Saint Charles High School History
St.Charles High School is rich with history in its service of meeting the educational needs of the St. Charles community. In many ways, the growth of the 80 plus year-old facility has paralleled the growth and diversification of the larger community: it has always met those challenges and served well the needs of the School District and the community. Highlights of the school’s history are summarized here.The first school was located at Fourth and Jefferson Streets and was purchased through individual citizen contributions. In 1918, after a fire partially destroyed the building, the high school was moved to its present location on the corner of North Kingshighway and Waverly Streets at what was then the St. Charles Military Academy.
Saint Charles High School started as a two year high school. The building that first housed SCHS was known as “The Jefferson School”, which was constructed in 1867 and named “The Jefferson School” in 1870. It was initially an elementary school. The high school was added later in the same building in 1899.
The first SCHS two year graduation.
During this year, the decision was made to change SCHS to a four year high school.
The first Charlemo was published by the Seniors graduating in 1921. There were only 16 members of the 1921 graduating class. The entire student body was 135 students. There must be a very limited number of 1921 Charlemo’s around today.
The present high school building (Building “A”) was constructed on a 6.4-acre site of the old military academy. The facility was constructed by court decree in the St. Charles School District on condition that the School District pay the college $25,000. This amount was later returned to the District to become the “Ezra Overall Endowment Fund.”
Students moved into the new building, on George Washington’s birthday, where SCHS is now located today. The 1932 Charlemo commemorates George Washington’s 200th birthday during the nation-wide George Washington Bicentennial Celebration sponsored by the U.S. Congress.
The School Board purchased lots amounting to approximately four acres to be used for an athletic field. The athletic field bleachers were later constructed as a W.P.A. project.
The Vocational Shop (Industrial Technology Building “D”) was constructed.
The Board of Education purchased a tract of land lying west of and immediately adjacent to the high school athletic field. This tract contained 5.168 acres.
A new junior high school building (Building “B”) was constructed. It contained classrooms, cafeteria, recreation room, teachers’ rooms and gymnasium. Later in 1957-58, five new junior high classrooms and special service rooms were added along with the extension of the gymnasium. This entire building was absorbed by the growing high school enrollment when the new junior high on Elm Street (Hardin Middle School) was constructed in 1960.
In 1955, the first African American students moved from Franklin High School to attended SCHS.
Voters approved a bond issue election to provide for a fifteen-room addition to the high school (Building “C”) and an enlargement of the cafeteria. These new areas were ready for the 1965-66 school year.
Due to overcrowding at St. Charles High (1957 students), the district was split into two high school attendance areas. Three hundred sophomores and one hundred twenty-five freshmen from St. Charles West School attendance area comprised the initial student body of the new high school.
Renovations were made primarily to the exterior of Building “A”. These included cleaning and tuck-pointing, repairing the guttering and the renovation of three art rooms. A fire in the art supply room just below the auditorium later that same year caused extensive damage to surrounding areas. As a result, the auditorium was cleaned and necessary repairs were made.
Ninth grade students were assigned to St. Charles High making it a four-year high school.
A new band room was constructed adjacent to the auditorium, and renovation work was completed in Building “D” and in both gyms. An all-weather track and a student parking lot were also constructed on site.
Voters approved a $15 million bond issue most used for renovation at SCHS. The 1957 gym, 1960 wing, and the 1970 wing were demolished and the new construction allowed continuity both inside and outside the building. The result is the completely renovated and remodeled St. Charles High School that proudly stands today.
Building “D” was renovated to accommodate the Success Campus. The Industrial Technology program and Educationally Mentally handicapped (EMH) program moved to “A” and “C” buildings respectively.Throughout its long history, the facility has served a variety of needs and purposes, and new buildings and building additions were added in response to those needs. However, as the facility became a permanent, four-year high school, the educational program was forced to adapt its needs to the spaces and organization of the existing building; it was never planned, designed or even intended that these existing buildings should accommodate a four-year high school program. Nor could it be expected that those older buildings and facilities could support a state-of-the-art educational environment. The challenge facing the School District was one of converting this proud landmark into a modern educational facility, ready to meet the needs of the 21st century.In June of 1993, The DMA Corporation was commissioned by the School District of the City of St. Charles to conduct and complete the arduous five-year process of the facility improvements at the St. Charles High School complex. The result of the remodeled high school is what stands today.