Cooley High School
Thomas M. Cooley High School Address 15055 Hubbell Avenue
Detroit, Michigan 48227
Information School type Public Status Closed in 2010 School district Detroit Public Schools Grades 9-12 Language English Area Urban Color(s) cardinal red and black Mascot Cardinals
Thomas M. Cooley High School is located at the intersection of Hubbell Avenue and Chalfonte Street, on the northwest side of Detroit, Michigan. The three-story, Mediterranean Revival-style facility opened its doors on September 4, 1928.
The school was named in honor of Thomas M. Cooley, a nineteenth-century jurist and former Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. Cooley was also a charter member, and first chairman, of the Federal Interstate Commerce Commission.
The early years
Cooley High School's history dates to the late 1920s, a time when thousands of homes were built upon land acquired through Detroit's westernmost annexation efforts in the former Greenfield Township, and village of Strathmoor. Cooley High was constructed to accommodate a rapidly growing populace on the city's burgeoning northwest side.
The first five years of Cooley's existence was marked by exponential growth. In 1928, the student population stood at 1570, by 1932 the figure had climbed to 3750. That same year, noted author and motion picture celebrity, Frank Buck visited Cooley High School; Buck thrilled a packed auditorium audience with travelogues of recent African excursions.
In the early years, Cooley students enjoyed a diverse offering of extracurricular activities; including such pursuits as fencing, table tennis, indoor track and field, swimming and diving, speed skating and ice hockey. Throughout much of the twentieth century, in a wide variety of sports, Cooley student-athletes regularly finished at or near the top in the quest for city league (DPSSAL) supremacy.
Beyond the sporting venues of metropolitan Detroit, the Cardinals of Thomas M. Cooley High School will be remembered as one of the most successful programs in the history of Michigan interscholastic athletics.
Cooley Cardinals: Legends of the Red and Black
1930s - 1940s
In 1932, the Cooley Cardinal football team won the Metropolitan League-Northern Division Championship; finishing the regular season at 7-0. In those seven games, only Mackenzie High School put points on the board versus the Cardinals. Three members of Cooley's legendary 1932 football team were selected to the Detroit News All-Metropolitan Team. That same school year, Cooley won the Detroit Public Secondary Schools Athletic League title in ice hockey and tennis; adding DPSSAL runner-up trophies in track and field and cross-country.
Claude Snarey, long time Cooley educator and track coach, was a six-time Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association track and field champion for Michigan Normal College (the forerunner of Eastern Michigan University). Between 1923-26, Snarey won MIAA titles in the 100, 220 and 440-yard dash. Claude Snarey was a 1991 inductee to the EMU Athletic Hall of Fame; the football stadium at Livonia-Franklin High School is named in his honor.
1950s - 1960s
Future Major League Baseball All-Star Milt Pappas led Cooley to consecutive Metropolitan League Baseball Championships in 1956 and 1957. Milt won a total of 209 games during his 17-year professional career; he pitched a no-hitter as a member of the 1972 Chicago Cubs.
From 1954 through 1964, Cooley football teams posted an eleven-season record of 60-14-8; representing an impressive winning percentage of 810. As the 1960s unfolded, the Cardinals were a dominant force on the Detroit high school football scene. In 1961, Cooley finished finished 7-1; cracking the Associated Press Top-Ten rankings for the first time - ending the season rated tenth. The 1962 and 1963 teams were undefeated, producing a combined regular-season record of 15-0; both squads were ranked fourth in respective final AP polling.
Thanks in large measure to the guidance of Abe Eliowitz and Roger Parmentier, Cooley's football program rose to great heights during the 1950s and 60s. Eliowitz taught and coached at Cooley from 1947 until 1970. Prior to earning his teaching credentials, Abe was an All-American footballer at Michigan State University. Eliowitz also played five seasons in the Canadian Football League; he was inducted to the CFL Hall of Fame in 1969. Roger Parmentier played collegiate football at Wayne State University; he was captain of the 1953 squad. To this day, Coach Parmentier's winning percentage is recognized as the best in DPSSAL football history; Roger was inducted to the Michigan High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame in 1989.
Between 1960 and 1964, Coach Harold Lindsay's swimming and diving program won five consecutive DPSSAL crowns for Cooley High School. At the 1963 Michigan High School Athletic Association championships, senior All-American William (Bill) Jennison established a state and National high school record in the 100-yard butterfly; Bill's time of :52.60 stood as the MHSAA record until 1971. Jennison and fellow Cooley Cardinal, Joanne Scarborough competed at the 1964 US Olympic Trials.
John Pheney was an All-City swimmer and co-captain of Cooley's DPSSAL championship teams in 1963 and 1964; John placed 9th in the 100-yard backstroke at the 1963 MHSAA finals. Ten years later, Pheney coached Ann Arbor-Huron High School to the 1973 MHSAA team title in boys' swimming and diving; under Pheney's tutelage, Huron High was also MHSAA team runner-up in 1972, 1977 and 1980.
Other than Bill Jennison, the only Cardinal swimmer to make finals at a MHSAA championship was Robert Foley. By virtue of his 5th place finish in the 200-yard individual medley and a 7th place showing in the 100-yard butterfly, Foley scored 17 team points for Cooley High at the 1967 state meet.
1970s, 1980s, 1990s
The 1982 Lady Cardinal basketball team won MHSAA District and Regional crowns; advancing all the way to the state tournament quarterfinal round versus five-time defending champion, Flint Northern High School.
Throughout Cooley High School's eighty-two history, the men's basketball program enjoyed top-level success. The Cardinals were DPSSAL champions in 1973; and during the late-1980s, in statewide competition - they reigned supreme. Coach Ben Kelso led the Cooley Cardinals to unprecedented accolades and consecutive Michigan High School Athletic Association Championship titles in 1987, 1988, and 1989. Cooley won another DPSSAL basketball crown in 1992.
Between 1975 and 1984, Cardinal football teams produced a 10-season record of 68-20 (.772). Cooley's 1980 squad went 9-0, earning a third place Associated Press ranking; the 1981 Cardinals finished 8-1, ending the season rated tenth.
Over the years, numerous Cooley track and field athletes have won individual DPSSAL and MHSAA gold medals; the Cardinals have also fared well in their quest for a state team title. In 1984 and 1985, Cooley's men finished as runners-up at the MHSAA Track and Field Finals. In 1991, Cooley High School brought home the MHSAA men's track and field championship trophy. At the 1991 championships, Cooley's 1600-meter relay team of Adams, David Norman, Johnson and Marco West established a MHSAA Class-A record of 3:16.05; the mark was not bettered until 2002.
A partial list of distinguished Cooley graduates includes highly respected names from the world of sports and entertainment.
- Miss Margaret Ayers (1932), became Cooley's first State Champion, at the 1930 Michigan Secondary Schools Declamation Tournament
- Stan Newsted, Bob Hamel and Ed Miller (1933), selected to the Detroit News All-Metropolitan Football Team for 1932
- Bob Scott (1935), City Champion and top-ranked Michigan performer in the discus throw during 1935
- Britton Lux (1940), DPSSAL Champion & MHSAA Athlete of the Year; five-seconds from US high school record (one-mile run)
- Richard Watson (1946), as a Wayne State University fencer, Watson was the sport's first four-time NCAA All-American, 1947–1950.
- Mike Ilitch (1947), Former CHS shortstop who created the Little Caesar's Pizza empire; Mike owns the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings.
- Bob Langas (1948), played collegiate football at Wayne State; played professionally with the 1954 Baltimore Colts.
- Ross Tuttle (1948) was Detroit city league champion and the state's top-ranked high jumper (1.87 meters) in 1948.
- Larry LaVercombe (1954), his DPSSAL basketball single-game scoring record of 53 points stood for nine seasons
- Milt Pappas (1957), former MLB pitcher; won 209 games during 17 seasons with Cincinnati, Baltimore and the Chicago Cubs
- Milan Stitt (1959), Celebrated playwright, screenwriter and drama professor; best known for his play, The Runner Stumbles
- James P. Hoffa (1959), All-City & All-State football player; lawyer; former President of International Teamsters Union
- Barbara Tarbuck (1959), Professional television and cinematic actress; most recently General Hospital and Walking Tall.
- Bill Jennison (1963), DPSSAL & MHSAA Champion swimmer; former National High School Record Holder, 100-yard butterfly
- Yvonne Drummond (1964), 4th at 1961 and 1962 U.S. Junior Skating Finals; 1st place at 1963 Eastern Great Lakes Championships
- John Pheney (1964) All-City swimmer and captain of Cooley's DPSSAL championship teams in 1963 and 1964.
- Joanne Scarborough (1966), represented Cooley at 1966 AAU-USA swimming finals; placed 4th in 200-meter breaststroke
- Sandra Blount (1969), MHSAA Track & Field Athlete of the Year (1968); set state record in 400 meter dash at 1968 AAU-USA Championships
- Rodolfo M. Foster (1969), (aka La Palabra), Afro-Cuban jazz musician/composer/impresario; contributor to the Salsa romántica genre
- S. Epatha Merkerson (1970), renowned Emmy & Golden Globe Award winning actress; star of NBC-TV series, Law & Order
- Nick Ellis (1972), MHSAA Track & Field Athlete of the Year; 1972 MHSAA & Golden West Meet Champion (men's two-mile run)
- Larry Fogle (1972), MHSAA Basketball Player of the Year; still holds DPSSAL single-game record of 73 points (vs. Cody High)
- Keith Tinsley (1983), played college football at the University of Pittsburgh; played professionally with the 1987 Cleveland Browns
- John Washington Jr, Willie Jones, Richard Gregory, Derrick Harris (1988), MHSAA State Champion (men's 4x400m relay)
- Derrick Harris (1988), MHSAA State Champion (men's 400 meter dash)
- Dawn Adams (1988), MHSAA State Champion (women's 300 meter hurdles)
- Michael Talley (1989), Detroit Free Press - Mr. Basketball - 1989; led Cooley to consecutive MHSAA titles in 1987, '88 & '89
- Marco West (1991), MHSAA State Champion (men's 400 meter dash)
- David Norman (1992), MHSAA State Champion (men's 800 meters)
- Shree Jones (1994), MHSAA State Champion (women's 200 meter dash)
- Sylvester Dotson (1996), selected to the 1996 Magic's Roundball Classic All-American Team
- Demetrius Addison (2008), MHSAA silver medalist (men's 110 meter high-hurdles)
- Roy Tarpley, former NBA player
- Chris Floyd, former NFL player
- Tony Ortiz - Detroit radio personality.
- Obie Trice, Rap Music artist
- Lional Dalton is a 1994 alumnus of Cooley. Former NFL player.
- Black Milk, hip-hop producer/rapper affiliated with Slum Village, Phat Kat, and Guilty Simpson
- Starr Strukk Hip-Hop producer/C.E.O/Book Writer affiliated with the Streetlordz.Chedda Boyz
Cooley High movie
Writer Eric Monte's 1975 feature film Cooley High, is loosely based upon his experiences at Cooley Vocational High School, which formerly stood in Chicago, Illinois. The inspiration for the movie's Edwin G. Cooley High and its screenplay are unrelated to Detroit's Thomas M. Cooley High School.
References and Links
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- Michigan High School Sports Index & History
- Michigan High School Track and Field History
- Michigan High School Football - since 1950
- Michigan High School Basketball - since 1950
- Thomas Cooley High School's DPS Web Page
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