Stamford High School (SHS) stands majestically on Strawberry Hill Avenue and offers a rich history. As the city’s oldest secondary school, SHS enjoys the benefits of traditions, well-known alumni, vigorous school spirit, and an ongoing commitment to academic excellence.
SHS opened in 1874 and started as a one-room high school. In 1881, four highly educated young women comprised the first graduating class. Since then, SHS has evolved into an expansive learning facility of approximately 150 classrooms accommodating 2,000 students. After a few moves and growing enrollment, SHS relocated to the present site on Strawberry Hill Avenue in 1928 and was the largest high school in the state costing more than a million dollars at that time.
In 1934, an artist from Weston, James Daugherty, was commissioned by the New Deal’s Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to paint seven murals for the octagonal music auditorium at Stamford High. The PWAP was created to help keep artists off the relief roles during the Depression. Daugherty’s murals ran more than 1,000 feet around the room and depicted 200 historical figures from the fields of music, industry, film and science since the time of the Puritans, many with the faces of Stamford High staff and students who served as models. The murals took four months to complete. The paintings were removed from SHS during a 1970 renovation and discarded. Thankfully, the City of Stamford was able to recover and purchase back four murals. Two others are in the hands of private collectors. Two of the city’s murals have been restored and now are on display at the University of Connecticut’s Stamford campus and the Ferguson Library. The other two murals require expensive restoration. Replicas of the murals have been installed on Stamford High’s hallway walls and in the renovated auditorium, mementos of that important period in U.S. history.
One of Stamford High’s gems is Boyle Stadium. Home to the Stamford High Black Knights, Boyle Stadium was chosen by Gametime CT as one of the Connecticut High School Sports’ ‘Bucket List’ fields, calling it a monument of Depression-Era workmanship. Tucked away between meandering suburban Stamford streets and the glass and steel of the nearby cityscape, Gametime CT says that you feel like you’re in a colosseum rather than a high school facility, with the gorgeous rock-faced granite edifice adorned with Baroque-accented parapets that were carved by local masons under the Works Progress Administration, yet it still feels as intimate as a Rockwell painting. Everything about watching a game here just feels right.
SHS was once a football powerhouse. With a nationally renowned winning record, the Black Knights team and beautiful stadium were the envy of Connecticut. The stadium was named for Michael A. Boyle, the Black Knights’ coach from 1907 to 1938, who had 229 wins, 40 losses and 14 ties, earning him a nationwide reputation for excellence. Stamford High has won 20 football state championships, the last in 1971 – the same year former Black Knight and N.Y. Giants great Andy Robustelli was inducted in the National Football League Hall of Fame. The playing field, which was one of the first to feature AstroTurf and was recently resurfaced with modern synthetics, bears Robustelli’s name. So does the Wall of Honor.
The stadium can fit approximately 10,000 fans, which was confirmed in 2008, when the FCIAC football championship was moved to this site. That, and Boyle’s ancient aesthetics, is the reason why the league prefers to hold all of its finals there. Boyle Stadium was the stage of the league’s — and Connecticut’s — greatest games. It’s a special place awash in memory.
SHS curriculum now includes 15 Advanced Placement (AP) classes, a number of Early College Experience (ECE) courses, and several school-to-career academics that augment regular studies. Students also gain marketing and business experience by operating two stores between class periods. Profits help support student activities, including annual trips to China by the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) chapter. SHS features a school-based health center and a career center that offers vocational (including a work and internship program), college and scholarship resources. SHS also provides SAT preparation opportunities in both English and Math. Stamford High has 25 sports teams and more than 60 student-operated clubs.
SHS continues its strong tradition in academics, athletics, the arts, community service and leadership. The student body is more diverse than ever, enriching the environment. Approximately 90 percent of Stamford High’s graduates go on to higher education, including Ivy League schools, with the remaining majority going into the military or jobs.