Chicago Lourdes High School “Lions”

Lourdes High School
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Courtesy of “A History of Offices, Agencies, & Institutions in the Archdiocese of Chicago”

                             The History of Chicago Lourdes High School

Chicago (population: 2.8 million) is located along the shores of Lake Michigan in northeastern Illinois. From its early days as a Potawatomie settlement, then as the site of Fort Dearborn in 1803, which led up to the formation of the city and its incorporation in 1833 and 1837, respectively, the “City of Big Shoulders” became a major location in the US for various reasons. Railroads and water transportation were two reasons why Chicago was one of the fastest growing cities in the country during the 19th Century.

Today, numerous railroads and highways of interstate, US, state, and local designations bring people together in the city on a daily basis, as does air traffic at O’Hare and Midway Airports. Chicago is a melting pot of people from many nationalities, making it ethnically diverse, and thus, is referred to as “the cultural, economic, and financial capital of the Midwest” (according to Wikipedia).

Lourdes High School opened for business in the middle of the Great Depression as high school-aged girls began attending classes in 1936 on the South Side of Chicago in the Bridgeport neighborhood. The school was operated by the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis, and served its purpose to educate young ladies under the name of Lourdes until its closing in 2002. The remaining students were admitted to DeLaSalle Institute, and moved into a building that was used by St. Mary of Perpetual Help. The building in which Lourdes was located is now used by being used as John Hancock High School.

Lourdes alumni have formed themselves an alumnae association that deals with gathering all 8,000 or so graduates together to remember the school and what it meant to their teenage years. The following link gives some details:

Lourdes High School Logo
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courtesy of Margaret Grabowski

Year opened:         1936

Year closed:           2002

Now used as:         John Hancock High School

School Colors:        Blue & White

School nickname:   the “Lions”

School song:          “The Lourdian”

                                        Submitted by Richard Stalmack

                             When a Lourdian walks down the street,

                             She looks a hundred per from head to feet. 

                             She’s got that smile, that style, that winning way,  

                             Why just to look at her, you will recognize her and

                             You’ll say now that’s a girl I’d like to know,

                             She’s got that Lourdes High Spirit, Pep and

                             Go……………………’s hard to be beat a Lourdian!


Lourdes students had the opportunity to compete in athletics while it was a member of the Girls’ Chicagoland Athletic Conference (also known as GCAC). Basketball was a big sport, as well as volleyball and badminton. It could be possible that softball and track were also offered at the school, but there are no records to prove this on the IHSA website (


In a two-year period, Lourdes established itself as a top team in the state of Illinois. Heading into the AA tournament during the 1987-88 season, coach Don Haynes’ girls were fifth in the final regular season poll conducted by the Associated Press that season. All-stater Arlena Roach and her teammates made it to the Elite Eight in Urbana-Champaign before bowing out in a tight game to Naperville North.

1986-87AA          Regional Champions         unknown

1987-88AA  26-4  ELITE EIGHT IN STATE!!  Coach Don Haynes

                           Regional Champions

                            Sectional Champions

                             Defeated Chicago Heights Marian 65-41 in supersectional

Lost to Naperville North in quarterfinals, 40-39

The program is also mentioned in the IHSA record books for scoring at both ends of the spectrum. The 1988 team defeated Good Counsel 121-41 in a January contest for one of the highest point totals, but less than two years later in November 1990, Mother McAuley outscored Lourdes, 107-6, in one of the largest margins of victory.


During the springs of 1979 and 1980, Lourdes was one of the top 10 teams in the state finals standings. Led by Sandy Colby, the school was also blessed with having an outstanding player who made it to the singles finals both years and brought home a state title in 1980.

1979      Tied for 9th in state             coach unknown


1  Arlington Heights Arlington       19

8  Oak Forest                                  6.5

9  Springfield Sacred Heart            6

Waukegan East                          6

Barrington                                   6

Burbank Reavis                          6

              Chicago Lourdes                      6


                INDIVIDUAL PLACER

                Sandy Colby —  2nd in singles

(lost to Linda French of Elmhurst York in finals, 11-2, 11-3)

1980        Tied for 9th in state           coach unknown


1  Arlington Heights Arlington        20

8  Oak Park-River Forest                7.5

9  Tinley Park Andrew                     7

Wheaton North                           7

                Chicago Lourdes                      7

                INDIVIDUAL PLACER

                   Sandy Colby — STATE CHAMPION in singles!!!

(defeated Linda French of Elmhurst York in finals, 0-3, 11-7, 11-6)


This may have been the most consistent sport that the school played, based on the number of plaques won in the state tournament series. In an eight-year period, Lourdes brought home five pieces of hardware for their trophy case.

The Lions’ volleyball history goes back as far as 1940. That year, the Catholic girls schools of Lourdes, Loretto HighLoretto AcademySt. Martin, and Mercy competed in a tournament. In 1944, the Catholic Youth Organization began sponsoring an annual girls’ tournament among the Chicago Archdiocese schools, according to prep historian Robert Pruter.

1979AA              District Champions     coach unknown
1980AA              District Champions     coach unknown
1984AA              Regional Champions  coach unknown
1985AA              Regional Champions  coach unknown
1986AA              Regional Champions  coach unknown  


Even though Lourdes is no longer a high school operated by the Sisters of Saint Joseph – Third Order of Saint Francis, there is a need to preserve the school’s history. According to its alumni relations director, Margaret Grabowski, she is asking for all Lourdes alums and friends for help:

“Part of my job description at De La Salle is to work with Lourdes High School Alums, and I am working on creating a welcoming atmosphere at the De La Salle Lourdes Hall Campus for the women who attended Lourdes High School.

If you had any pictures of the interior and exterior of the building, a copy of the school song, any memorabilia, etc. or if you happen to know where I can go to do more research on the history of the high school I would really appreciate your help in accomplishing my goals for the women of Lourdes High School.

Please feel free to email me back at with any information you have. Or you can call me at either: 312-842-7355, ext 138, or at 773-650-6800, ext 194.

Thank you again for all of your help.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Margaret Grabowski

Assistant Director of Admissions/Alumni Relations-De La Salle Lourdes Hall


That is a question we need help answering. If you are a graduate or know something about the school’s history, we’d like to hear from you. Items such as the words to the school song, names of famous alums, coaches and athletes, as well as win-loss records are greatly appreciated. A photo of the school during its prime would also be a welcome addition. Please contact us at or you can send your information via USPS to us at:

Illinois High School Glory Days

6439 North Neva

Chicago, IL  60631

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