Since its inception, Florida State University has been involved in teaching high school aged students in addition to college students. When the legislature voted in 1851 to create two institutions of higher learning in Florida, Tallahassee began to organize a bid to have one of the schools established in town.
They began by building a structure known as the Florida Institute which began holding classes in 1855. The Florida Institute was not exclusive to higher education. High school students were taught here as well. The city offered this structure, as well as a monetary incentive, to the legislature and won the bid to create the new school. The Florida Institute became the West Florida Seminary in 1857 but continued to educate high school students as well as college students.
It wasn’t until 1954 that the high school department got its own building on campus. The Florida State University School, or FSUS, was created and more commonly known as “Florida High”. The school taught children grade levels K-12. Students from FSU and FSCW Education program interned at this school as part of their studies. In 2001, Florida High moved to a different location, off of FSU’s campus. Despite the move, Florida High maintains its close connection with FSU and, especially, the College of Education.
FSU Libraries is beginning the process of digitizing the collection and the first batch of records – issues of the student newspaper The Trident – is now live in our digital library. The collection can be accessed here. Those looking to donate material to add to our Florida High Collection should contact Sandra Varry at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are happy to announce that a new exhibit is on display in the Norwood Reading Room on the history of the Florida State University Schools, also known as Florida High.
In 1851 the Florida Legislature voted to establish two institutes of higher learning: the East and West Florida Seminary. The Legislature required the cities which would receive state funding for these seminaries to provide the infrastructure and startup money. In order to compete for the West Florida Seminary, Tallahassee built a school. Finished in 1855 and located near the present day Westcott building, the school was commonly known as the Florida Institute.
The Florida Institute was the earliest incarnation of Florida High. The Florida Institute educated both college and high school aged students. Since the Florida Institute became the West Florida Seminary in 1857, Florida High has been an integral part to the history of FSU.
In 1954 the high school department got its own building on campus, designated as the Florida State University School (FSUS or Florida High). Despite the moniker “Florida High,” FSUS was created to be a school for grade levels K-12. FSCW and FSU students in the Education program interned at Florida High until Florida High left the campus in 2001.
In an effort to make learning fun, the teachers would often assign creative projects. The students created newsletters and journals for their various clubs and classes. Florida High also had its own yearbooks: The Flahisco, which was published in the 1940’s, and the Demon’s Flame, which was published in the 50’s and 60’s.
In 2001, Florida High left the main FSU campus and moved to its own campus. Despite its change of location, Florida High maintains its close connection with FSU. Research performed by FSU faculty and graduate students largely takes place at FSUS. Research is a constant presence at FSUS, and important findings have been found in the fields of Literacy Acquisition and Mathematical Pedagogy.
The Florida High Exhibit can be viewed Monday – Friday 10am – 6pm in the Norwood Reading Room, located on the second floor of Strozier Library.
Colin Behrens is a student assistant in the Heritage Protocol & University Archives. He is currently working on a BA in Classics.