Prospect High School

School District: 214

Grade levels: 9-12

Built: 1956-57

Is it still standing? Yes

Is it still a school? Yes

History

Around the turn of the century there was a discussion about the need for a high school in the northwest suburban area. There was a lot of opposition to the founding of a new school, at least in part because much of the community was still agricultural and very conservative and they did not want the government to spend money on education. At the same time, there was also a national discussion about voting rights. Women still did not have the right to vote. Some states, mostly on the east coast, had passed laws either giving women complete or partial voting rights starting in the 1800s. Illinois gave women the right to vote for school board members in 1891 but did not grant them the right to vote for the U.S. President and local offices or referendums until 1913. Even then, women were not allowed to vote for state representatives, congressmen, or the governor and because of this, women had to use separate ballots and separate voting booths. Finally in 1920 the 19th amendment was passed and women were given full voting rights nationally. This all relates to the history of Prospect High because it was in 1914 that an election was held to found a high school district for Wheeling, Elk Grove, and Palatine Townships and because of the change in the Illinois state law in 1913, this was the first election women were allowed to vote in. Because of the women’s vote, the referendum passed. Had only the men’s votes been counted, the referendum would have failed. The conservative people who had opposed the founding of a high school contested the legality of this vote until it was finally upheld in the Illinois Supreme Court in 1922. The School District built Arlington High School on Euclid road, which served the entire region for years.

In early 1950, with an increasing population, a referendum was held to build a second high school in the area. This was again opposed by many of the conservative community members and the referendum failed the first two years it was proposed. By 1956 students were forced to attend Arlington High in shifts and the community finally supported the referendum, although, by then the land prices and constructions cost had risen so quickly that the project cost far more than it would have two years earlier. Construction began immediately and the school open in 1957. The first year the school only served freshmen and they added a new grade level every following year for three years. The school has gone on to have a long legacy, far outlasting Arlington High. The sports teams and bands have won statewide and national acclaim.

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