The first public school building in Carthage was constructed in 1869. It was located on the west side of the public square, next to the former Bank of Carthage. Although the Civil War caused revenues for city and school operations to be scarce, a new school building was erected at the 714 Main Street site in 1870. Two years later, the high school was organized; and in 1878, the first class graduated. There were seven students in the first graduating class, with only fifty-five total enrolled in high school.
The next senior high school building was constructed in 1904 at 714 Main Street. In 1952 a new addition containing much-needed classrooms, a gymnasium, and an auditorium was completed. In 1956 the old part of the building was completely renovated. This included new stairs, tile floors, acoustical tile ceilings, and better lighting. In addition, in 1957, the agriculture shop was enlarged, and a music room was constructed above the shop.
In 1965 a vocational trades building was erected at Sixth and River. This housed an auto mechanics shop, carpentry shop, and radio and TV repair shop. In 1966 a seven-room addition was added to the senior high. In 1973 property east of the high school was purchased for classrooms for art and C.O.E. The north classroom of this annex was remodeled in 1974 for the special education program. Also, in '74, an addition to the trades building was completed. This addition included a machine shop, C.O.E. classroom, business classroom, classrooms for auto mechanics and carpentry, and support offices for technical education.
During the 1978-79 school years, two buildings were added to the senior high facilities. First, a vocational agriculture building was completed at the technical school. Second, the Safeway property, purchased west of the high school, was remodeled to serve as an addition to the physical education and athletic programs. During the 1986-87 school years, the north ends of the second, third and fourth floors were renovated to accommodate a new media center, eight new classrooms, a computer lab, and office space. In the fall of 1987, construction was completed on the new senior high auditorium at the north end of the building. In the summer of 1998, a new climate control heating and cooling system were installed.
The curricular changes and additions and changed procedures have kept pace with the ever-changing needs of the community served by the school. As a result, even greater growth in the curriculum has accompanied the growth of the physical plant. Approximately one hundred ninety-five units of credit are offered in grades 9-12. The breadth of the curriculum offers opportunities for students to prepare for entrance to any college or university, technical school, or workforce.
From 1958 – 2009, the secondary schools operated as two separate units, a three-year junior high and a three-year senior high. In March 2009, after much cooperation between the school district and the Carthage community, the current high school at 2600 South River was finished and opened. This has changed the organization of the schools in Carthage forever. Now, kindergarten through 3rd grade will attend elementary schools. In addition, a new middle school will be established and inhabited by 4th and 5th graders. The old high school building on Main Street is now the 6th-grade center, and the Junior High is now on Centennial and River and serves 7th and 8th-grade students.