Built in 1950, still in use at McLean-Waynesville GS
The History of McLean High School
McLean (population 808) is located on Interstate 55 at the intersection of U.S. Route 136. McLean was at one time one of the many famous stops along the old Route 66 roadway and is home to the Dixie Truckstop. It is located approximately 17 miles southwest of Bloomington in southwestern McLean County. The Union Pacific Railroad runs through the center of town.
The following history of the town and its school system was provided by our own Kev Varney:
“The history of the education in McLean dates back to the early 1840’s when a school house was built in what is now known as Mount Hope Township (near today’s McLean). The building was built of logs and was later moved to McLean around 1857, before another building was built in 1868. High school studies began in 1878 with a two-year program, which later was upgraded to a three-year school in 1882, then a four-year school in 1907. A fire destroyed the grade and high school in October 1917, causing a vote in the village to build separate buildings for both grade and high schoolers. The new buildings debuted in 1920, while a new gym was added in 1950.
In 1955, residents in Waynesville closed their schools and sent their children to McLean, forming McLean-Waynesville High School. M-W would remain in session in the McLean HS building until the spring of 1968, at which time Armington came into the fold for the next four years (1972). At that time, McLean, Waynesville, and Armington along with five other communities (Atlanta, Danvers, Hopedale, Minier, and Stanford) officially banded together to open the present-day Olympia HS in rural Stanford, as the result of a November 1966 vote. The majority of the McLean HS building was demolished in the spring of 1980.”
McLean houses a grade school that serves the Olympia District for McLean, Waynesville, and the southern portion of the district. Most of the original McLean High School building was razed to make room for a newer McLean-Waynesville Grade School building, which was constructed in 1980-81. The grade achool kept just the original McLean gymnasium for its use.
McLean High School Quick Facts
Year opened: 1878 (as a 2-yr school)
Three-year school began: 1882
Four-year school opened: 1907
Year merged with Waynesville: 1955
Year Armington was added: 1968
Year merged to the Olympia District: 1972
School nickname: Colts
School colors: Navy & Orange
School yearbook: “The Hub” (thru 1968)
School Fight Songs: Two used (see below)
1)We’re Loyal To You, McLean High! (used thru 1955)
Sung to the University of Illinois Fight Song Tune
Click play button below and sing along
We’re loyal to you McLean High
We’re orange and blue, McLean High
We’ll back you to stand
‘Gainst the best in the land
For we know you have sand, McLean High!
So crack out the ball, McLean High
We’re backing you all, McLean High
Our team is our fame protector:
On boys, for we expect a
Victory from you McLean High!
Che-he, cha-ha, cha-ha-ha-ha,
McLean High School
Rah, Rah, RAH!
Fling out that dear old flag of
Orange and Blue,
Lead on your sons and daughters
Fighting for you
Like men of old, on giants.
Placing reliance, shouting defiance
Amid the broad green plains that nourish our land,
For honest Labor and for Learning we stand.
And unto thee we pledge our heart and our hand,
Dear Alma Mater, McLean HIGH!
2) McLean-Waynesville Cheer Song (used 1955-68)
sung to the tune of the Illinois Wesleyan University fight song
So let’s join in a cheer, while we’re all gathered here,
Cheer for old M-W,
We are ready to fight for the Orange and the Blue
Of our dear old high school…rah! rah!
For her honor and fame, and her glorious name,
We will stand every loyal man,
So let’s cheer, cheer, the gang’s all here,
And we’re all out for M-W High.
McLean High School definitely offered basketball, baseball, and track for boys. IHSA hardware was earned in these sports. McLean also offered football for a time prior to 1930 (see story below). As McLean-Waynesville-Armington, the school also gave students to participate in wrestling and cross-country. The accomplishments of the athletes from the school are listed below.
McLean HS Basketball – County Champs 1940-41
Final Record 21 – 8
Pictured in Photo Above:
Seated, Left to Right: Charles Graham, Gene Demling, Donald Lynch, Harold Bode, Don Erickson, Byron Canfield, Leo Canfield
Second Row: Coach Lyle Henderson, Verna McGuire, Robert Buck, Jess Garner, Manager Delmar Meyer
McLean High School basketball won three District Titles in its heyday. These years are listed below. With the help of the folks at the Mount Hope-Funks Grove Library in McLean, we have been able to find the win-loss records and coaches’ names from teams, thanks in part to their listing of yearbooks from the school. In some years, we are still in need of finding out more information. If you have that information, please contact us at the addresses listed below.
The boys track team had one great athlete bring home IHSA hardware. His name was Paul McFarland. “Big Mac” brought home 4 medals, including three in 1913. His effort resulted in the McLean High School Track Team placing 4th in this year. Great job and congrats to the McLean thinclads. The finals of 1913 are listed below…what a great accomplishment for the kids of McLean High!
1912 Paul McFarland Discus 2nd Place
1913 Team Finished 4th Overall !!
Individual Placer – 1913
Paul McFarland Discus 2nd Place
Paul McFarland Hammer 2nd Place
Paul McFarland Shot Put 3rd Place
1) Oak Park-River Forest 34
2) Chicago University HS 29
3) Raymond 12
4) McLean 8
4) Ridge Farm 8
6) LaGrange 7
7) Springfield HS 6
7) Roodhouse 6
9) Sullivan, Rock Island, Oregon, Harvey Thornton, & Virginia tied with 4
The school also won the McLean County meet in 1959 under the tutelege of Hank Kaiser, while the 1969 squad of Ron Clausing won the Kickapoo Conference title
McLean High School Legend
Paul McFarland of track and field fame returned to McLean High to coach his beloved Colts. Here is what the McLean Sesquicentennial book of 1955 had to say about Paul McFarland:
“Paul McFarland was coach and principal at McLean High School from 1930-1946 (this may be incorrect as proven by the football photo). While at college at Illinois Wesleyan, he played football, basketball, baseball and threw the hammer (threw out his back). At one point he held the county record for the hammer throw. He started his teaching career in 1917. He spent one year in the service serving in W.W. I. Mr. McFarland excelled in science and math besides being principal and coach. He also had a degree from the University of Illinois. He had a great influence on all his students. He retired from teaching in 1946. He and his wife moved to Seattle, Washington to be closer to their daughter. Mr. McFarland passed away in 1954.”
Great find by Doug Davis!
Mustang Baseball Team – 1952
As you can see in the photo to your right, baseball was definitely a sport at McLean High School. The Colts would play the majority in the fall and were known to pick up a few games in the spring before deciding to switch the sport to spring full-time sometime in the 1960’s.
The Colts of 1952 ended their season at 7-1 finishing in a three-way tie for first place in the Kickapoo Conference! (“Right click” on the photo to enlarge and read a summary of the Colts’ season). Thank you to Doug Davis for contributing the baseball photo to this page!
1939-40 Coach Paul McFarland
1946-47 Coach Ralph Paulson
1948-49 7-3 Coach William Ray
1949-50 6-3 Coach William Ray
1950-51 8-2 Coach William Ray
1951-52 6-3 Coach William Ray
1952-53 8-2 Kickapoo Conf. Co-Chps Coach Max Hungerford
1953-54 4-3 Coach Max Hungerford
*The following information was sent to us by a fan of the former McLean High School, Doug Davis:
“I recently ran across some great photos and information regarding McLean High School. I had the opportunity to view a centennial book put together in 1955 for the 100 year anniversary of McLean. In it were some great photos and historical information about the school and it’s early 1900’s sports teams, including a rare photo of a football squad. I know that as a kid my grandfather had mentioned playing football for McLean in the 1930’s. The story is told that a new principal was hired and did not believe in football and burned all the equipment. The photo that I saw is from 1924 and has a photo of a “MacFarland” who you refer to as a track star during that era. Kenneth Moreland (who was a teacher, coach, and administrator) who I have heard of but do not know compiled the information for the centennial book and he did a fantastic job.”
*These memories were provided by Myrle Coffman, math and science teacher at McLean High School for 2 years (1952-1954):
“Having just heard about your web site, I looked up McLean high school. I was a math and science teacher for 2 years at McLean High School (Fall of 1952-Spring of 1954). Part of your commentary says that they may have had a baseball team. There indeed was a baseball team at McLean High. Pictures of the teams are available in the 1953 and 1954 yearbooks. I have pleasant memories of teaching there.
Myrle L. Coffman “
Need More In-Put
We are requesting further information regarding the high school in McLean. If you can provide any information that you would like to share, please complete a School Submission Form or a Guest Commentary Form. We especially enjoy information and photos of the old school buildings and great teams, players, and coaches of McLean’s storied past. You may also contact us via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or write us at: