The History of Norris City High School
Norris City (population 1,057) is located in southeastern Illinois about 30 miles east of Benton and 10 miles southwest of Carmi. Norris City sits quietly in the southwest corner of White County 15 miles west of the Indiana state line. U.S. Route 45 and Illinois Route 1 intersect just south of Norris City. The Conrail and Prairie Trunk Railroads also intersects on Norris City’s south side. A branch of the Bear Creek flows through the north side of town. Norris City is named after early settlers of the area William and Emaline Norris.
The following brief history of Norris City High School was provided to us by David Cantrell:
“In 1926, the Norris City High School District 181 was formed.
On July 1st, 1948, ground was broken for the new Norris City High School building. Ralph Legeman of Evansville, IN designed the facility that included a 450-seat auditorium and a gymnasium with a capacity for 3,500 people. The gym was the first of its kind in southern Illinois. Both the playing floor (70′ x 110′) and nine rows of bleachers were below ground. Spectators entered the building at the top bleacher. The angled roof was supported by steel trusses bent at an angle, at Norris City approximately 30 degrees. Mr. Legeman designed 27 other gymnasiums and licensed 10 more including Evansville’s Roberts Stadium. Eighth through twelfth grades were housed at the new high school building.
In 1949, Norris City Community Unit Number 3 High School created from merger of 19 rural one-room schools with Norris City School System.
In 1953, Omaha High School consolidated into Norris City-Omaha (NCO) Community Unit Number 3 High School.
– 1949 Cardinal Yearbook
– Edward Oliver, Villager’s Voice, May 25, 2016
– Remember Roberts Stadium http://rememberrobertsstadium.blogspot.com/2011/05/legend-of-ralph-legeman.html ”
The new district was named the Norris City-Omaha School District.
The following memories are provided by Alice Ann (Capen) Stephens:
“I graduated from Norris City High School in 1949 after having attended Norris City Elementary downstairs in the same old building. When I attended the lower grades, there were no indoor restrooms, but an outdoor one for the boys & another for the girls. By the 1950 school year the construction on a new separate “Norris City Community Unit High School” was completed & opened across the street from where I lived at the time. I have attached a picture of the old school as it looked in 1949 (see above). The Elementary school was downstairs. The High School was upstairs as well as in the building addition shown at the right side of the picture. The gymnasium was also in this addition. Humbert J Phelps was the Principal of the High School and F E Welch was principal of the Elementary School. The old Grade-High School building, I believe, is now the location of the school in the area for Special Education high school students that are bussed in from a wide area of White County. My brother, Moe Capen, still lives in Norris City and has helped me with much of this information.”
The high school for the new District (Norris City-Omaha) remained in Norris City. This effort lasted until Enfield joined them in 1985 creating the current Norris City-Omaha-Enfield School District.
Norris City High School Quick Facts
Year opened: late 1800s
Year HS District 181 Formed: 1926
Year consolidated: 1953
Consolidated to: Norris City-Omaha High School
Norris City HS team nickname: “Cardinals”
Norris City HS team colors: Red & White
School Fight Song: Norris City Loyalty
Here’s to the Cardinal and the white,
Here’s to our honor and our might,
Here’s to our love of honesty
And my our courage always be.
Here’s to our Alma mater brave,
And May our colors always wave.
To name a victory for Norris City,
Here’s to the Cardinal and the white.