Gilman High School “Owls”

Gilman High School
A large brick building

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Built in 1922
Gilman High School Cornerstone
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The History of Gilman High School

Gilman (population 1,793) is located in upper-eastern Illinois in the west-central portion of Iroquois County.  At one time, and to a great extent today, Gilman was a sort of traveling hub for its area.  U.S. Routes 24 and 45 intersect in town. Interstate Highway 57 is routed to the west of Gilman.  Three railroad tracks, two owned by the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad and one owned by the Toledo, Peoria, & Western Railroad, all come together in the heart of Gilman.  A branch of the Spring Creek flows into the northwest side of town as well.

The history of the town and its educational efforts are in need of research.  It is known that Gilman offered schooling for its children shortly after, and maybe even before, the town was incorporated in the mid-1800s.  A high school served the town very proudly for well over eight decades.  In the early 1980s consolidation talks arose between the towns of Gilman, Onarga, and Danforth.  This effort resulted in the formation of the Iroquois West School District in 1983.

The high school for the new Iroquois West School District was located in Gilman and remains there today, in the Gilman High School building built in the 1920s.  A photo of the Gilman HS building is coming soon.

Gilman High School Quick Facts

Year opened:                     mid to late 1800s

Year closed:                      1983

Consolidated to:                 Iroquois West School District

HS Building today:              Iroquois West High School

Gilman HS nickname:         the “Owls”

Gilman school colors:         Red & Blue

Gilman School Fight Song:  “We’re Gonna Fight Fight Fight for Gilman High”

Tune of “Washington and Lee Swing”

                                                       Courtesy of GLORIA REITZ and her 1956 Yearbook “The OWL”


                                          When those red and blue boys fall in line,

                                          There’s gonna’ be another awful time.

                                          We’re gonna’ fight, fight, fight, for Gilman High,

                                          And for the games we’ve won or lost, we are, we are, we are,

                                          For Gilman High for everymore,

                                          And for the standards that we’re fighting for!

                                          We’re gonna’ roll Onarga* on the ground**.

                                          Yes we are, for Gilman High!

                                          Cha He!  Cha Ha!

                                          Cha Ha, Ha, Ha!

                                          Gilman High School

                                           Rah!  Rah!  Rah!

*Onarga or whatever opponent Gilman was playing.

**“ground” for football and “floor” for basketball

Gilman High School
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From the West Side


The Gilman High School Owls competed int he boys sports of football, basketball, track. It is possible that baseball was offered at one time as well.  The girls were offered basketball, volleyball, and track.  We are in need of the school fight song and conference affiliation for the GHS Owls.  If you have any of this information please forward it to us via e-mail at

*The “Fighting Owls” nickname for Gilman High was given to the school’s teams by Coach John Tarwain, who coached at Gilman in the late 1930s.

Boys Basketball

The Gilman Owls have a lengthy and fairly complete history of their basketball seasons on the IHSA website (  Only one Regional was won, however there are many seasons of success of which the better records are listed below.

1925-26                 First Season Listed

1927-28   13 – 8                                                        Coach Roger Stotz

1928-29     3 – 3                                                        Coach Roger Stotz

1929-30   14 – 7                                                        Coach Clarence Barnes

1931-32   15 – 9                                                        Coach Clarence Barnes

1936-37   16 – 6                                                        Coach John Tarwain

1937-38   17 – 11    Regional Champions                 Coach John Tarwain

1938-39   17 – 11                                                      Coach John Tarwain

1939-40   11 – 9                                                        Coach John Tarwain

1943-44   13 – 12                                                      Coach George Latham

1944-45   16 – 12                                                      Coach George Latham

1946-47                                                                   Coach Hampton

1951-52   16 – 8                                                        Coach Bob Freeman

1958-59   13 – 9                                                        Coaches Howard Edlinger, Dave


1961-62   12 – 12                                                      Coach Leslie Shadell

1966-67   12 – 11                                                      Coach Dan Slack

1967-68   22 – 4      Nice Season!!                              Coach Dan Slack

1969-70   12 – 12                                                      Coach Dan Slack

1971-72   20 – 5      Nice Season!!                              Coach Dan Slack

1972-73   19 – 7                                                        Coach Dan Slack

1973-74   14 – 11                                                      Coach Bill Harrison

1974-75   24 – 2      Great Season!!                            Coach Bill Harrison

1979-80   19 – 7                                                        Coach Bill Harrison

1980-81   19 – 7                                                        Coach Bill Harrison

1981-82   23 – 3      Great Season!!                            Coach Bill Harrison

1982-83   18 – 9      Last Season as GHS Owls           Coach Bill Harrison

Boys Football

The Gilman Owls had many great seasons on the grid iron.  The problem is they are not currently available on the IHSA website.  Two of the GHS squads made the IHSA State Playoffs. The boys of 1981-82 even made it to the Final Four!Their accomplishments are listed below. Many of the records listed were supplied by Tom Sikorski.

1950  7-1-1                                                                                Coach Al Bohrer

1951  5-3-1                                                                                Coach Al Bohrer

1954  6-2-1    Wil-Ro-Kee Conference Champs                          Coach Len Burt

1959  2-6       Kan-Wil Conference Co-Champs (2-1 in league)  Coach Dave Casstevens

1962  6-2       Vermillion Valley Conference Co-Champs           Coach Marv Hamilton

                     (first year in the league)

1963  6-2-1     2nd place VV Conference                                       Coach Marv Hamilton

1966  6-2        2nd place (tie) VV Conference                                Coach Marv Hamilton

1967  6-1-1     Vermillion Valley Conference Co-Champs          Coach Ray Gibson

1968  9-0        Vermillion Valley Conference Champions          Coach Ray Gibson

1969  5-3        2nd place (tie) VV conference                                 Coach Gerald Martin

1971  6-2        Vermillion Valley Conference Champions          Coach Gerald Martin

1972  6-1-1     2nd place (tie) VV Conference                                 Coach Gerald Martin

1977  5-3                                                                                    Coach John Boma

1979  5-4        2nd place (tie) VV Conference                                 Coach John Boma

1980  8-2        Vermillion Valley Conference Champs                Coach John Boma

                      Qualified for Class 1A Football Playoffs

                      Sweet 16 Qualifier

Lost to Chenoa  24 – 6


1981  11-1       Vermillion Valley Conference Champs               Coach John Boma

                      Qualified for Class 1A Football Playoffs              Coach John Boma

                      Final Four Qualifier

                      Beat Octavia 20 – 6

                      Beat Arcola     8 – 6

Lost to Maroa-Forsyth 10 – 8

1982   7-2        2nd place East Central Conference                         Coach John Boma

                       (first year in the league)

Gilman last fielded a football team in 1982.

Boys Track & Field

One name sticks out above the rest when it comes to State Meet Competition in Gilman High School track lore.  Reo Rorem for two straight years was a terror at the IHSA State Class 1A Meet.  During back to back seasons in 1975 and 1976 Reo was the long distance king of the small schools in Illinois.  His efforts in the 1-mile and 2-mile runs placed Gilman HS 4TH and 7Th respectively in those years.  Check out Reo’s heroics and the final team standings below.

1974-75       Team Finished 4TH in STATE MEET Competition!!

                   Individual Medalist

                   Reo Rorem                1 Mile Run               STATE CHAMPION!!

                                                     2 Mile Run               2ND PLACE

                   Final Team Standings

                   1.)  Maple Park (Kaneland) HS          34

2.)  Hoopeston (H.-East Lynn) HS      18

2.)  Granville (Putnam County) HS      18

4.)  GILMAN HIGH SCHOOL             10

4.)  Prophetstown HS                        10

6.)  Mahomet (M.-Seymour) HS           9

6.)  Carthage (Hancock Central) HS      9

8.)  Stillman Valley HS                        8

8.)  Mt. Sterling (Brown County) HS      8

8.)  Clifton (Central) HS                        8

8.)  Watseka HS                                 8

8.)  Flanagan HS                                 8

1975-76       Team Finished 7TH in STATE MEET Competition!!

                   Individual Medalist

                   Reo Rorem                1 Mile Run               STATE CHAMPION!!

                                                     2 Mile Run               STATE CHAMPION!!

                   Final Team Standings

                   1.)  Granville (Putnam County) HS          23

2.)  Maple Park (Kaneland)  HS              22

3.)  Farmington (East) HS                      17

4.)  Lebanon HS                                    14

4.)  Peru (St. Bede) HS                          14

4.)  Momence HS                                  14

7.)  GILMAN HIGH SCHOOL                  12

8.)  Paxton HS                                       11

9.)  Melrose Park (Walther Lutheran) HS  10

9.)  Polo HS                                          10

Girls Athletics

We know the Lady Owls competed in sports.  We are in need of research and information from an alum or area fan to fill in the blanks.  Please contact us if you have any of this information regarding the girl’s athletic program.

If You Have Any Further Information

Please forward any further information to us at

You can also write to us at:

Illinois HS Glory Days

6439 N. Neva St.

Chicago, Il.  60631

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