Amphitheater Public School District No.
Amphitheater Public Schools,
also known as Amphi or District
10, is the third largest public school district in
Tucson, Arizona in terms of
enrollment, with over 16,000 students. Amphi was established
on July 3, 1893, and presently serves segments of North Tucson (an area that is known as Amphitheater),
Adobes, Catalina Foothills, and the communities of Oro
Valley, eastern Tortolita, and Catalina northwest of the city.
||Dr. Vicki Balentine
||July 3, 1893
|Address & Location
||701 West Wetmore Road, Tucson, Arizona 85705,
||17,000 students (est.)
||Suburban (two-thirds), Urban (one-third), 109
sq mi (282.31 km²)
the Mexican-American War of
1848, American pioneers began to settle the Tucson area in
Ranchers and settlers developed
homesteads in the rural area northwest of the city along the banks
of the Rillito River. The community of Rillito was gradually
established, and by 1889 the Rillito School District was organized
(later to become the Flowing Wells School District).
Rillito residents desired a local school so district children would
not be required to travel to the Congress Street School in downtown
Tucson. The Rillito School Board proposed a site for a school, but
a number of settlers asserted that the proposed location was as
undesirable as the Congress Street School. These settlers resided
on the eastern edge of the Rillito School District and eventually
petitioned the Pima County Board of Supervisors to establish an independent
On July 3, 1893 Amphitheater Public Schools
became a reality. The founding board members were rancher and
assayer Edward L. Wetmore (namesake of Wetmore Road in North
Tucson), land investor and cabinetmaker Levi Marston Prince
(namesake of Prince Road in North Tucson), and rancher Joseph D.
The district's unique name relates to the geography of the Tucson
basin. J.D. Andrews looked north toward the Tortolita Mountains and the Santa Catalina
Mountains, east to the Rincon Mountains, south to the Santa Rita Mountains, and west to the Tucson Mountains and was reminded of an enormous
The original Amphitheater School opened in October 1893 with 11
students. In 1904, the district opened a permanent school building
on the southeast corner of East Prince Road and North First Avenue
in Tucson. Due to decreased enrollment, the school closed
temporarily in 1910, quickly reopening with the enrollment
increase. A final site for Amphitheater School was selected and the
new school opened in 1913 at the present site of L.M. Prince School
and Amphitheater Middle School on East Prince Road near North Stone
The school expanded to include four additional classrooms in 1924.
By 1928, the district established the Amphitheater Carnival, an
annual community event that endured until 1958. By 1934 district
enrollment had grown to over 500 students from 48 students in
1930s, district residents desired the establishment of a district
high school rather than continuing to send district high school
students to Tucson High School in the Tucson Unified School
District located near the University of Arizona in central Tucson.
Using a combination of
state and federal (Works
) funding, Amphitheater High School
completed in 1939 on East Prince Road under the direction of E.C.
Nash, the district's first superintendent appointed in 1937.
Amphitheater High School became Tucson's second high school.
The Amphi district experienced gradual population growth,
ultimately being dubbed Tucson's first suburb in the 1930s by the
Arizona Daily Star
residential and commercial growth progressed northward along the
Oracle Road corridor, additional school sites were developed.
district boundaries and population continued to expand with the
growth of the Tucson area, and by 1942, the district extended north
of the Rillito River into the foothills of the Santa Catalina
Mountains north of Tucson. By 1943, the district
boundaries were finalized and extended north to the Pima
Dramatic growth transformed the
district in the 1950s from a rural district into one of relatively
urban character. Marion Donaldson was hired as district
superintendent in 1951 and served in such a capacity until 1967,
directing the development of the district.
Donaldson brought innovation in educational programs that received
national recognition and also championed the construction of new
schools in a community with a very limited tax base. A new middle
school was constructed with federal funds and later bond money. By
1956, the middle school on West Yavapai Road became the campus for
Amphitheater High School and the old building on East Prince Road
became Amphitheater Middle School.
The tremendous growth in the Tucson area following World War II
in the 1950s prompted changes in
the district. A divide gradually emerged in the district between
the urban neighborhoods of North Tucson and the increasingly
affluent suburbs north of the Rillito River. There was a continuing
effort to purchase land for future school sites in the face of
rising land costs in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains.
In 1955 a parcel northwest of North Oracle Road and West Ina Road
cost the district $7,000 and was considered too far north and too
costly. The parcel became the site of Winifred Harelson School in
1960. In 1958, Lawrence W. Cross became the assistant
superintendent for the district.
The construction of Walker School in 1963 north of the Rillito
River brought the “open classroom” and educational innovations to
the district under the leadership of Evelyn Carswell as principal.
The concept for learning at Walker School was focused on the
individual student and individualized schedules, small and large
group settings, and an ungraded school. These innovations brought
national attention to the Amphitheater District, but eventually
these changes were perceived as too radical and a return to more
traditional educational structure was the final outcome.
in the fall of 1962, the Canyon del Oro School opened at the base of Pusch Ridge in the Santa Catalina Mountains serving as a middle
school and later the district's second high school (beginning in
the fall of 1964).
CDO's first graduating class was in the
summer of 1968. Population growth continued in the district as
additional schools opened. By 2001, the district opened a third high
school (Ironwood Ridge High School) to meet the growth needs in Oro
Valley and the north side of the district.
At present, Amphi has a current enrollment of over 16,000 students
across the district 
. Only Tucson Unified School
and Sunnyside Unified School
enroll more students in the Tucson metropolitan area.
an economically diverse district, serving disadvantaged communities in North Tucson, and
affluent communities in Oro Valley and the Catalina Foothills .
The following is a table of the schools of Amphitheater Public