Central has created and maintained a reputation as one of the best college preparatory schools in Memphis. Central is a designated Optional School in the Shelby County Schools public school district. Central’s Optional Program as well as its diverse, vibrant, and challenging academic environment attracts not only midtown Memphis, but also students residing in surrounding areas of the city. The Optional Program at Central creates an academic, ethnic, and religious diversity to which few other schools in the city of Memphis can compare.

Central was one of the first four Optional Schools when the program began in 1976 and currently is one of the nine high schools in the SCS Optional Program. Students in attendance at Central for its esteemed Optional Program willingly accept the challenge that the rigorous college preparatory curriculum offers. This curriculum includes numerous Honors and Advanced Placement courses which refine successful Optional students, 98% of whom graduate from Central and subsequently attend college.

Honors Courses

Central offers over twenty courses with Honors level curriculum. These challenging courses are available to all Central students, although Optional students most often take advantage of them.

Honors level courses are offered in every department: math, English, science, social studies, foreign language, and fine arts. Honors math courses include Algebra I and II, Geometry, Pre-Calculus, Statistics, and Calculus. Honors English courses include English I, II, III, and IV, Etymology, and Mythology. Honors science courses include Anatomy & Physiology, Biology, Chemistry, Physical Science, and Physics. Honors social science courses include Contemporary Issues, Facing History, Economics, Practical Law, Psychology, Sociology, United States Government, United States History, World Geography, and World History. Honors Foreign Language courses include French I, II,III, and IV; Latin I, II, III, and IV; and Spanish I, II, III, and IV. Honors fine arts courses include Visual Art I and II, Vocal Music, Concert Band, Jazz Band, Chamber Choir, and Theater.

Advanced Placement Courses

For the Central student willing to embark on an even more rigorous academic experience, Advanced Placement (AP) courses through College Board are available. Grades in these courses are weighted most heavily on students’ GPAs, and students who earn scores of 3 or higher on AP Exams in the spring have the opportunity to earn college credit hours. Over the past few years, the number and variety of AP courses offered at Central has increased significantly to include almost 20 courses.

AP courses are also offered in every department at Central: math, English, science, social studies, foreign language, and fine arts. AP math courses include Statistics, Calculus AB, and Calculus BC. AP English courses include Language and Composition (English III) and Literature and Composition (English IV). AP science courses include Biology and Chemistry. AP social studies courses include European History, Government and Politics, Human Geography, Psychology, United States History, and World History. AP foreign language courses include French, Latin, and Spanish. AP fine arts courses include Studio Art Drawing and Music Theory.

Graduating With Honors or With Distinction

Students will be recognized as graduating with honors if they score at or above all of the subject area readiness benchmarks on the ACT or attain an equivalent score on the SAT.

Students will be recognized as graduating with distinction by attaining a B average and completing at least one of the following:

  • earn a nationally recognized industry certification
  • participate in at least one of the Governor’s Schools
  • participate in one of the state’s All State musical organizations
  • be selected as a National Merit Finalist or Semi-Finalist
  • attain a composite score of 31 or higher on the ACT or 1360 on the SAT
  • attain a score of 3 or higher on at least two Advanced Placement exams
  • successfully complete the International Baccalaureate Diploma program
  • earn 12 or more semester hours of transcripted post-secondary credit