The History of Thawville High School
Thawville (population 258) is located in far western Iroquois County on Il. Route 54. This places the town approximately 35 miles southwest of Kankakee. The Illinois Central Gulf Railroad runs through the center of the village.
The people of Thawville took great care in educating their children. This storied history of education in Thawville was sent to us by a true Thawville fan Sandy Grohler Kay (Roberts-Thawville grad of 1960) whose parents, Lyle Grohler (1931) and Ruth Lange Grohler (1933) were both graduates of Thawville High School. The information was provided in a book titled “The History of Thawville” which was written in 1932:
“The first school in the community, before there even was any town called Thawville, was located one-half mile north of the cemetery. The first school in Thawville was built in 1876 on the south side of County Road on the west side of John Street. It was torn down in 1912 with the new building finished in 1913.
Beginning in 1901, Thawville graduated students from a two-year high school course. At that time the grade and high schools both occupied the same building. A separate high school district was organized in 1920, and a four-year high school started. The first class graduated in 1921.
In 1920, a movement began for the building of a new high school. The new building was begun in 1929 and completed in the spring of 1930. The high school and its effects were transferred to the new building in March of that year. The new building made possible a more extensive athletic program, so a coach was employed.
Prior to 1930-31 the high school was not accredited. The new building, however, won Thawville a place on the list of accredited schools at the University of Illinois and the roster of recognized four-year high schools of the State Department of Public Instruction.
The high school’s collection of trophies bears witness to its success in athletic competition during the 30’s and 40’s in track, baseball and basketball.”
In 1949, a consolidation effort with Il. Rt. 54 neighbor Roberts took effect which created the Roberts-Thawville School District. The Roberts-Thawville School District (also on the site) then served the two villages from 1949-50 through the 1973-74 school year. According to alumnus Steve Baker, the school facilities enjoyed some growth in the early 1960’s:
“In the spring of 1961 an addition was added to house the 1st thru 5th grades and the old building across the street was closed. This addition allowed for the 1st thru 8th grades to be housed in the combined building. At its peak, there were 275 students attending this facility.” (Steve Baker, class of 1965)
In 1974 Roberts-Thawville High School was deactivated and the students then attended the Ford Central School District, located in Piper City.
Ford Central then eventually deactivated in 1992 & the two towns parted ways, with the Thawville kids now attending school as part of the Gillman Iroquois West School District. The Thawville high school building is still in use today. It serves as the Upper Elementary Attendance center for grades 4 and 5 of the Iroquois West School DIstrict.
Thawville High School Quick Facts
Year opened: 1901
Year 4-yr school opened: 1920
Year closed: 1949
Consolidated to: Roberts-Thawville School District
School nickname: “Red Devils”
School colors: Red & Black
School Fight Song: “Cheer for Dear Old Thawville”
Submitted by Richard Comen, Provided by Paul Curtis Drieske
Stand up and cheer,
*Footnote: The fight song was provided by Richard Comen, who learned while serving in the U.S. Navy in the V-12 Unit with Paul Curtis Drieske. Paul sang the song and Richard learned it well enough to sing along. Richard recalls the song to this day, nearly 72 years later!