Article by Carol Triebold and Phyllis Monks
Crete’s Higher Education
A High School Begins
As early as 1836 when the first settlers came to this area, the children of the community received a primary education. The first teacher was Willard Wood, founder of Wood’s Corner, which was later renamed Crete.
Almost a hundred years later, in 1932, the people of Crete voted to establish a high school education in their community.
Before a high school in Crete, students who desired an education above the eighth grade would have to go outside the community, mainly to Chicago. Eventually high schools were established in the area and students were able to go to Chicago Heights or Peotone.
Upon approval of starting a high school in Crete in 1932, a two year high school program was formed for ninth and tenth grades. The two year program was operated by the grade school district board. The school house at Elizabeth and North Street then housed the grade school students along with the ninth and tenth grade pupils.
In 1933 a portable building was purchased for $3,500 and placed behind the school to be used as a library and study hall for grades seventh through tenth.
On March 21, 1936, an election was held for the people of Crete to vote on whether to issue $12,000 in bonds to match an outright grant of $22,400 from the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The money was to be used for construction of the addition to the grade school building built in 1928 to pave the way for a third year of high school. The school board would employ all skilled labor on the project and WPA would furnish all common labor. The project would cost approximately $15,000 for skilled and unskilled labor.
The property owners in the school district were not taxed for a high school, so the $12,000 of the bonds had to be issued at a very low rate of interest and would not mature until the current bond issue expired in 1942. The grade school board was responsible for the curriculum and financial burden of the two year high school.
In 1937 the architectural firm of L. C. Bernard of Hammond designed the addition for the first and second year high school students. It was built onto the east side of the grade school located on the corner of North and Elizabeth Streets. The excavation for the addition was completed by WPA labor.
The brick addition was two stories high, with one-half story below ground level. Located on the ground floor were a locker room, science lab and areas for manual training classes. The second floor included a study hall which was to accommodate 200-250 students, a library and the principal’s office.
This first addition to the building added enough space so that a third year of high school was created in September 1937. A total of eighty-eight pupils were enrolled in the three-year program. They included thirty-one freshmen, forty sophomores and seventeen juniors. The curriculum then included home economics, manual arts, typing, biology, shorthand, Latin two, world history two, English three, advanced algebra and general mathematics. The addition was dedicated on November 18, 1937.
Crete Community School
A fourth year in the high school was added in 1940. At that time a study for the creation of a community high school district unit began. A four year high school in Crete was projected to have about one-hundred and fifty pupils by the first or second year.
Quoting from The Chicago Heights Star on April 19, 1940 about the matter of creating a high school unit the article stated, "Steps for the formation were: Filing of petition outlining and describing the proposed district signed by fifty or more legal voters residing in any contiguous and compact territory; calling of election by county superintendent, with a majority vote required for creation of the district; calling of an election to select a five-person board of education.
“The board would have authority to provide building facilities, levy taxes not to exceed $1 for educational purposes and thirty-seven and one half cents for building, and prescribe a course of study and select teachers."
The article continued: "The existing school building in Crete has a well-equipped library and study hall, home economics room, shop and English room. Members of the committee say a four-room or five-room addition to the present building, costing from $40,000 to $45,000, would meet immediate requirements. Such a building program could be financed by a bond issue to mature over a twenty-year period. The three-year program now being offered by the high school costs $13,132.26 per year."
The high school unit with a four-year program would be accredited by the University of Illinois and recognized by the state department of public instruction at Springfield.
Louis F. Bottino, Will County superintendent of schools, set the date of May 11, 1940 for voting on the unit school as he had received a petition signed by 125 people requesting a referendum on the proposal.
The referendum was approved by a vote of 538-215. The voters of the village overwhelmingly made it possible for the high school unit. On June 1, 1940, a five-man board was elected for the new unit school. They were Nelson B. Helme, president, B. S. Stephens, secretary, J. Schulte, D. M. Sumpter and W. R. Dedert.
With the four year high school becoming a reality, it became known as the Crete Community High School—or District No.189. September 1940 inaugurated the first four year program for the Crete Community High School.
Along with the high school a sports program was established. Crete’s only varsity sport was basketball which began in 1937. Baseball was added in 1941 and football in 1945. Crete’s teams became known as the Crete Warriors and the graphic logo of the warriors was a head of an Indian warrior with its full head dress.
The following Loyalty Song was penned for the Community High School and sung at their games to cheer on their teams.
|"Here’s to Crete High,
Dear old Crete High,
Raise the colors gold and blue--
We will be for ev-er true
So let us cheer the Warriors on to victory
Fight on for their fame--
We’ve got the fight
We got the might
Let’s win this game--!"
In 1940 the grade and high school building educated 234 students in the elementary grades of first to eighth grade and 136 students in the high school with a total faculty of 15.
In 1941 the portable building was remodeled into an industrial arts and shop building for high school students.
District No. 189 was absorbed into the Crete-Monee District 201-U when Crete united with Monee in 1948. That year two new buildings were constructed for the industrial arts and vocational agricultural classes. The old portable building, which served first as library and now as classrooms, was then remodeled for a cafeteria and band room. Equipment was purchased for preparing and serving a hot dish each day for about two hundred and twenty-five students. Previously, students had to eat at temporary tables set up on the gym floor and milk was the only food item obtained at school. The music students, who formerly had band and chorus rehearsals in the gym on the stage, had their own room for storage and utilized the cafeteria area the rest of the day.
Total enrollment at the school was seven hundred pupils.