Chicago St. Paul High School

St. Paul’s High School
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Courtesy of Cindy Pytko Temanak

                                The History of Chicago St. Paul High School

Chicago (population 2.8 million) is located in far northeastern Illinois along the banks of Lake Michigan. It is the third largest city in the United States. Chicago is home to several great enterprises including one of the world’s busiest airports, O’Hare International. Several Interstates and Illinois Routes will lead you to Chicago.

St. Paul High School was opened in the fall of 1964 as a co-operative experiment between the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Chicago Public School (CPS) system in dual enrollment and shared time with Kinzie (later renamed Kennedy) High School on the southwest side of Chicago near Midway Airport. Talks started in 1962 with CPS Superintendent Dr. Benjamin Willis and the Archdiocese in an effort to share costs on insurance for physical education classes, which was were rising at the time due to the lack of proper facilities.

The CPS agreed to a four-year program with the Archdiocese, beginning in 1965, but was challenged by a lawsuit filed in May 1964 that claimed that shared time violated statutory and constitutional provisions. The motion was heard and dismissed in circuit court in 1965, appealed to the state appellate courts and rejected in November 1965, then dismissed on February 18, 1966.

One class at a time enrolled at St. Paul, taking religion, language arts, social studies, and critical thinking courses at St. Paul, with the remainder of the courses (including PE) held at Kinzie/Kennedy, which was a short walk away. Two hundred and fifty-two students were admitted in 1965, and when this first class graduated in 1969, 525 students were at St. Paul. The faculty consisted of members from the Christian Brothers community for the boys as well as Sisters of St. Joseph for the girls.

However, freshmen admissions did not keep up after the initial class was enrolled, dropping off to totals of 217, 170, 156, and 105 in the next four years. Despite some drawbacks that were discovered in a survey of students, both parties agreed to continue the co-operative program. Concerns of the students included an uneasiness to graduate, wanting to attend one school all day instead of having the dual enrollments, a longer day due to having to take a religion class, and the 20-minute walk between the two campuses.

St. Paul decided to close the school in the spring of 1977 after the enrollment continued to decline, increasing operating costs, and the lower demand of continuing a shared-time program were considered. The majority of the students decided to transfer to Kennedy to finish their education, while the building was sold in 1980 to a group who had intended to convert it into a medical center. According to Tim Hadac, “The building is long gone. Single-family homes were built on the campus site in the 1980s.”

George Fornero adds the following information about St. Paul: “One of the comments on the St. Paul High School, Chicago, page mentions the school was never called Kinzie High School. That is correct. By the time the public high school opened in 1964, it was called John F. Kennedy High School. However, all references to the school in 1963 and the beginning of 1964 indicate Kinzie high School. My sources are: The New World newspaper, March 13, 1964; Chicago Daily News, March 10, 1964, Chicago Tribune, March 11, 1964, and The Southwest News-Herald, March 12, 1964.”

Kennedy High School
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Courtesy of Cindy Pytko Temenak (class of 1969)
Banner of St. Paul’s school yearbook
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Courtesy of Cindy Pytko Temanek


Year opened:                 1965

1st graduating class:     1969

Year closed:                   1977

School colors:                Burgundy & White

(Sports played at Kennedy HS, not offered at St. Paul)


We have been informed that St. Paul did not offer athletics to its student body, but certainly had to have offered other activities to round out their education experiences while attending the school. Chorus was certainly offered as was a newspaper and yearbook, as evidenced by memories listed below. But were there more activities offered? We’d like to hear from alums to hear more about them.


From Norbert Olaska:

“I was a member of the St. Paul High School Chorus from Sept.1967- June 1971. Brother Konrad founded the St. Paul High Chorus in Sept. 1966. Previously he had been Director of the St. Patrick’s High School Chorus. Under his direction the Chorus was the equivalent of the Kennedy High School Girl’s Chorus. In Sept. 1969 Brother Michael became the Director. He served as Director until June 1973. Marie Kunovic (Class of 1970) became Director in Sept 1973. In Sept. 1976 the St. Paul High School Chorus was disbanded.”


From John Suguitan:

“I am a graduate of both St. Paul High School and John F. Kennedy High School on the Southwest side of Chicago. I cruised your website and noticed that you had a brief overview of St. Paul. Having attended all four (4) years at St. Paul, I know first hand what it was like.

“I attended 1/2 the day at St. Paul, broke for lunch….and then attended the other 1/2 of the day at John F. Kennedy. Sounds strange, but it wasn’t to us…it make perfect sense…and it was very balanced.

“I don’t recall that we had St. Paul school colors or a school fight song…it made little sense in that we didn’t have any official sport teams. Kennedy had that… that is, John F. Kennedy High School had the football, baseball, basketball, swim team and all official organized team sports. We had two ping pong tables in the common area inside St. Paul, if that counts for sports (just kidding).

“You must understand, in my opinion, the lack of any St. Paul sports teams was probably one of the key drawbacks that led to the downfall of St. Paul…as, more and more, parents and students felt that sports teams were more and more important…other Catholic high schools like St. Lawrence, and St. Rita, and Brother Rice on the South Side of Chicago started to attract all the good catholic boys  I think its a shame, as academics and religious classes became less and less important to parents and students, which led to the downfall of St. Paul. I think that is a real shame.

“St. Paul offered Religion Classes, English, and Social Studies. St. Paul did not offer band…again that was offered at Kennedy. We did have a GREAT chorus..I was a member of the St. Paul Chorus, led by Brother Michael. We traveled out of state and recorded our concerts every year. Yes, we had our own yearbook… and we had our own Student Council, my best friend Nick Selwa was the president of that student council our senior year at St. Paul (1972).

“St. Paul had a GREAT school dances…they were, honestly, the best in the neighborhood. We had GREAT BANDS, including a neighborhood favorite, TW4….you know TW4 now…because they later changed their name to STYX. I remember seeing them play at two St. Paul dances.

“The point I want to make to you guys is that you underestimate the importance and influence of a Catholic education in the city. Although St. Paul was located in a comparatively speaking, “good neighborhood of Chicago,” that is, the Southwest Side of Chicago, it was still the city. We had gangs, drugs, and race riots. In fact I remember several race riots that occurred in my high school years…and they occurred ONLY at John F. Kennedy, the public school.

“Imagine the contrast in educational atmospheres…I would go to Kennedy where there was little discipline if any in some classrooms.. the gangs roamed freely in the hallways and Chicago Policeman were ALWAYS present at Kennedy. We had race riots every year…and there were routine fights not only outside of school but in the school as well.

“St. Paul, on the other hand was controlled with discipline by the Christian Brothers and Sisters. Religion classes and prayer as well as chapel was part of our everyday school life. The brothers could use physical discipline and did so whenever we deserved it…and we did pretty regularly.

“I look back at St. Paul, with NO remorse that we didn’t have organized sports or that I didn’t know my school fight song…are you kidding me? I look back at my 4 years at St. Paul remember how the brothers and sisters of St. Paul made a difference in my life. They went out of their way to make sure that we knew about the Love of God and the Salvation of Jesus Christ was REAL, and we saw that every day in their real-life witness.

“I also look back at the friendships that I had at St. Paul as well. We were a very close group of students.

“Thank God for St Paul High School.”

More memories from a former student:

“The high school was never called Kinzie (AUTHOR’S NOTE: see comment above from George Fornero). That is the Public elementary school next to the high school. The high school opened as Kennedy and is still there.

“The long days came from scheduling problems. One might have a very long break in between the two schools. For example in my Freshman year, I had a 2 and a half hour break mid-day. I went from early morning to late afternoon. I liked having the long break, because I hung out in the park and got to know a lot of people.

“The main problem with attending Saint Paul HS is that Kennedy HS stopped letting St. Paul students sign up for special extra-curricular activities, especially popular ones, such as cheerleading. They claimed it was due to scheduling, but I was told it was due to the teachers believing the St. Paul students could join St, Paul things. Girls that wanted to be on cheer or pom pon quit Saint Paul. Some boys in sports also had to quit St. Paul or the sport — especially things like football.

“In those days, girls were not allowed to participate in sports — otherwise this would also have been an issue. There were also problems in getting honors and AP classes–I was in those, which was one main reason that my day was so long–I had to go long enough to get the classes I needed.

“St. Paul did not have competing sports teams. There were vibrant intramural sports. What it had was flag football for boys and volleyball for girls. The flag football was very popular. There was a big yard for it. There was no band or drama or any of that — those and sports were at Kennedy. St. Paul had CHOIR. It was a mixed male and female choir that sang pop songs. Almost anyone could get in, but there were a lot of practices. This was run by Brother Michael O’Hearn.

“There were good dances held – with elaborate decorations. And yes, John Sugitan is right — these were wonderful dances. The bands were incredible and there were often 3 bands per dance. They were sometimes held on an indoor- rockfest kind of mode–with bands in different of the team-teaching rooms.

“The building was modern, low, and experimental. There were no windows to the outside. There were skylights and when it rained, it was so noisy in the classrooms that teaching had to stop. There were big rooms that were 4 classrooms divided by folding walls. They called these team-teaching rooms. The idea was to have flexibility by being able to open the rooms and share the discussion. The floors were carpeted. Each room was painted with one wall a nice color. There was also some room called something like “Resource Center.” The only “resource” I remember being in there was comfy bean bag chairs.

“There were cozy modern couches and chairs in the hallways. The Commons was an area with a few steps leading down to it–and everyone sat on the steps. The big open area had the ping pong tables, pay phones, chairs and couches and coffee tables. There was no such thing at Kennedy and in those days, no such thing at any school. Back then, schools were very institutional.

“The administrators claimed there were two rules–no chewing gum and no gym shoes. The gym shoes supposedly kicked up the carpet from the floor. In reality, there were hundreds of unwritten rules, that could be changed at the drop of a hat.

“St. Paul was the only Catholic school around at the time that mixed boys and girls. There was a student council at St. Paul. Only boys were allowed to run for President, and only a girl could be Vice President, only a boy could be Treasurer, and only a girl could be Secretary.

“There were also held these “retreats” at a really beautiful place in Plano, Illinois. Some teachers also initiated “rap groups.”

“St. Paul school building was sold to a developer, demolished, and houses were built. John Sugitan is right–the Brothers and Sisters and lay teachers at St. Paul were quite wonderful, one and all. And the students were interesting and good people. Friendships were warm and close. It was a real school, unlike Kennedy, which was like a Factory.

“St. Paul had no graffiti and no vandalism. At Kennedy, if you dared to walk into a bathroom, it was filled with smokers, graffiti, wads of toilet paper shot up onto the ceiling, and a prison-style all-metal mirror. At St. Paul, the bathroom was beautiful and modern, with bright colors, lots of mirrors, sparkling clean, not a trace of graffiti. It just was not that kind of place. There were some pretty cool and progressive lay teachers, maybe some of the religious were also, and some of the students were also. That is all I can remember at this time. I am sure my memories will spark those of others.”

From Susanne Sullivan (Rizzo) (class of ’69):

“I was in the first class that attended both schools (1965-1969). The comments I read are accurate – the difference between the two was dramatic and deep.

“St. Paul had a Debate Team (briefly), Yearbook staff, Newspaper Staff and one of the best choirs in the city – originally conducted by Brother Conrad in 1965 and, I believe, turned over to Brother Michael when Brother Conrad became principal in the fall of 1969. Brother Conrad came to St. Paul with a reputation for excellence thanks to his work as a choir director at St. Michael’s on the north side before his transfer to St. Paul’s. I have a particularly fond memory of a girl in the ’70 class getting talked into being decorated as a dancing Christmas tree for the Christmas concert and having a wonderful time. You may recognize her name – she’s a well known peace advocate – Kathy Kelly.

“I did try out for, and made the Cheer squad at Kennedy my sophomore year. I chose not to be part of the squad because, due to practice schedules, I had to choose between cheer and choir. But it was my choice. If others in later classes were not given the same opportunities, there was a change in the policy.

“The valedictorian of our class at Kennedy was also a St. Paul student. Yes, scheduling was challenging if you wanted the AP and Honors classes at Kennedy and it could turn into a long day. I look back and think that the entire set-up helped me clarify the need for, and reward of, self discipline. I learned to get most of my homework done during the forced study periods in my schedule so I could get the classes I wanted and still have time to work my part time job evenings and weekends. I needed the job to afford the clothes I wanted (remember when these were SO important?!?) and to save some money toward college expenses. College – that’s another one of the dramatic differences. I honestly don’t remember the exact statistics from my class, but I do recall that the percentage of St. Paul/Kennedy graduates that went on to a college or university was stunningly higher than the percentage of Kennedy graduates that went on to a college or university.

“On a smaller, more personal scale, I remember many conversations among friends and acquaintances about current events which, at that time, included the Viet Nam war and drugs. At St. Paul, however, the teachers were not only concerned, but invested in our futures, and many such conversations took place in their presence and/or with their guidance.

“I remember believing – and I still do – that the Catholic education system put their best teachers into St. Paul because it was an experiment that they knew would be watched. We all really benefited from that. One teacher I was privileged to have was Sister Kateri (old name – when she still wore the old habit). I am a Math geek by nature and by talent. She, however, gave me a wonderful gift – a love of literature. She was clearly so in love with these books and stories, and so enthusiastic about getting to share them with us that it was contagious. To this day, I remember the CORRECT quote from Shakespeare as “All that glitters is not gold.” I thought of her many times when I read the Harry Potter books – I’ll bet she found them delicious!

“And then there was Brother Cormack. He was young (I realize that now), well built (I realized that then, too) and used to teaching only boys. Because, however, we were obligated to take all of our social studies classes at St. Paul and he was the best qualified teacher for Economics, he was coerced (ordered?) to teach an Honors class with both boys and girls. I was in his first mixed class. After we stopped being afraid of him, and he stopped being afraid of us, it turned out he truly was an outstanding, thought provoking teacher, wanting to know WHY you believed what you did and could you back it up. I’m taken several higher level Econ classes since then and none of those teachers were as effective at letting me think for myself.

“Come to think of it, just the fact that I remember these teachers’ names, let alone the positive influence they had on me over 40 years ago, is a testament to the education I received.

“Thank you, God, for St. Paul’s.”

Sr. Kateri Mark, former teacher at St. Paul
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Courtesy of Cindy Pytko Temanek
Brother Konrad, former St. Paul teacher
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From Dr. Lynne Saccaro (president/principal of Resurrection College Prep High School in Chicago):

“I found the information about St. Paul/Kennedy very interesting. Though I did not attend, I thought your alums might be interested to know that Sr. Kateri (Lorraine Mark) is currently a resident at Resurrection Life Center 7370 West Talcott. She suffered a stroke a number of years ago (submitted 4/30/2013).”

From Cindy Pytko Temenak (class of 1969-First Graduating Class from St. Paul High School.):

“Hello, I found your site and it brought back a lot of memories.

“We did have school colors- Burgundy and White. I was in the Chorus conducted by Brother Conrad, it was great, and our uniforms for the chorus were Burgundy and white. We recorded albums, two of them. We came in on a Saturday and sang until it was just right and recorded. Terry Linden on the piano. The Chorus was mixed, as opposed to our classes which were segregated boys/girls, until we had Brother Cormack for Economics, Senior year, as Sue Rizzo said in her piece. That was the only class we had at St. Paul with the boys, that I remember.

“I played in a volleyball league after school, nothing formal, and I think the boys played softball. We didn’t have formal teams since those were at Kennedy High School. The girls did not have sport teams, not allowed, only boys’ sport teams.

We had a school newspaper at St. Paul, I was a photographer for that. We had a ‘Catholic Action’ group, where we visited poor areas, or old people’s homes, to help where we could. We had the school dances. We had Chorus, I don’t remember other clubs. We did have a Yearbook too, a paperbacked one, in addition to the Invictus, the Kennedy High Year Book.

“It was an excellent education, one that helped me greatly in the University of Illinois @Champaign-Urbana. Sue Rizzo also attended U of IL.

“Sister Kateri was one of the best teachers I ever had. I always loved to read in grammar school and with her teaching, she expanded our literary horizons all the more. She instituted, “Independent Study,’ our Senior year, where we could read whatever interested us and then write a paper. No classroom sessions, she was preparing us for college, with no one leading you by the hand.

“I saw the Saint Kateri statue in front of the church in Santa Fe, NM, a few years ago and thought of Sister Kateri, her patron Saint. Sister Christopher was our Social Studies teacher. She was very good too, all the instructors we had were the best, the Sisters of St. Joseph, from La Grange, IL, and the Christian Brothers, since St. Paul High School was considered an ‘experiment.’

“We were in the National Honor Society and most of us from St. Paul continued on to college, in a time when it wasn’t the common practice after high school.

“It’s 44 years since we graduated, hard to believe. When I was a Freshman in 1965, I couldn’t picture myself older than 17 years old. Now it’s 44 years later, but it still is nice to reminisce about those years at St. Paul.”

From “Judiann” (class of 1976):

“I’m from the class of ’76, and all the memories just came rushing back. For some reason, Marie Kunovic came to mind then led me to this article. She actually sang at my wedding in 1977. The dances were amazing, I’ll always look back so fondly on those days and wish life was now as it was then.

“Before getting marries, we had to have pre-cana classes, and ironically they were held at St. Paul. Brother Konrad gave them, and it was strange having my former “principal” talking to me about marriage and birth control. Brother Tom tried to start a girls’ softball team, but we were told it would not be allowed. We held practices between the school and rectory on 59th Street.

“Those were the ‘glory days’ and I will forever hold them dearly in my heart.”

From Cheryl Mejta:

“Does anyone know what happened to Sister Damian? She was a blessing in my life. She saw me for who I was, making sure I had appropriate opportunities for success. Without her belief in me, I am not sure I would have been able to get my Ph.D. in Psychology.

“It is a shame that St. Paul’s closed. I remember the common area where the girls and boys were able to socialize. I also recall the dances we used to have. It was a manageable school where it was difficult for anyone to get lost in the crowd.”


and we’re welcoming you to come in and share what you know about the history of Chicago St. Paul High School. You can submit your information to us at or send it to us at the address listed below.

Illinois High School Glory Days

6439 North Neva

Chicago, IL 60631

St. Paul’s students gathering
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Courtesy of Cindy Pytko Temanek
  1. Girls were not “forbidden” to play sports in the Chicago public schools at this time. There was very little interest in sports for girls and even less money.

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