Located in the Southeastern United States along the Gulf Coast, Mississippi is considered the birthplace of the blues. Legendary blues musicians such as B.B. King, Robert Johnson, and Muddy Waters hailed from Mississippi. Mississippi has also produced several renowned writers including William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Richard Wright, and Tennessee Williams. For all of these cultural icons and the many others that Mississippi has produced it has the reputation of being below average in education. However, from 2019 when it was ranked 50th, it has risen to 32nd out of 50 as of 2023. Tupelo High School, the largest in the state, is a shining gem that continues to defy the odds and define success. Continue reading to discover more about the largest high school in Mississippi (and Notable Alums).
Tupelo High School at a Glance
|Name:||Tupelo High School|
|Category:||4-year public high school|
|Mascot:||Golden Wave/Lady Wave|
|School Colors:||Blue and gold|
|Selected State Championships:||State Football Champions 2017, 2022|
Discover the Largest High School in Mississippi: Tupelo
Tupelo is perhaps best known as the birthplace of Elvis Presley, one of the most iconic figures of the 20th century. Elvis was born in a small, two-room house in Tupelo on January 8, 1935. Today, the Elvis Presley Birthplace and Museum is a popular attraction in the city, drawing fans from across the globe.
Tupelo hosts the annual Tupelo Elvis Festival, a multi-day event celebrating the life and music of Elvis Presley. The festival includes live music performances, tribute acts, a parade, and other Elvis-related activities. Tupelo’s Southern culture is reflected in its historic downtown which features charming shops, restaurants, and historic buildings. The Natchez Trace Parkway is a scenic highway and historic travel corridor stretching from Mississippi to Tennessee. The parkway passes through Tupelo, providing opportunities for hiking, cycling, and exploring the natural beauty of the area.
Tupelo has historical ties to the Chickasaw Nation. The Chickasaw Village Site is located in Tupelo and serves as a reminder of the area’s Native American heritage. Tupelo is an economic hub in Northeastern Mississippi, with a diverse economy that includes manufacturing and healthcare.
Discover the Largest High School in Mississippi: Tupelo High School
As the only high school in Tupelo, Tupelo High School must meet the needs of a wide spectrum of learners. With 20+ diploma options, they have a vast range of majors with wide appeal. College preparatory tracks with Advanced Placement (AP) and dual-enrollment courses offer the scholastically inclined plenty of challenging and edifying classes from which to choose. Career-bound students can pick from 12 separate career pathways:
- Architecture and construction, major option: Construction
- Human Services, major option: Early Childhood Education
- Education and Training, major option: Teacher Academy
- Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics, major option: Automotive Service Collision Repair Arts
- Audio-Video Technology, and Communications, major option: Digital Media Technology
- Law, Public Safety, Corrections and Security, major option: Law & Public Safety
- Manufacturing, major option: Welding
- Hospitality and Tourism major option: Culinary Arts
- Marketing, major option: Marketing and Economics
- Family & Consumer Sciences
- Exploring Computer Science
- Work-Based Learning
By providing students with a wider variety of options and pathways to success, Tupelo High School experienced an increase in its graduation rate.
Tupelo High School’s sports teams are called the Golden Wave and the Lady Wave. The school offers the usual array of varsity sports:
- Baseball/ Fastpitch Softball
- Cross County
- Track and Field
Though they don’t dominate, Tupelo High School has won its share of state championships. The football team brought home the gold in 2017 and 2022. The Lady Wave basketball team lost in the final game of the state championship to Germantown in 2023. Several individuals at the school have won individual events and state titles in cross country, swimming,and track and field.
Once the final bell rings, there is still a lot happening at Tupelo High School. Tupelo High School offers a variety of after-school clubs. These clubs provide students with opportunities for community service and networking, as well as learning new skills and perfecting old ones. Each August Tupelo High sponsors a virtual Club Fair, at which students sign up for membership in the activities that interest them. With over 50 clubs from which to choose, there is truly something for everyone. From IMPROV club and Golden Wave Crochet club to J.A.M. club (Just Acoustic Music) and Future Medical Professionals club, the clubs run the gamut.
Discover the Largest High School in Mississippi: Campus
Tupelo High School was established over a century ago as a two-story brick and stone building with 10 classrooms, a study hall with a small stage, and a basement. The basement housed restrooms and athletic changing rooms. The original building was replaced in 1961. And then again in 1992, when Tupelo High School moved to a 75-acre campus with 14 buildings! The university-style campus has a technology center, a performing arts center, and a 2500-seat arena. There is also a gym, a library, and a 1000-seat auditorium. A separate building houses the freshman academy.
Discover the Largest High School in Mississippi: Notable Alums
While Elvis Presley, undoubtedly Tupelo’s most famous native son, didn’t attend Tupelo High School, the school still boasts some rockin’ alumni who left the building after graduation. From award-winning actors to brilliant athletes, Tupelo High has produced a star-studded cast of graduates who’ve left their own impressive mark on the world. Even without the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll in its yearbook, Tupelo still has something to sing about:
- Adam Grace, class of 1993, is a magician and Broadway actor.
- Alex Carrington, a professional football player with the Buffalo Bills, Houston Texans, and the St. Louis Rams is a 1995 graduate of Tupelo High.
- Chris Stratton is a professional baseball pitcher who graduated from Tupelo High in 2009.
- Frank Dowsing, who graduated from Tupelo High School in 1969, was the first black football player on the Golden Wave. He was also the first black football player at Mississippi State University.
- John Dye, class of 1981 is best known for playing Andrew on the television series Touched By an Angel.
- Rae Sremmurd is a hip-hop duo. Aaquil Brown (Slim Jxmmi), and his brother Khalif Brown (Swae Lee) graduated from Tupelo High School in 2012 and 2013, respectively. They have collaborated with Madonna and Post Malone.
- Russell Copeland is a former wide receiver with the National Football League. During his career, he played for the Buffalo Bills, the Green Bay Packers, and the Philadelphia Eagles. He is a 1990 graduate of the school.
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