Part II

Article by Carol Triebold and Phyllis Monks
Crete’s Higher Education
Part II
A New High School is Built

 HS News Clipping

By 1953 the school at Elizabeth and North Streets had become overcrowded and a second site was sought for a new campus for the high school. Removing grades nine through twelve would open more classrooms for the expansion of the grade school.

On March 7, 1953, a referendum was held for the purpose of voting for building a new high school, which was approved. 

In 1953 a parcel of thirty acres of Connelly land was chosen and purchased for $48,000. The land was located about a mile west of downtown Crete on West Exchange Street. 

An election was then held for floating a bond issue to allow $700,000 for land acquisition, architectural work and construction of the new high school, and an addition to the Monee grade school on March 8, 1953.

The building contract for the new high school was awarded to Pere Anderson and Company of Chicago. The architectural firm of Naess and Murphy provided the plans.

Ground was broken for the new high school on October 1, 1953. The eighth grade students from the Crete Public School, Trinity Lutheran and Zion Lutheran Schools of Crete and the Monee Public Grade School attended the groundbreaking ceremony. 

Crete School children paraded west down Exchange Street to the site of the new high school for the ceremony led by the school band. The band opened the service with their rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner."

Acting president of the Crete-Monee School Board, Ralph Fehland, spoke a few words on behalf of the board’s plans. Crete merchant Harry Roush made comments on the efforts of the Lay Committee in the preplanning.

The Crete Record on October 5, 1953 reported on the ground breaking ceremony. "Among the high school students who helped dig at the groundbreaking ceremony last Thursday morning, October 1, at the new site of the Crete-Monee High School were the following class presidents or representatives:

  • Jack Sizemore for the senior class.
  • Ray Gene Brock for the junior class.
  • Mary Ann Blievernicht for the sophomore class.
  • Neil Marting for the freshman class.
  • Betty Leighty for the eighth grade Monee School.
  • Barbara Paul for the eighth grade Trinity School.
  • Eddie Paul for the eighth grade Zion School."

Gib Fink Jr. spoke at length for the student body making a reference to Confucius. Also taking part in the ceremony was County Superintendent Verne E. Crackel, who had served first as Principal and later as Superintendent of the Crete District Schools for a total of twenty-five years.

A description of the new school was reported on March 11, 1954 in The Crete Record. "The blueprints of the new Crete-Monee High on which structural work is moving forward through the mild winter, reveals that the high portion to the right (west) of the entrance is the gymnasium. The lower stone structure to the immediate right of the entrance includes rooms appurtenant to the gymnasium, i.e. dressing and shower rooms."

Crete Gymnasium

"Upon entering the school from the circular drive, an entrance hall leads south to a cafeteria approximately 40x70 feet—beyond which (again south) is the music room and stage. The cafeteria becomes an all purpose room as it opens up into the music room and stage allowing for stage and concert auditorium use.

"Should you bear to the left on entering the main entrance, the Superintendent’s and Principal’s offices are adjacent to the general school office. Further to the east on the main floor is the library.

"On the south of this east and west hall are the home economics instruction rooms and kitchen as well as one classroom.

"On the ground floor—to which there is also an entrance from the east are located the chemistry and the general laboratories as well as the school boiler and utility rooms. To the east of the lower or ground floor, the architects contemplate the addition of the agriculture department and vocational building which could follow at a later date.

"On the top floor are 10 classrooms as well as washrooms. Any future additional classrooms would be an extension in a southerly direction from the present building.

"The car drive and parking area are to the west of the building. Plans for a future athletic field as contemplated would be to the south of the school parking area in as much as the district’s property provides plenty for this development."

Annexation of the parcel to the village for a school site took place in August 1954, after much discussion about building sidewalks to the new school.

The new high school was dedicated November 14, 1954 at 3:00 p.m., when Charles F. Murphy of the firm of Naess and Murphy made his presentation of the building to Secretary Fred W.Hansen, senior board member in years of service. Also present at the dedication was County Superintendent of Schools, Verne Crackel.

New Crete HS

Presentation of gifts to the school were made including: a grand piano by the Band Parents organization, a gift from the Student Pep Club, Ronald Artman on behalf of the F.F.A. for ground seeding, Jack Wentz on behalf of the class of 1955 for an electric scoreboard, and Harry Roush, commander of the Crete Memorial Post No. 85 AMVETS, who donated flags for the school building and each classroom. Jack Wentz again spoke in the presentation of a painting by classmate June Albers.

Music for the occasion was by the Crete band under the direction of leader Arthur Wolf. Vocal music by the Mixed Chorus was under the direction of Miss Wilma Roeschley and prayers were offered by Rev. Thorburn Anderson of Crete and Rev. Walter Bloesch of Monee.

The homemaker girls served ice cream, cookies and punch during the open house which followed.

The new high school opened September 7, 1954, for the 1954-1955 school year with 297 pupils registered in the new high school by opening day. The grade schools opened with 1010 pupils. The high school had a capacity of 475 students and by 1956 that enrollment had been reached. In 1957 the portable building which was purchased in 1933 and placed at the grade school for high school use was dismantled, moved and reassembled at the new high school to be used by the maintenance department.