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Rufus King High School

Rufus King International School
High School Campus
File:RKHS shield.png
An I.B. World School

"Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it; no idleness, no laziness, no procrastination; never put off until tomorrow what you can do today."
1801 W. Olive St.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 53209-6898
School type Public secondary (magnet)
Established 1934
(IB introduced 1979)
School district Milwaukee Public Schools
Superintendent Gregory E. Thorton, Ed.D
Principal Jennifer Smith
Teaching staff 113[1]
Grades 9–12
Enrollment 1,501[1]
Student to teacher ratio 19:1[2]
Campus Urban Area
School colour(s) Royal Blue/Gold         
Athletics conference City Conference
Mascot The General
Nickname The Generals
Publication The Sphinx,
literary magazine
Newspaper The King's Page
Yearbook The King's Crown

Rufus King International School – High School Campus, or Rufus King, is a public magnet high school located on the north side of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, part of the Milwaukee Public Schools district. The school is ranked the 130th public high school in the country by U.S. News and World Report, making it the top performing public high school in the state of Wisconsin.[3] The school offers the International Baccalaureate curriculum.

The school was formerly named Rufus King International Baccalaureate High School. After the addition of a feeder middle years program in the 2010-2011 school year, the high school was renamed Rufus King International School – High School Campus.[4]

Sixty percent of the students are of African American descent (compared to the state average of 11%), twenty percent of students are Caucasian and seven percent of students are Hispanic and Asian. Fifty-one percent of students are eligible for free school lunch.[5]


Rufus King's college preparatory curriculum is anchored by the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP), which was established at the school in 1979, the first such school in the state of Wisconsin and one of the first in North America.[6] The emphasis in the curriculum is on writing, speaking, critical thinking and independent application of knowledge. Full Diploma students are also required to write a 3,000-4,000 word original essay and volunteer at least 150 hours of service. All Rufus King students participate in pre-diploma and IB courses and more than half of the student population take at least one IB test with a success rate of 85.9% passing.[7] 95% of graduates matriculate to higher education.[8]

All students at Rufus King are required to complete four years of English, three years of Mathematics, Natural Science and Social Science, as well as two years of the same World Language. The languages offered at King include Spanish, German, Latin and French. Among the school's academic electives sociology, psychology anthropology, geography, aesthetics, philosophy, economics, business education and minority studies.[6]

Academic achievements

Rufus King is considered the top high school in the state of Wisconsin based on U.S. News & World Report rankings that demonstrated high participation rates on International Baccalaureate exams and college readiness index ratings. In 2012, the school was ranked the 130th best high school in the nation by the magazine, making it in the top one-percent of public high schools in the country.[3] Rufus King received the "Gold" ranking by the magazine.

The school was ranked the top public high school in Wisconsin by Newsweek Magazine in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010. In 2010, Rufus King was ranked the 324th top high school in the country on Newsweek's rating,[9] though the school has not made the list since Newsweek modified its ranking method, causing some local controversy.[10]

The school has twice been designated a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence (1982–1983, 1994–1996).[11] and has been named a New Wisconsin Promise School of Excellence for the fifth year in a row, one of only 15 schools in the State of Wisconsin achieving the title.[12]

On May 8, 2002, the school was visited by President George W. Bush, who delivered an educational policy address in which he recognized Rufus King as one of the top high schools in the country.[13]

In 2003-2004, King was selected as one of ten schools nationwide to participate in an ACT study, “On Course for Success,” on how schools prepare students for college coursework. According to ACT, Rufus King was selected because of its diverse student body and its students’ strong ACT scores in math and science.

In November 2009, Eva Lam, a Rufus King and Harvard University graduate, received a Rhodes Scholarship, becoming the first within the school district. She credits her award to the education she received through Milwaukee Public Schools.[14][15]

On April 4, 2011, Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. visited the school to encourage juniors and seniors to participate in the April 5th municipal and statewide elections.[16] He also confronted stereotypes about urban youth and encouraged student empowerment.

On March 30, 2012, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and County Executive Chris Abele declared March 30 "Rufus King Day" both on the city and county level. The proclamation was given because of great success by the school's academic and sports programs.[17]

On May 15, 2012, the school was ranked the 130th best public high school in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, making it the highest ranked school in the State. School district officials and local elected leaders held a celebration and press conference.[18]

On May 25, 2012, Milwaukee Public Schools announced that two Rufus King High School students scored perfect scores on their ACT tests.[19]

On May 22, 2013, it was announced that Rufus King was selected as the winner of the ACT national College and Career Transition Award, which honors a high school that displays “exemplary college and career readiness efforts." Rufus King was the only school in the nation to receive the award. It was nominated for the award by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers.[20]

Middle Years Campus

The middle school, which began its first school year in 2010, is part of the 6-12 program of Rufus King High School. The program incorporates the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (MYP).

Extracurricular activities

Rufus King High School has over 55 extracurricular activities for students to participate in, including several unique activities not available in other schools in the region.[21]

Honorary Societies: King has a chapter of the National Honor Society, recognizing students for strong values of scholarship, leadership, service, and character. There are also other academic honorary programs including the Spanish Honor Society, French Honor Society, German Honor Society, Latin Honor Society, Math Honor Society, Science Honor Society, and Theatre Honor Society. All of these honor societies participate in community service projects around the city.

Forensics and Debate: Rufus King has notable policy debate, student congress and speech teams. The school participates in the Wisconsin Forensic Coaches Association, as well as national districts of the National Forensics League and National Catholic Forensics League. Nearly every year, King debaters qualify for both NFL and NCFL national tournaments. Students from the school have won two NFL national championships in Student Congress (as well as the Presiding Officer Award), NFL national championship in Extemporaneous Commentary, Harvard College National Congress championship, NFL School of Excellence in Debate award, and two consecutive sweeps of the Wisconsin State Congress.[22] In 2007, seniors won the NCFL debate tournament.[23] The school continues to places high at regional tournaments and qualify for national tournaments with the NFL and NCFL. In 2013, seniors were first seed at the State Debate Tournament. They took third in the state and third and fifth place speakers. Rufus King became the first team in the state to sweep the Southern Qualifier spots.

Chess: The chess team participates in the Milwaukee Metro Chess League and participates city and state chess meets. In 2001, the team competed at the U.S. Chess Nationals in Kentucky.[21]

Mathematics: The "Mathletes" competition team has won at local, state and national levels.[24] Rufus King also has a Accounting Club that provides a link between students and business organizations in the Milwaukee area.

Science: Rufus King has entered a 15-member team in the Wisconsin Science Olympiad since its beginning in 1985. Rufus King won "valued participant" at the Wisconsin Science Olympiad in 1994, advancing to the regional competition, where it placed 13th in nation.[24] The National Science Bowl team finished fourth in the nation in 1994. Rufus King regularly enters a variety of local and national science and engineering competitions, earning accolades regularly.

Music: The school has a marching band, concert band, orchestra, jazz ensemble, chorus, and nine-time (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013) city champion drumline. The drumline also competes at several national tournaments.

Art: King students have received honorable mentions in the Wisconsin Regional Scholastic Art Awards Competition, the Photographic Society of America Awards Competition[25] and the U.S. Congressional Art Competition.[26]

Theater: Rufus King’s theater program is a partner in education initiatives with several professional companies, including Milwaukee Shakespeare, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, NextAct Theatre, Milwaukee Rep and Spiral Theater. They hold several annual school-wide plays.

Academic Competitions: The school also participates in an annual Model UN regional competition, a national Quiz Bowl, the United States Academic Decathlon and LifeSmarts.

Robotics: Rufus King has a very strong robotics program, which includes participation in the FIRST Robotics Competition. The team won the Midwest Regional Championship 2009 and 2011.[27] The team will be traveling to the FIRST national tournament in 2011.[28]

Ethnic and Advocacy Organizations: Rufus King has a variety of ethnic student groups including Asian Club, Black Student Union, Bollywood Indian Dancing Club, Friends of Islam, Gay-Straight Alliance, Jew Crew,[29] Latinos Unidos and Students and Teachers Against Racism (STAR). The Key Club participates in community service projects. Rufus King also has a hybrid chapter both Amnesty International and American Civil Liberties Union, which advocate for human rights and civil liberties issues.


Rufus King High School has a distinguished athletic program. All of its teams participate in the Milwaukee City Conference and WIAA Division I.

The school is most widely recognized for its basketball team, which has won five Wisconsin state boys' basketball championships. The boys' basketball team achieved a #17 national ranking by USA Today in 2003 and #22 in 2004.[30] The basketball team has received a 69.97 national power ranking by Sports Power.[31] In 2012, both the girls basketball and boys basketball teams went to the state Division 1 basketball finals, though both were unsuccessful.[32]

Rufus King's traditional rival is Riverside University High School. It is also part of a three-way rivalry with Washington High School and Vincent High School in boys' basketball. These schools have accounted for 14 of the last 23 Division 1 boys' basketball championships in Wisconsin.[33]

Notable alumni

See also


External links

  • Official website

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