In 1971, a group of parents from the Richmond community went to the Richmond School Board and presented a plan for the formation of an alternative school in the city. This school was to utilize the community as the classroom to have a few full-time teachers who performed the work of teacher/coordinator/counselor, and to use community resources for classrooms and teachers, and therefore not need a high budget, high maintenance building.
This appealed to the School Board and the charter was granted. Open High School became the first of several alternative schools in the city. The school opened in 1972 with Joe Hamilton as the Administrative Coordinator and Social Studies teacher. The building was above what is now the Richmond Chamber of Commerce on Franklin Street. Classrooms were located in the Second Presbyterian Church, Centenary United Methodist Church, the Red Door Restaurant, Virginia Union University, and other community locations. Students wrote a constitution, which allowed for Families instead of homerooms, classes throughout the city, bus tickets instead of the yellow school bus, Town Meeting twice a month, student representatives who ran the school, and an application procedure for any student who lived in the City of Richmond.
Mr. Alveston Taylor soon joined the staff as Administrative Coordinator, and was followed by Iris Metts who served as principal. In 1978 Brenda Arrington, a Social Studies teacher became the principal and she stayed on the job until 1998.
Ms. Arrington, later Mrs. Drew, saw the school through three moves: to 00 Clay Street, to the vacated Maggie Walker Building, and to 600 South Pine Street in the Grace Arents Building, the current location since 1989. In the 1999-2000 school year, the late Priscilla Green became principal of Open High School until her death in May 2008. Ms. Green paved the way for high achievement at Open High School. Through her leadership, Open High School became nationally recognized as a top school in U.S. News & World Report’s annual listing and as a National Blue Ribbon School for 2008. Candace Veney-Chaplin, was appointed in July 2008 after seven years as a Social Studies teacher at Open. Peter Glessman, served as a social studies teacher at Open High School from 1997-2000 and was appointed in July 2012.-June 2015. After three years as principal of Thomas Jefferson High School, Candace Veney-Chaplin returned to the role of principal of Open High School in July 2015.