The History of West Brooklyn High School
West Brooklyn (population 174) is located in far north-central Illinois in the southeastern portion of Lee County. The town was platted in 1872, but not incorporated until 1894. A short write-up on the early history of West Brooklyn can be found at http://www.leecountyhistory.com/lee_county/brooklyn.htm. It is located about 10 miles due north of Mendota on West Brooklyn Road about two miles west of Illinois Route 251. A branch of the Green River flows through town.
The history of the town’s school system is a long one. According to the Illinois Trails website (http://www.iltrails.org/lee/leecitywbrook.html), the first school in the West Brooklyn area was built in 1874. A better, more modern building was built in 1900. West Brooklyn originally offered a two-year course of study for high school students. It is believed around 1931 or 1932 that a third year of high school courses was established. If a student wanted to continue their education, they had their choice between Amboy, Mendota, and Lee Center to gain a four-year diploma. Enrollment was said to be about 10-12 students for all three classes of high school students.
We believe West Brooklyn High School fell victim to the large consolidation effort which swept the state of Illinois in the late 1940’s. The high school was closed in 1948 with students sent over to Compton High School and a year later, that school was absorbed into the Mendota school district. The grade school may have stayed active for a few more years; however it, too, is now closed.
The kids of West Brooklyn today attend school in Mendota. The fate of the West Brooklyn School building is a sad one. It may have been used as a private residence for many years after it closed. Though still standing the building is in extremely poor condition. The photos below were taken by Roberta Van Briesen in 2013.
West Brooklyn High School Quick Facts
Year first school building built: 1874
Year “newer” building built: 1900
Third year of education added: 1931 or 1932
Year School closed: 1948
Consolidated to: Compton, & later Mendota
West Brooklyn HS team nickname: unavailable
WBHS team colors: Purple & Gold
School yearbook: The Brooklynite
School Fight Song: “We’re Loyal to You, Brooklyn High”
(sung to the tune of the University of Illinois fight song)
We’re loyal to you, Brooklyn High,
We’re purple and gold, Brooklyn High,
We know that you stand
For the best in the land
And we know that you’ll win, Brooklyn High,
So dribble that ball, Brooklyn High,
And pass on that ball, Brooklyn High,
For you are our vain protectors,
On boys, for we expect a
Victory from you, Brooklyn High
(thanks to John & Betty Gehant for submitting the words, which were listed in the 1945-46 school yearbook, The Brooklynite)