History, Worthington, Ohio". She describes the construction of the Worthington School on East Dublin-Granville Road in 1875, which housed both elementary and high school classes. In 1893, Worthington opened its first dedicated high school, just east of the Worthington School, which operated there until moving to a newly constructed building on West Dublin-Granville Road in 1916 (site of the current Peggy R. McConnell Arts Center). The two 19th-century school buildings were razed in 1937 to construct the present-day Kilbourne Middle School.

Worthington High School opened in the current location of Thomas Worthington High School, on West Dublin-Granville Road, in 1951, with over 450 people attending the September 30 open house of the first campus building to be completed. As reported in an October 4, 1951 article in the "Worthington News," student council president Dave Moody spoke at the event, saying "school is school where ever you go but learning is easy in a building like this and we (the students) want to thank our parents and the people of Worthington for making it possible."

McCormick describes how, following the approval of another bond issue for the construction of the central high school building, classes began there in the fall of 1952, although workers were completing the finishing touches and the formal dedication was not held until November 18 of that year.

For the next four decades, Worthington had only one high school; by the 1980s, however, it was apparent that the facilities would have to expand to accommodate population growth. In November 1988, Worthington voters passed a bond issue to construct a new high school, among other projects. A January 18, 1989 "Worthington News" article explained, "The new building has been described as 'lodge-like' in appearance, and will be constructed in a wooded area on a 55-acre site south of Hard Road, North of I-270 and east of the railroad tracks."

An April 24, 1990 article in the "Columbus Dispatch" describes how the district gave students in the class of 1992 the option to pick which school they would graduate from, as the 1991-92 school year would be the first year the new high school was open.

Worthington Kilbourne High School opened its doors for students on September 4, 1991. As detailed in the inaugural issue of "The Sentinel," the school’s yearbook, the community open house was held on August 27, prior to the season's first football game (and prior to the school's official safety inspection). The school passed its safety inspection on the evening of September 3, just in time for classes.

Worthington High School, meanwhile, adopted the name "Thomas Worthington High School" that same year.

As Worthington has continued to grow through the centuries, one thing has remained constant; the community's dedication to students and learning.