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The Schools of Decatur Township 

Decatur Township was erected as a township of Marion County in 1822, and was named after Stephen Decatur, a Naval hero from the War of 1812. School being taught in the township is recorded back to the winter of 1824-25. The first schools were founded and maintained by churches within the community, and it wasn’t until the 1870’s that the township trustee and taxpayers took over responsibility for the schools. The township had two high schools one on the north side of the township, Valley Mills High School, and another on the south side of the township, West Newton High School.  


The Beginning of DCHS 

On October 31, 1930, a fire started in a coal bin at the Valley Mills High School and resulted in the destruction of the building. Valley Mills students attended West Newton High School and for a short time both schools kept separate identities while being housed in the same building. 1932 is known as the last graduating class of Valley Mills High School with 16 graduates. The two township high schools, Valley Mills High School and West Newton High School, officially converged into Decatur Central High School in  September of 1932. One of the last graduates of Valley Mills High School, Carl Dortch, took credit for suggesting the ‘Hawks’ as the new high school’s moniker. In 1964, Robert F. Gladden, took over the education responsibilities of the township trustee as the first DCHS superintendent.


As the township has grown so has its school system with several updates, renovations, and new construction. In 1960 another high school was built to replace the first, and the dedication ceremony was held on May 7, 1961. The Decatur Central Middle School moved onto the same campus as the high school and is situated between the high school and the School for Excellance.  The Decatur  Township School for Excellence and Technology Center is currently located in the old 1932-1960 high school building at 5106 S. High School Road. DCHS is currently located at 5251 Kentucky Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46221 and was recently renovated in 2010.


Made possible by the Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation, Inc. and Friends of the Library through gifts to The Indianapolis Public Library Foundation.


For more information about Decatur Township history and school history:


Access the original news article from the Indianapolis Star regarding the Valley Mills Fire here. (link may require a subscription or an active account)


Access an Indianapolis Star article about the 1932 new school of Decatur Township dedication here. (link may require a subscription or an active account)


Access an Indianapolis Star article about the cornerstone being laid for 1932-1960 high school building here. (link may require a subscription or an active account)


Access an Indianapolis Star article about the 1961 DCHS dedication here and here. (links may require a subscription or an active account)


Also, visit the Decatur Branch of the Indianapolis Public Library at 5301 Kentucky Avenue, Indpls, IN 46221, for local history documents in the reference section.



Notable Alumni:


Frank Freeman (credited as Frank Inn)- famous animal trainer for MGM who trained animal stars such as Lassie and Benji. He was the first inductee of the International Association of Canine Professionals Hall of Fame. (Class of 1935)


Richard (Dick) Givan- Indiana State Supreme Court Head Justice (Class of 1936)


Morris Mills- Indiana State Senator (Class of 1947)


John Barnes- Owner of Panther Racing (Class of 1970)


Terry Lingner- Director of Sports at ESPN (Class of 1972)


Dale Henson- Director of Indiana Fire Chiefs Association (Class of 1975)


Jason Holliday- City County Councilor (Class of 1984)


Aaron Gibson- former NFL offensive tackle (Class of 1995)


Amy Cozad Magana- 2016 Rio Olympic diver (Class of 2009)




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