|Cairo Camelot High School Building – 2007|
|Photo Taken by Howard Thomas|
The History of Cairo Camelot High School
Cairo (population 3,632) is located in the farthest southern tip of Illinois in the farthest southern portion of Alexander County. Cairo is located at the fork where the Mississippi River meets the Ohio River. U.S. Route 51 is the main roadway leading to and from Cairo. Interstate Highway 57 travels by the northwest side of town. Illinois Routes 3 and 37 lead the way from Cairo to the north. The Illinois Central Gulf and Conrail railroads lay tracks through Cairo as well.
Cairo has a very rich and storied history in the early settlement of the United States. Cairo’s location along the Ohio and MIssissippi Rivers made it an important city during the Civil War. Cairo serves as the County Seat of Alexander County. It was incorporated in 1858 and is the lowest land point in Illinois sitting at 279 feet above sea level.
Cairo was a very controversial city in the 1960s through the 1970s. It was somewhat of a segregated town and went through some very difficult times during the civil rights movement of the day. One of the results of the desegregation activities for public schools was the creation of Camelot High School. According to one source we read, Camelot High was a private school created in the 1960s.
We only know that Cairo Camelot High School was a co-educational parochial school for high school-aged students of Cairo through the 1970s, possibly into the mid1980s. It was created in 1969 by the Cairo Baptist Church.
As you can see by the photo above, the school building and gym for Camelot High School is still standing. It has, however, fallen into a very sad state and will likely be demolished.
Cairo Camelot High School Quick Facts
Year opened: 1969
Year closed: 1979
Camelot HS team nickname: the “Knights”
Camelot HS team colors: Red & White
Camelot HS fight song: School Song Sung to the tune of “Camelot”
We are certain the boys of Camelot High School competed in basketball. It is probable that if the school was co-educational the girls participated in basketball as well. Other sports such as baseball, softball, track, and possibly football may have been offered as well. Team nickname, uniform colors, seasonal records, coach’s names, and great accomplishments are all items we are anxious to add to this page.
Dances, plays, band, chorus, clubs, and other activities were probably a part of the Camelot High School experience as well.
From Cherie Browning (Camelot HS Class of 1977):
I was a student at Camelot from 8th-12th grades and graduated in 1977…there were 14 in my graduating class!
It was a co-educational parochial school, which was founded in the late 60’s by Cairo Baptist Church. The first year (or maybe two), classes were held in the church building. The building you have a picture of was the former Lincoln Elementary School, a public school which had been closed in approx 1967 when several elementary schools were consolidated to the newly built Emerson Elementary. The building stood vacant until Camelot purchased it to use for their High School.
The sports which were offered when I was a student were boys basketball and baseball, and girls basketball and softball were added approx 1974-75 school year. We also had JV and Varsity cheerleading squads. We did have school plays, homecoming dances and Jr/Sr Prom, and various clubs.
To my knowledge, we never won any sports championships, but that doesn’t give an accurate view of the accomplishments made there. We were a small, private school that competed with much larger public schools…..we had a lot of heart!!
Two accomplishments that I know we had…we ran candidates for state offices of the Illinois Beta Club Convention. Cherie Browning (me) won State Vice President in 1976, and Lawrence Flemming won State President in 1977.
We didn’t have a “fight song” per se, but did have a “school song”, which was to the melody of the song “Camelot”, from the soundtrack of the movie.
My family left Cairo shortly after my graduation…I do know that classes were still held in the school building thru 1977-1978 school year..and probably a year or so after that. I had been told that eventually the enrollment declined and the students which were left attended classes at Cairo Baptist church building, which went on until sometime in the 80’s.
I dont think I have any pictures of the school building…other than students on the front steps, etc.
Camelot also had an elementary school, which eventually included grades K-8, and was in the former Elmwood Elementary School building…an almost identical building several blocks away. Elmwood closed the same year as Lincoln. The Elmwood building burned several years ago. My Sr yr, the 8th grade moved to the high school building.
I loved Cairo, and my school! Thanks for caring enough to create this site…and preserving our history!!!”
Seeking More Information
If you wish to share any information regarding Cairo Camelot High School, especially a photo of the high school building, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org . You may also write us at:
Illinois HS Glory Days
6439 N. Neva St.
Chicago, Il. 60631