Herron-Riverside High School is a second campus of Herron High School, and part of the Herron Classical Schools network. Herron-Riverside High School is tuition free, and provides a world-class, college preparatory education on the west side of Indianapolis. An A-rated school, we use a classical, liberal arts and sciences curriculum that prepares students for success in college and beyond.
- The Basics
- Awards & Accolades
- Student Demographic & Accountability Data
- Our History
- Our Home – The Heslar Naval Armory
- About Herron Classical Schools
Founded: 2017-2018 school year
Authorizer: Mayor of Indianapolis’ Office of Education Innovation
School type: Co-educational
Grades: 9 – 12
Enrollment: 420 (2020 -2021 school year)
Awards & Accolades
Now in its fifth year, Herron-Riverside High School is widely recognized as a promising development for urban education in Indianapolis. Herron-Riverside High School is a second campus of the award-winning Herron High School. Our successful educational approach has been recognized by many national and local organizations:
- #1 Best Public High School in Marion County
- #1 Best College Prep Public High School in Marion County
- #1 Best Charter High School in Marion County
- U.S. News and World Report
- Best public high school in Indianapolis
- #2 high school in Indiana
- 83rd best charter school in the United States
- Top-300 high school nationally
- Gold Medal School (2018)
- Indiana Department of Education
- 5 years as a Blue-Ribbon School
- 6 consecutive years as an A-rated school
Student Demographic & Accountability Data
The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) and stakeholders across the state have worked to define a set of characteristics that best indicate a student’s preparation for success after high school. These characteristics are displayed in "Indiana GPS" to illustrate how students are supported, starting in kindergarten, to meet those expectations.
- Career and postsecondary readiness (credentials and experience)
- Communication and collaboration
- Work ethic and
- Civic, financial, and digital literacy
Herron-Riverside High School was founded in 2017 as the second campus of Herron High School (HHS), one of the nation’s highest-performing public high schools. Herron-Riverside High School is a true replication of the award-winning model established at Herron High School. Riverside was created in response to the overwhelming demand for enrollment slots at HHS and the need for high-quality high school options within Indianapolis’ urban core. Riverside holds a charter from the City of Indianapolis Mayor’s Office of Education Innovation, which was awarded by a unanimous vote of the Indianapolis Charter School Board in 2015.
Herron-Riverside High School and Herron High School are both members of Herron Classical Schools, the network formed by the leadership that founded and led Herron High School.
The concept for Herron High School originated in 2003 under the leadership of Joanna Beatty Taft, Executive Director of the Harrison Center for the Arts. Recognizing the need for high quality, tuition-free public education located within the city’s urban neighborhoods, Ms. Taft brought together local residents, educators, non-profit organizations and business leaders to create an original structure for a classical, liberal arts education.
Herron High School’s founding board believed it was essential to bring the very best educators to the table during the development phase of the school. Beginning with Robert Marzano’s concept of designing curriculum “with the end in mind,” and guided by best practices in the classroom, the founders’ vision of a well-educated, world-class citizen helped define the rigorous curriculum, classical format and cultural foundation for the school. The development of the art history timeline as an organizational structure was a creative approach to the challenge of engaging students from diverse backgrounds.
From its inception, the vision for Herron High School was focused on the adaptive potential of the vacant former John Herron Art Institute campus. For many decades, these historically important buildings were the centerpiece of the art movement in Indianapolis. Herron High School’s founders believed the rebirth of the historic campus as a center of learning would provide an anchor for the community landscape and honor the heritage of the buildings. Steeped in the cultural history of the city and imbued with the great creative talents of past generations, these buildings are once again host to a new generation of students.
True to the founders’ vision, and through the leadership of Janet H. McNeal, Head of School, Herron High School has rapidly become one of the top public high schools in the country. Designated a 4 Star School by the Indiana Department of Education, and appearing on lists of the nation’s best public high schools in Newsweek, U.S. News and the Washington Post, Herron High School provides an exemplary education.
Now in its fifth year, Herron-Riverside High School is on a path to achieve the same standard of excellence as Herron High School. On one nationally-normed assessment, Riverside students outperformed the national average by 33 percent in math and nearly 50 percent in reading. Riverside will add a new class of freshman students each year until it is fully enrolled with students in grades 9-12 during the 2020-21 school year.
Our Home – The Heslar Naval Armory
Herron-Riverside High School moved into its home, the former Heslar Naval Armory in the fall of 2018. After nearly 80 years of service as a training center for sailors and soldiers, the former Armory has a new mission to prepare Indianapolis’ youth to become engaged citizens and the city’s future leaders.
- The Heslar Naval Armory was built in in 1938 as a Works Process Administration (WPA) project as a naval reservist training center.
- The building, which was decommissioned in late 2015, played an important role in the preservation of freedom and democracy. It was an important intelligence-gathering post during World War II and housed top military leaders while they planned important European and Pacific campaigns.
- The Art Moderne structure contains numerous historically-important features. These features include 12′ x 15′ WPA-era paintings in the gymnasium that depict naval scenes from the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Spanish-American War, and World War I, original nautical-themed globe light fixtures, and a terrazzo bar in the officers lounge.
- The building also contains quite possibly the only room in Indianapolis that could be flooded for productive purposes! Navy personnel could use the “wet trainer” to flood the chamber to simulate a disaster at sea under controlled conditions: a ship with holes in pipes and hull. Trainees would then try to stop the flooding. It could also be used to simulate a fire on ship and reservists would have to follow emergency protocol to evacuate the room.
- Changes and renovations were made to the Armory building at several points in its history, in order to allow the building to adapt to the evolving needs of the Navy and Marines and continue to serve as a relevant site for military recruiting and training. Additional security was added after September 11, but the building was ill-suited for the new protocol, which led to Armory Board move reservist drilling elements to newly-constructed training centers on Fort Benjamin Harrison.
Transformation of the Armory
- The building was officially vacated in 2015 and was surplused by the Armory Board in October 2015. Looking for an opportunity to expand its proven model, the leadership of award-winning Herron High School, now Indianapolis Classical Schools, convinced the City of Indianapolis on its behalf. Indiana Landmarks agreed to hold the building until funds could be raised for renovations.
- Construction, which began in summer 2017, was completed in July 2018. The total cost of the renovation was about $10 million.
- As a reservist training center, it already contained many classrooms and offices and was perfectly suited to become a high school. Much of the renovation involved preserving the building’s historical features and replacing and updating mechanical equipment to meet the needs of a modern high school.
- The former Armory now offers a spacious gymnasium is home to our Argonaut athletics teams, a beautiful 2-story music room that will be the rehearsal location for our incredible choir and instrumental music programs, four modern science labs, and a former officer’s lounge repurposed as a coffee shop.
Herron-Riverside High School students remain part of our community of scholars even after they graduate. We seek to continue to provide resources and opportunities for our alumni to remain engaged in our school community.
Herron-Riverside High School has a small base of alumni. Having graduated its inaugural class of students in 2021, our alumni have just started college and are early in their professional careers. We want to keep alumni in touch with the school and each other.
We hope that you will keep us apprised of your accomplishments and important milestones and allow the Herron-Riverside High School community to celebrate them with you. We also hope that you will keep us updated as you move from place to place.
When we know where you are living as well as reach you by email, we can be sure you receive invitations for special events, important announcements, updates, and progress reports.
Please fill out this form so that we can know what you are up to!
About Herron Classical Schools
Herron Classical Schools is one community with two great high schools – Herron High School and Riverside High School – and a new K-8 school, Herron Preparatory Academy, which opened with K-grade 2 in August 2021. HCS has one board of directors and a unified vision and mission to set a new standard for education in Central Indiana.