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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Stephanie Fontenot

Phone: (409) 766-5146

Email: stephaniefontenot@gisd.org

Galveston’s Ball High School to Host First-Ever “Central Night” Game Aug. 26 

GALVESTON, Texas - Aug. 12, 2022 - For the first time in district history, Galveston ISD’s Ball High School will host “Central Night” – an evening of competition, remembrance and celebration honoring the history and legacy of the district’s former Central High School during the varsity football game against La Marque starting at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 26, at Courville Stadium.

Newly-formed Central Night will occur annually during the first home varsity football game each season. The Ball High Tors, who normally wear gold and purple uniforms, will instead don white and blue like the Central Bearcats used to do.

But Central Night is about more than just uniform colors. It’s about remembering and preserving the history of the school, the alumni who passed through its halls and what they mean to GISD, Galveston Island and the nationwide journey toward a more unified educational system.

“This will be a great event that will honor our past and show the importance of the years students gained their education at Central High School,” GISD Superintendent Dr. Jerry Gibson said. “It allows GISD to never forget while honoring the past and where GISD came from to where it is today.”

Central School, established in 1885 and renamed Central High School in 1886, was the first Texas public school for African Americans. It’s where Galveston’s African American students attended until it was consolidated with Ball High School in 1968, where the white students attended up to that point.

Segregated or not, the Central High School Bearcats were always impressive. Central is the only Galveston public high school to win unified state championships in football, basketball and baseball, according to University Interscholastic League (UIL) and Prairie View Interscholastic League (PVIL) athletic records. When the athletes weren’t winning state championships, UIL brackets also show they were often district or quarterfinalists. Additional championships declared in football and track before the unified playoffs system of 1940 further highlight a truly dominant athletics program.

Central’s students excelled artistically, too. PVIL academic records also cite state championships earned in choir, band, art, theater, debate, science and industrial arts – exceptional achievements displayed across the board.

“Allowing the Tors to wear the Bearcat uniforms will be an annual teaching event,” GISD Board of Trustees member and Central alumnus David O’Neal said. “It teaches that during segregated times, there were two division 4-A public schools here. It will spotlight Central’s academic, artistic, athletic and all-around achievements.”

“Congratulations to Superintendent Gibson and AD Bob Jones,” O’Neal added. “This event goes a long way in unifying GISD. We want to be all-inclusive and need all hands on deck to navigate the turbulent waters of public education.”

While Central’s name lives on in the district, displayed on the same structure that operated before de-segregation, it is now home to seventh and eighth-grade students.

“Central’s accomplishments should give current students pride in their school and keep their achievement goals high in anticipation of attending Ball High,” O’Neal said. “The attitude should be one that is coming from a winning school to continuing winning at the next.”

There are hopes within the district for Central Night to exist as an annual event for every GISD sport in the future. Currently, a combination of passionate GISD leaders, proud Central alumni and countless individuals connected to the school’s important history look forward to the debut of this monumental event.

“I cannot say enough about how David O’Neal, Head Football Coach Bennight and
AD Jones made sure everything came together,” Gibson added.

Commemorative T-shirts will be sold for $15 and may be purchased prior to the event during the free scrimmage game starting at 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19, at Courville Stadium, during the freshman football game starting at 5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 25, at Spoor Field, or during Central Night itself.

Tickets will be available for purchase in person during the event or online at https://gofan.co/app/school/TX73119.

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Galveston ISD is a public school district in Texas that serves more than 7,000 students. The district’s mission is to Educate, Engage and Empower EACH student for a life of Excellence. To learn more about the district, visit www.gisd.org.