The History of Holy Child High School
Waukegan (population: 87,901) is located in far northeastern Illinois in east-central Lake County. The Illinois Routes of 21, 41, 43, 131, 132, and 137 all lead you to and from Waukegan. Lake Michigan serves as the eastern border of Waukegan. The Chicago & Northwestern Railroad and the Elgin, Joliet, & Eastern Railroad both travel through the east side of town. Interstate Highway 94 runs by the west side of town. Waukegan sits just 8 miles south of the Wisconsin / Illinois border.
A nice history of Waukegan’s early days can be found at the web addresses of (Wikipedia) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waukegan,_Illinois#History and (Waukegan Historical Society) http://www.waukeganweb.net/waukeganhistory.html. Both sites state the following:
“Waukegan, first visited by Pere Marquette in 1673, is one of the oldest communities in Illinois. The city started as a French trading post and Potawatomi Indian settlement known as “Little Fort”. Records dating back to 1829 tell of a treaty signed by the Potawatomis in which they ceded all of their land in this area to the Federal Government.
Little Fort became the County Seat of Government in 1841 by virture of its population, replacing Libertyville. Between 1844 and 1846, the town’s population grew from 150 to 750 people. In 1849 when the town was incorporated, the population had risen to 2,500.
Proud of the growth of their community and no longer wanting to be characterized as “little”, on March 31, 1849 the residents of Little Fort changed the name of their town to Waukegan, the Potawatomi word for “fort” or “trading post”.”
Holy Child High School opened its doors in 1910 as Little Academy of the Holy Child in Chicago (according to records of closed schools in the Archdiocese of Chicago), taking both boys and girls. For some unexplained reason, the school closed in 1912, only to reopen in 1914 as Convent of the Holy Child for girls only. During that same period, it was also referred to Academy of the Holy Child.
Then in 1921, the school moved to Waukegan & the name was shortened to Holy Child High School, while accepting female students only (28 all told). The Sisters from the Society of the Holy Child Jesus (SHCJ) were in control of the school, which was located in two homes along Lake Michigan on Sheridan Road. It also admitted boarding and day students. The first graduating class received their diplomas in 1924 when six students graduated from Holy Child. A new building was ready for use in 1926, but a fire destroyed one of the homes that served as living quarters in 1930. Another building took its place a year later (dedicated in 1932) that included a convent, dormitory, gym, and auditorium, while the remaining house was torn down due to being unsafe.
Boarders were no longer accepted after 1956 in order to free up space for more classrooms, plus another building was erected the following year with classrooms, labs, cafeteria, and choral room added to the school. The move paid off for the school when it reached its enrollment pinnicle of 423 students in the fall of 1962. After that, the school’s numbers steadily declined in part due to the opening of Carmel High School for Girls in nearby Mundelein in 1963. By the fall of 1967, Holy Child had 225 students, but gained slightly when the school celebrated its 50th anniversary in Waukegan in 1971 at 235.
During the early 1970’s, the national board of SHCJ decided to do a study of the schools that were operated by their community (including Holy Child), and because of a lack of teachers from within the community, competition with Mundelein Carmel for students, operating expenses, and low enrollment, it was announced that Holy Child would close in the spring of 1976 following graduation. Civic leaders and parents of students protested and appealed to the community to reconsider its decision, but even after attempting to find another order to take over the school, plus attempting to raise funds, SHCJ stood pat and closed the doors after 34 students received their diplomas on June 2, 1976. The school was sold to the Waukegan Public School District after it closed for use as an administrative center.
FACTS ABOUT HOLY CHILD HIGH SCHOOL
Opened as Little Academy of the Holy Child in Chicago: 1910
Closed down: 1912
Reopened and renamed Convent of the Holy Child: 1914
Moved to Waukegan & renamed Holy Child High School: 1921
Year closed: 1976
School colors: Navy Blue & White
School nickname: “HC”
Provided by Mary Tewhey (verse 1) and Lee (Kraft) Euler (verse 2):
Deep in the heart of every girl,
There’s a love that she has for her school.
Our voices high, our hopes shall not die,
ACTIONS not words is our rule
Raise your voices, proudly say
There’s a school that shall ne’er be defiled.
Although in time our ways may part,
We’ll be true to Holy Child
Here’s to the girls
Whose voices proclaim
A love of their school and their King
Our aims are high
Our hopes shall not die
Our song shall constantly ring