The History of Chicago Harvard St. George High School
Chicago (population 2.8 million) is located in far northeastern Illinois in the center of Cook County. It goes without saying, but directions or an explanation about this “town’s” history, location, and incredible growth are self-explanatory The city is famous for many different reasons and was a great influence on the growth of the United States in the 1800’s. It is, today, the third largest city in the United States and Illinois’ largest city.
Harvard-St. George High School was the result of the merger between the all-boys Harvard School and the all-girls’ St. George School for Girls, located right near each other in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, close to well-known landmarks such as the Museum of Science and Industry as well as the University of Chicago. Both schools existed as separate entities until the spring of 1962 when the two became united as one.
After a period of adjustment, the schools became as one as the formerly all-caucasian Harvard (which had been declining in enrollment) meshed with a racially-diverse St. George (who had been growing). Under the tutelege of school director Ann Tyskling, HSG grew into a notable independent school within the city during a period of radical change.
Harvard-St. George continued its growth spurt into the 1970’s and continually looked for more space to flourish. In 1979, the school purchased the Harris School on the city’s North Side, and expanded into a two-campus school. Since it served students from pre-school thru high school, the pre-schoolers and high school students were located on the North Side at the former Harris location on Hawthorne Place, while grade school and junior high students remained at the South Side campus on South Ellis Avenue.
But this arrangement only survived two school years when it was decided that it was not feasible to have two locations, so the South Ellis campus became the home of all students at the renamed Harvard, which dropped the “St. George” from their name after the purchase of Harris to keep from confusing people who thought the school had an affiliation to the Catholic Church.
In the end, the school was unable to sustain continuous growth and later ended its’ high school department in 1993. Harvard did keep a grade school after then, but succumbed to financial problems and closed its doors for good in 2003. Today, the building has been turned into a multi-family location.
Chicago Harvard St. George High School Quick Facts
Year opened: 1962
High school closed: 1993
Year closed for good: 2003
School Team Nickname: “Hurricanes”
School Team Colors: Black & Gold
School Fight Song: unavailable
ATHLETICS & EXTRA-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES
Harvard-St. George offered basketball to both boys and girls, and had baseball for the boys. Being a smaller school, it did not offer football like it did when the school was an all-boys’ prep school years before, but one would believe that other sports filled the bill to give students an opportunity to compete in athletics. The same could also be said for other activities, such as yearbook, music, and honorary societies, but we are looking for information about these items.
The Hurricanes competed in the Independent School League with the likes of Francis W. Parker, Chicago Latin, Chicago University, Morgan Park Academy, Glenwood School, Winnetka North Shore Country Day, and Elgin Academy, winning the conference tournament title in 1970-71. Led by star player Darnell Bush, Coach Clarence Harvill’s team scored a 66-61 win over nearby University High in the ISL finals. The Hurricanes also had a good season in 1981-82 when they compiled a 19-6 record for Coach Nick Nishibayashi.
1964-65 14-12 Coach Roger Greene
1970-71 ISL Tournament Champs Coach Clarence Harvill
1981-82 19-6 (good record) Coach Nick Nishibayashi
Harvard-St. George offered this sport for the girls, but we are uncertain about its’ beginnings. One fact we were able to discover from the Illinois High School Association’s website (www.ihsa.org) was Chicago Latin defeated the Lady Hurricanes 117-1 on February 14th, 1978. Unfortunately, this was one of the biggest margins of victory ever in a girls’ prep hoops game in state history.
Harvard-St. George got out on the diamonds of the South Side, and even set a precident in 1974. The Hurricanes became the first school in Chicago to open it’s baseball program to girls, according to articles can be found in the Hyde Park Herald newspaper archives on-line.
Junior Beth Walsh’s decision to join the baseball team raised more than a few eyebrows in the Independent School League as well as the rest of Chicagoland. It even forced the conference to have a special meeting to discuss the issue and as a result, the ISL reversed its stance of only allowing boys on boys teams only.
According to student Bill Dixon, “I was on the team when Beth Walsh, Heidi Lerner, and Jackie Dixon all joined the boys’ baseball team (in 1975)! Our school director, Mrs. Ann Tyskling, was influential in having ladies join the team.
“I believe we went 2-14 that season, (which) did include the first two wins in the schools’ history (over U of C Lab School and St. Michael’s)!!
**From Beth Walsh (class of 1975):
“I attended the school Harvard-St. George from 1968 to 1975 and have many fond memories. Our school mascot was the Hurricanes and our colors were black and gold. In 1971 I believe we won the Independent School league city championship in basketball. The coach was Clarence Harvill, whom I believe played in the ABA league at one time. He was a great man.
**From Valarie Graham (class of 1984):
“I am a 1984 graduate of The Harvard School. I see that your research is largely focused on the earlier years. I wanted to let you know that if you google a woman named Ann Tyskling you can find out a lot about the school’s later years. She was the director as far back as 1968 and by the time I graduated in 1984 was still the director and a benefactor of the school. The Harvard School colors were blue and gold. I kept my cheerleading uniform for many, many years. I can’t for the life of me remember the mascot though. I know we played basketball in the Independent School League. The star basketball player in 83-84 was Pierre Ellis. There is an alumni group on facebook.”
From Joe Anzek (school principal 1983-87, director 1987-89):
“Susan Gibson was principal of the school prior to 1983 and on until 1987 when Mrs. Tyskling (what an amazing school leader) retired, but remained a member of the Board of Directors, along with her daughter Karen, Dorothy Gleaves, Timothy Rand, Lindsey Gorman, etc. Mrs. Gibson became director and I was named principal in 1983.
“I was searching the net and went down memory lane, it landed me at this article about Harvard the school that changed me forever.
“Thanks Sooooo much Ann Tyskling for giving your heart and soul for Harvard and your passion to make a difference in the lives of young girls and boys in the big City of Chicago ILL.
“There were so many caring educated adults who made a difference in my Life while attending Harvard in which I graduated in 1984. I currently give back to our youth of tomorrow by coaching basketball and working with at-risk juveniles. Without Harvard-St. George High School, I would have been a typical inner city kid trying to survive in a urban jungle with no tools for success or progress.”
Twitter address: @PierreEllis1