Exterior of Northside High School.
  • The date was November 19, 1928, and Fort Smith High School moved into a new building on 23rd and B Street. Fort Smith was growing and had a population of 31,400. The new building was dedicated on February 15, 1929, just in time for the mid-term class graduation. That year 848 students enrolled in a high school that could accommodate 3,000 students. With such a large beautiful new building, many local organizations, as well as nationally known groups and individuals used the 1,060-seat auditorium for performances and events. Over the years, the auditorium has been visited by such famous people as Helen Olheim, opera singer with the Metropolitan Opera (1937-1938); Carl Sandburg, poet, biographer and entertainer (1939-1940); Margaret Brouke, war correspondent, photographer, author (1943-44); Nancy Gean , FSHS graduate and fashion analyst for Butterick (1947-1948); Nelson Bennett, world-famous model for painters and sculptors (1965-1966); and Shawntel Smith, Miss America (1995-1996).

    In 1934, the Fort Smith High School yearbook, Sounder, had been changed to Bruin. As the high school was defining itself, the senior class of 1937 hired Harry Alford of Chicago to write the Fort Smith High School Alma Mater, which is the same Alma Mater that is used at Northside High School today.

    In 1956, Fort Smith High School built an annex. By the following year, student enrollment was up to 1,738, making Fort Smith High School the largest high school in Arkansas. During the 1960-1961 school year, the Farnsworth Rose Garden was completed on campus. Fort Smith High School officially became Northside High School in 1961. Shortly thereafter, the Field House opened and a marquee was installed in front of the campus in 1964. With the closing of Lincoln High School, Northside's enrollment continued to grow.

    The improvements on campus continued over the next several years. First, the Grizzly Stadium was renamed the Mayo-Thompson Stadium. The campus continued to grow with the addition of the Fine Arts building, learning lab, and elevator in 1980-1981 school year. The Rogers Book Store was purchased to house the computer labs and kept its original name, Schlenker Building. In 2003-2004, the original gym was renovated with an unfinished floor, a film room, and new custom oak lockers. The original floor, possibly the only one of its kind, required special efforts to reseal and finish.

    In 1992-1993, Northside was selected as a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. Today Northside continues to strive for excellence. The enrollment for the 2003-2004 school year is 1284 with a diverse group of students. Northside currently has 11% Asian, 21% African American, 21% Hispanic, 3% American Indian, and 44% Caucasian enrolled.

    Fort Smith High School/Northside High School Principals:

    1928-1949 Elmer Cook
    1949-1973 Earl Farnsworth
    1973-1987 Frank Jones
    1987-1997 Bill Bardrick
    1997-2001 Dr. Barry Owen
    2001-2007 Dr. Ray Martin
    2007-2010 Martin Mahan
    2010-2011 Jim Garvey
    2011-2017 Ginni McDonald
    2017-2022 Keri Rathbun
    2022-Present Chris Carter