Tolono High School

Tolono High School – 1911
A building with trees in front of it

Description automatically generated with medium confidence – Champaign County, Il.

The History of Tolono High School

Tolono (population 2,700) is located in east-central Illinois about seven miles south of Champaign.  Tolono sits in the south-central portion of Champaign County on U.S. Route 45.  Two railroad lines cross in the heart of Tolono, the Illinois Central Gulf and the Norfolk & Western.  The Hackett Branch Creek flows through the southside of town.

According to the web address the first settlement of Tolono Township in Champaign County was established in 1848.  The first school in this township was built in 1863.  The town of Tolono developed quickly after the Illnois Central Railroad built a line through town.  More on Tolono and its particulars can be read at the web address of .

We believe the residents of Tolono likely had a high school established by the late 1800s, though we currently cannot verify this.  Tolono High School served the residents and students of the town on a solo basis for at least five decades.  The late 1940s saw an immense consolidation push for the smaller school districts of Illinois.  Several towns and school districts south of Champaign, including the “Glory Days” high schools of SadorusPesotumPhilo, and Sidney, discussed the possibility of consolidating during this time.  This effort was realized in either 1949 or 1950 with the creation of the Unity School District.

The high school for the newly created district was located in Tolono.  Unity High School maintains a Tolono address to this day.

Tolono High School Quick Facts

Year opened:                              late 1800s

Year consolidated:                    1949 or 1950

Consolidated to:                        Unity School District (Tolono)

Tolono HS team nickname:     unavailable

Tolono HS team colors:            unavailable

School Fight Song:                     unavailable


Tolono High School definitely offered the boys sports of baskeball, football, and track.  It is probable that baseball was offered as well.  Tolono High School team nickname, team colors, school fight song, team records, and coach’s names are all items we would like to share on this page.

Boys Track & Field

The Tolono High School tracksters had two boys win medals at the IHSA State Track Meet.  One of those athletes, John “Rocky” Ryan, won the State Championship in the pole vault resulting in a TENTH place overall finish for his team in 1949!

1936-37      Individual Medalist

                      Paul Meharry                 Discus             5TH Place


1948-49      Team Finished TENTH in STATE MEET Competition!!

                      Individual Medalist

                      John “Rocky” Ryan      Pole Vault       STATE CHAMPION!!

Final Team Standings

1)  LaGrange (Lyons)                          26 7/10

2)  Oak Park (O.P.-River Forest)        21

3)  Hinsdale (Twp.)                              14

4)  Chicago (Phillips)                          10

5)  Chicago (Hyde Park)                       9

Collinsville                                         9

7)  Benton                                                8

8)  Peoria (Manual)                                7

9)  Evanston (Twp.)                                6

10)  TOLONO HIGH SCHOOL                 5 

Buffalo (Tri-City)                                5

Chicago (DuSable)                          5

Belleville (Twp.)                                5

Boys Basketball

The Tolono basketball program won a total of three District titles.  Two of these titles were won when the District was inclusive of the bigger schools in the area.  Unfortunately the team records and coaches names of these and other great Tolono teams are not currently available.

1930-31                District Champions
1931-32                District Champions
1947-48                District Champions


Football appears to have been THEE sport at Tolono.  Setting the stage for today’s successful program at Unity was the Tolono High School gridders of the 1940s.  Tolono High finished its last five football seasons as a solo school with a 47 – 0 record!!  The incredible run by the THS boys is listed below.

1942-43       4  – 2                                                       Coach Leo Stine

1944-45       5  – 1 – 1                                                  Coach Dave Adams

1945-46     10  – 0                                                       Coach Dave Adams
1946-47       9  – 0                                                        Coach Dave Adams
1947-48     11 –  0                                                        Coach Dave Adams
1948-49     10 –  0                                                        Coach Guy Gardner
1949-50       7 –  0                                                        Coach Howard Barnes


The Tolono football program went an incredible 56 – 3 – 1 during this seven year span, an unbelievable .942 winning percentage!!

Seeking Your In-Put

If you have any further information you can offer regarding the town of Tolono and its former “solo” high school please complete a School Submission or Guest Commentary Form.  We are especially interested in a photo of the school building, gym, or championship teams.  You can also e-mail us at or write to us at:

Illinois HS Glory Days

6439 N. Neva St.

Chicago, Il.   60631

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