When construction began on Hickman High School in 1925, Columbia was at a tipping point. The population of the city had grown by more than 5,000 people between 1920 and 1929. The only high school in town, Columbia High School, which was built to hold 500 students, was struggling to accommodate 800.
In April of 1925, voters approved the Board of Education’s plans to buy 40 acres of land for a new school. David H. Hickman’s daughter owned the proposed land. David Hickman, the new school’s namesake, was a Missouri legislator who, while in office, had supported the bill to create public middle and high schools in the state. Three years after construction began, Hickman High School graduated its first class, the Class of 1928.
Although the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. the Board of education was passed in 1954, it wasn’t until four years later that Hickman High School integrated. Six students from Douglass High School, Columbia’s African-American high school at the time, transferred to Hickman in 1958. The Title IX education amendments of 1972 allowed female students to compete in athletics for the first time, and in 1974 Hickman High School elected its first female student body president, Joan Lowenstein.
As Columbia continued to expand, the need for a second high school arose, and Rock Bridge High School opened in 1973. In the ’90s, three new middle schools were built, and plans for a third high school began to form.
Eighty-seven years after Hickman High School graduated its first class of 129 members, 356 students graduated as part of the Hickman High School Class of 2015. Today, Hickman, one of the largest high schools in Columbia, boasts an enrollment of 1,725 total students, more than 25 AP course offerings, almost 20 athletic teams and nearly 100 extracurricular clubs.