Hughes STEM High School is one of sixteen high schools in the Cincinnati Public Schools District (CPS). Founded in 1853, the school was renovated and transformed into a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) high school in 2009. Hughes is also one of the STEM platform schools in the Ohio STEM Learning Network (OSLN). The school, previously known as Hughes Center, has traditionally served a large of population of minority, low income, and special needs students. Hughes continues this service today.

Presently, the school offers specific STEM majors along with a strong liberal arts foundation. At the end of the 10th grade, students are given an opportunity to apply for one of the following four STEM majors: Programming & Software Development, Engineering Futures, Health Sciences, and Zoo Academy. The goal of these majors is to create academic pathways to STEM disciplines by engaging and educating students about a specific field of interest.  Students are immersed in rich and meaningful STEM experiences through interdisciplinary coursework applied in real-world contexts through business and community partnerships. In these workplace experiences, students learn about a wide range of STEM careers, develop professional communication skills, and develop their ability to authentically apply their learning and technology. In short, the Hughes STEM High School will lead students to develop the skills that they will need in order to succeed in the 21st century.

Hughes High School, while newly renovated for 21st-century learning, has a rich educational history. It is the second-oldest high school in the city and was created from a bequest by Thomas Hughes to support free education for poor children. In his will, written shortly before his death on Dec. 26, 1824, Hughes bequeathed his land to be “applied to the maintenance and support of a school or schools in the City of Cincinnati for the education of poor destitute children whose parents or guardians are unable to pay for their schooling.” The first graduating class in 1852 consisted of six girls and four boys. The original Hughes High School was located at W. Fifth and Mound streets. It was home to Hughes until 1910, when the school moved to Clifton Avenue and McMillan Street in Clifton Heights.

The current building, one of the premier examples of Tutor architecture in the country, boasts a 145-foot Tudor tower designed by J. Walter Stevens that can be seen for miles. Terra cotta gargoyles representing engineering, history, drawing, athletics, chemistry, and geography are found upon the cornice of the building, accentuating the right of every child to be educated. The renovations for Hughes High School were completed in 2010, and combined the rich historical architecture with updated classrooms, labs, and collective learning spaces that focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The school is not the only memorial for Thomas Hughes; upon his death, he was buried in Twelfth Street Cemetery. Forty-five years later, he was re-interred in Spring Grove Cemetery. There, Hughes High School alumni erected a monument honoring Thomas Hughes and his dream of free education.