The History of Chicago Saints Peter & Paul High School
Chicago (population 2.8 million) is located in far northeastern Illinois in the center of Cook County. The town became a vital hub for transportation and industry in the mid-1800’s. Its’ location on the banks of Lake Michigan and the Chicago River gave it access to the early transportation mode of the day: water.
Chicago has utilized the lake and its early growth to become one of the most prominent cities in the world. O’Hare Airport is one of the world’s busiest. Several major highways and Illinois routes lead you to and from Chicago as well.
|Saints Peter & Paul High School was located in the South Chicago neighborhood as a co-ed parish school, serving the children of Polish families that were already settled in Chicago. The school was started with 12 students and one nun from the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate from Joliet in the fall of 1936, adding one grade at a time until it was a four-year school in 1940.Following World War II, Saints Peter & Paul went all-girls in 1948, maintaining an enrollment of 330 students throughout the 1950’s. At its peak, the order had 11 nuns on the faculty in the fall of 1957, but that was cut nearly in half to six by 1965. In its final year of operation, the school had 273 students enrolled, which was one of the reasons why the school closed its doors.
Other factors included the lack of religious personnel that were teaching at the school, financial problems, and the difficulty of conducting classes with limited facilities.
Following the 1969 spring graduation, remaining students were assisted in transferring to Mercy, Aquinas, or St. Francis deSales High Schools. The school building itself was used as a grade school until 1982 when it closed, then was later converted into a community center.
|FACT ABOUT CHICAGO STS. PETER & PAUL HIGH SCHOOL
Year opened: 1936
Became 4-yr school: 1940
Became all-girls’: 1948
Year closed: 1969
School colors: unknown
School nickname: unknown
School song: unknown
Regardless of one might believe, there was no information found about student life outside of the classroom at Sts. Peter & Paul. There certainly had to be dances, band, chorus, intramurals, and more at the school. We are accepting any information that an alumnus or friend may have at the addresses listed below.
from Helen (Bahr) Bernier (class of 1968):
“I was there from 1964-68. Since we were an all-girl HS, we did not have dances. We basically followed sporting events and dances at Mt. Carmel HS. We had a Thespian club that put on many events. We did have a choral group, also.
“We had gym classes, but had to go to the public school for gym. I don’t remember if it was Bowen or CVS, whichever one is closer.
“About two years ago (in 2016), there was an episode of “Chicago Fire” and they were at (St.) Peter and Paul. It showed at some sort of a community center, but do not know if it really is one.”
From RW Wagner (dated 2/23/2018):
“I graduated from 8th grade at St. Peter and Paul in 1960. It had 1st through 8th grade school classes coed, and 9 through 12 at the high school level for girls only.
“My 8th grade nun was Sister Anne Marie. Principal at the time was Sister Balisa (sp?). The janitor’s name was Joe.
“Priests that I remember were Father Crump and Father Kopecke, (who) died in a fire in 1957-58 in the rectory.
“There were approx. 40 kids per class in each room. It was a poor parish and never had pictures taken of our class. Have good memories, but would have been nice to have pictures. My two sisters went there as well.”
From Sandra Montrose Olivier (nee’ Novak, class of 1957) (dated 8/17/2023):
“I graduated in 1957 and went on to the College of Saint Francis in Joliet, Illinois, the “flagship“ school of the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate. School colors were blue and gold. My older sister graduated from SSPP (maybe you could call that the nickname) in 1947. I don’t remember a school song.
“The school was small, but top notch, academically. We could only choose between two foreign languages, Latin and Spanish. Math courses were algebra and geometry; science classes were biology and chemistry. When I got to college, I was well prepared to move on to the more advanced courses available.
“We didn’t have a band; we had a drama club, student government, and debate society. PE classes were volleyball at Bessemer Park. Sophomores conferred beanies on incoming freshmen; we wore them as head coverings to Mass at SSPP. Our uniforms were navy vests and box pleated skirts in wool serge and white cotton blouses with long sleeves and French cuffs—had to use cuff links and do a lot of ironing!”
THE TIME IS NOW….
to let us know about Sts. Peter & Paul High School on Chicago’s South Side. Although it was only open 33 years, the school had to be full of life. We would like to hear from you, whether you graduated from the school, are a friend of the school, or knew someone who went there. There are two ways to contact us:
by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
or mail: Illinois High School Glory Days
6439 North Neva
Chicago, IL 60631