KHS History/ Clubs


History of Kewanee High School

Kewanee High School Yearbook History:  The first yearbook the Snapshot was issued on May 23, 1904. In 1927 the KHS enrollment was 478 students and 26 teachers with ten born outside of the United States. Miss Anna Weimer reported that $18.33 as the average cost per student for purchasing material for the sewing class. The yearbook, the Kewanite, earned an All-American rating from the National Scholastic Press Association held at the University of Minnesota in 1929.The Silver Kewanee of 1931 indicated a student body of 700 up from 350 in 1906. The 1956 Kewanite was dedicated to the old Kewanee High School Building, which had been used since 1906.

Homecoming:  A homecoming parade was held by the class of 1935 to honor the unbeaten and untied football team-hopefully the tradition will continue.

The Tiger:  The school newspaper the Tiger was first published in 1910 and dropped as a monthly publication in 1931. The name Keyway Gazette, a mimeographed newssheet appeared in the 1934 Kewanite, a mostly put together affair by students. The present newspaper is the K-Chronicle.

School Song:  On March 23, 1923 the school song was first heard at the Spring Festival sung by a quartette in evening dress. Miss Dorothy McGrath and Mr. Forrest Keller, students of the class of 1923, wrote the KHS song. Miss McGrath wrote the music and Mr. Keller wrote the words. It was originally made for the piano and later arranged for the band by Mr. Bert, a former music director. It was presented to the public at the Spring Festival on March 23, 1923, and adopted as the official KHS School Song at that year’s Commencement. After graduation from Kewanee High School, Dorothy McGrath went on to attend the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago. Upon graduation, she was awarded first prize in the annual competition for graduating piano students. She composed a number of piano pieces for children, which were published as part of a teaching method for students. She worked for the Music Department of the Springfield Missouri Public Schools the University of Miami at Miami, Florida, and the Music Department of Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, until her retirement. She was also a member of the Sigma Alpha Iota National Music Sorority. She died August 24, 1995 at the age of 89. Forrest Keller became a Professor of Economics in the Graduate School of Business Administration at University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. He died in a retirement home in Chicago in 1987. Dorothy McGrath’s family upon her death donated the original manuscript of the school song to Kewanee High School.

Kewanee High School Song

On, ever on, Kewanee High School, 
Let’s put our colors in the sky; 
Thus far they’ve flown without a single blot
So, now it’s up to us to give the game the best We’ve got. 
Tho’ sometimes the score may be against us, 
Let no one say we ever failed to try. 
And always fighting we will show the world
That there’s a real Kewanee High! 
Come on you team; let’s wipe ‘em out, 
On, Kewanee, On! 
They’re out-classed beyond a doubt! 
On, Kewanee, On! 
Let’s fight, that’s right
We’ll raise our triumph shout, by singing; After the fighting is over

We’ll see our colors floating high. 
Real fight will ever keep our flag un stained
And every time we fight it’s just another 
victory gained. 
So we can forget about the scoreboard
When we have made our biggest try, 
You see we’ve always won, for we have shown the world
That there’s a real Kewanee High, Fight!



Early History

History of Kewanee Schools


"Portrait and Biographical Album of Henry County Illinois", 1885


Copied by Linda Lang; Transcribed by Susie Martin-Rott


The first school in Kewanee was in a small frame building, built by George A. Morse and donated by him to educational purposes. It stood just north of the railroad track on Main Street. School was conducted here for nearly two years, when the structure was moved into the town proper, on the lot now the East School, and here used until it was moved again to make room for a better building. This little building was soon wholly inadequate to the town's growth, and the trustees rented rooms over Schrivers store and also of Austin Sykes. These were occupied until 1858. To this time these two commodious rooms it seems were room enough, and the old pioneer school-room, mentioned above, was sold and became the printing-office of the Henry County Dial; it lived through the rough experience of the printer and his "devil" and again was transferred and became the Christian Church, and after faithful service here was again changed and became a private residence. Its varied experience and migrations remind one of "Japhat in search of a father." In 1865 the East School-room becoming wholly inadequate, steps were taken for the enlargement of the building, and the erection of two others. In 1866 the East building was enlarged to double its former capacity, and the two brick structures known as the North and West Schools, were determined upon. They were built in 1867, and first occupied in 1868, each containing two rooms. The schools were thoroughly re-graded in 1866 by Superintendent S. M. Etter, afterwards State Superintendent of Public Schools. Mr. Etter was Principal of the Kewanee school three years, and laid well the foundations of the excellent graded schools that have marked the history of the place. He was followed by Mr. H. W. Russell, who was, with short intervals, for about 11 years in charge of the schools. From Kewanee Mr. Russell went to Chicago, and was for some years in charge of the High School at the Stock yards. He was succeeded by the present Superintendent, Mr. E. C. Rosseter, who is also County Superintendent of Schools.

 The brick buildings were erected at a cost of about $6,000.

 The High School was established in 1856. It grew out of a general desire for a higher grade of education than the village school of those days could give. Kewanee and Wethersfield joined hands in this commendable movement. At first each village struggled to have the school located within its limits. The matter was finally settled by locating it on or near the dividing line between the two towns. James Elliott donated two-and-one half acres of ground for the location, and here the building was erected. For some time only the upper story was completed for school purposes, the lower one being used for lectures, lyceums, and a public hall. Here lectured Horace Greely and John B. Gough, among many others of more or less note. Rev. Waldo was secured as the first Principal of the school assisted by Miss Atwood. The first furnishing was somewhat primitive and rough. Tough pine desks and benches, running half across the room, with three aisles thus formed, is the picture of the school-room as remembered by those who first attended the school. Of those who were school-girls at this opening of the High School we learn, among others, are the following: Laura Pratt (Mrs. Northrop), Lillie Burns (Mrs. Raymond), Nellie Little (Mrs. Geo. Perkins), Libbie Cuttia, Helen and Lucy Lyle, Fanny Lay, Ella Way, Addie Cheany, Lottie Talcott (Mrs. T. P. Pierce).

At that time there were no side-walks by which the children could reach the school, and at time the way was practically impassable. A large wagon was often used to haul the children to and from the school-house.


Mr. Waldo, at the end of his second school-year, resigned, and was succeeded by Mr. Blodgett, who was assisted by Miss Stocking. He determined on having better furniture, and got up an exhibition, and thus raised a fund and re-furnished the room. Mr. McPheran then was in charge, and he was succeeded by Mr. Bradford, and he by Mr. Tabor, who made the first attempt to grade the school. He made the novel and daring experiment of arranging a course of study and had it printed. Mr. Beckington next succeeded, and he was followed by S. M. Etter, and he by Russell, and he by the present Mr. E. C. Rosseter. During Mr. Etter's term he arranged an exhibition, and raised $83 to found a library. it was a small beginning, but it was bravely invested as a start toward a library, until now, through the efforts of friends, the town and the successors of Mr. Etter, a fine library is part of the High School. In Sept., 1870, the town of Kewanee purchased the interest of Wethersfield in the school and has since had entire control. It was mentioned above that Mr. Russell was absent at certain intervals. He served about two years as principal of the schools at Moline, and during this time Mr. Gray was principal one year, and Mr. Carver for a term.

There are now six school building sin the town, and it has been arranged to construct another next year. The High School has five rooms and five teachers; Prof. E. C. Rosseter, J. Williams, Principal of the High School; Anna A. Schriver, Assistant; Mrs. M.H. Keyes, Grammar; Miss Maggie G. Blish, Intermediate. East School: There are three buildings on these grounds. These are to be replaced by one large new building, and the High School is also to be taken down and an elegant, large and commodious building to take its place next year. In the East School the teachers are Miss Jennie Chase, grammar; Miss A.A. Johnson and Miss Anna Scott, intermediate; Miss H. Villa Card and Miss Franc Otis, second department; Miss Escher Loomis and Miss Jennie Halline, primary. The West School is a brick building of two rooms. The teachers are Miss Ida Palmer, secondary; Miss Hattie Maul, primary. The North School: Miss Anna Eack, secondary; Miss Franc Porter, primary. The enrollment is 800; the average attendance, 710. School is taught nine months. Total school expenses, $9,000; of this sum $6,800 is paid teachers; $800 to janitors, and the remainder miscellaneous. Mr. Rosseter has been seven years with the Kewanee school; Miss Johnson has taught thirteen years, Miss Halline, eight years, and Miss Loomis nine years.


More  School  History

Henry County, Illinois

Henry County School History


Kewanee Schools

Submitted by: Kay Hosmer


The first school in Kewanee was taught in a small frame building built by George A. Morse and donated by him for educational purposes. It stood north of the railroad tracks, on Main Street.

 School was held here for a year or two, when the structure was removed father onto town, and placed on the lot then occupied in 1877 by the east school house and later moved to a lot which was later the Parker & Merritt Store. The growth of the town demanding more room, the trustees rented a building of Mr. Austin Stykes, and a room in the upper story of Mr. Schriver's store. These were occupied until about 1858 when the building known as the east School house was erected. This was occupied in the winter of 1858. It contained two commodious rooms, and was ample for the demands at that time. The pioneer school house was sold, and for some time was used as the office of Henry County Dial. Afterwards, removed and used as a Christian Church, and then, as a dwelling. In the year 1865, the East School House had become entirely in inadequate, the building was enlarged and two buildings were erected.


During the vacation of 1866, the east building was enlarged to double it former capacity, and the two brick structures, known as the North and West Schools, were determined upon. They were erected in 1867 and occupied January 1, 1868. Each contained two rooms. The schools were re-graded in 1866 by the Superintendent of Public Instructions. Mr. Etter was principal for about three years and laid the foundations of the grading of the schools which were very successful and carried out by Mr. W. H. Russell, the next superintendent.

The brick building were erected by William C. Loomis, and cost the city about $6,000. In addition to theses, the High School building, erected in 1856, and a one room building were occupied. The latter being named the Northville School.

In 1877 there were 680 pupils enrolled. The average daily attendance for January 1877 was 621. They required the services of 14 teachers, including the superintendent. Their names are as follows:

Mr. W.H. Russell, Superintendent

High School- Mr. E. S. Martin, Principal; Miss Lillian D. Riley, Assistant.

Grammar School- 1st Room, Miss Anna Kellar; 2nd Miss L. A. Searle.

East Building- Intermediate, Miss A. A. Johnson, Miss Alice Barker; 2nd Primary, Miss Lizzie Lewis; 1st Primary, Miss Frank Rockwell.

North Building- 2nd Primary, Miss S. Folsom; 1st Primary, Miss Jennie Halline.

Northville- Miss Mary Bradbury.

The Board of Education consisted of the following named gentlemen; S.T. Miles, President, Adolp Maul, Secretary; W.H. Day, W.W. Stevens, M.H. Hinsdale and Jas. C. Blish.

 The annual aggregate expense of the schools amounted to $10,000, which was abundantly repaid in the elevated tone of society and the good morals attendant upon such an outlay of money at that time.

 The High School was established in 1856. It grew out of the desire for a higher grade of education the villages of Kewanee and Wethersfield, in the endeavor to secure its location in the midst, the matter was settled by locating the building on the dividing line between them. Mr. James Elliot donated two and a half acres for that purpose, and on this site the building was erected.

 Only the upper story was completed and ready for school purposes, the lower being used for lectures, lyceums, and a public hall. Among the prominent persons who lectured there were John B. Gough and Horace Greeley. School was opened under the principalship of Rev. Mr. Waldo, who was assisted by Miss Atwood. At that time the school was furnished with rude pine desks and benches, reaching half across the room, making but three aisles. The oldest pupils occupied the rear row. Among the young ladies were: Lama Pratt (Mrs. Northrop), Lillie Bruns (Mrs. Raymond), Nellie Little, (Mrs. George Perkins), Libbie Cutter, Helen Lyle, Lucy Lay, Ella way, Addie Cheany, Lottie Talcott (Mrs. T. P. Pierce).

 Since there were no sidewalks in the earlier years, it was almost impossible in the winter to get to the school house and a large wagon was the general form of conveyance.

At the close of the second year Mr. Waldo resigned. His successor was Mr. Blodgett, who was assisted by Miss Stocking. During his administration an exhibition was held and from the fund raised the school room was properly furnished.

 Mr. Blodgett was succeeded by Mr. McPheran who was succeeded by Mr. Bradford. Greek and Latin were among the higher studies of the school at this time and the pupils were fitted for college. Mr. James k. Blish, a lawyer of the town, went from this school to Ann Arbor. Mr. E. B. Wright, the Washington Correspondent for a Chicago paper, went from the academy to Chicago University.

Mr. Bradford was succeeded by Mr. Tabor, who first graded the school, and arranged a course of study which he had printed. He was followed by Mr. Beckington, Mr. Etter, and then Mr. Russell.

During Mr. Etter's administration eighty-three dollars had been raised at a school entertainment, for which to purchase books for the library. This fund was increased by Mr. Russell's time in a similar manner. With this fund a library had been purchased.

In September 1870, the town of Kewanee purchased the interest of Wethersfield in the academy, and had entire control. During this interval, Mr. Gray and Mr. Carver acted as principals. Upon the latter's resignation Mr. Russell was again called, and was appointed superintendent of Kawanee Schools. Mr. E. S. Martin in 1875 was appointed principal of the High School and assisted by Miss Lillian D. Riley.

 [Taken from the personal copy of Ira B Keeler's "History of Henry County Illinois, It's taxpayers and Noters" printed in 1877, and transcribed by Kay Hosmer]=


Clubs and Organizations at KHS:

College Night:  On April 24, 1912 the first College Night was held. Schools represented were University of Leipsic, Wabash College, University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Western Illinois State Normal, Grinnel College, Yale University Law School, DePauw University and Lake Forest College. Many of the representatives appeared to have been local residents who graduated from these schools.

Glee Club:  The Glee Club was organized in 1910.

Camera Club:  The first meeting of the Camera Club was held December 16, 1912 in room 13 and consisted of 50 and 60 students. The Kewanee “Kolor Klub” was organized in 1928.

German Club:  The German Club was first organized in 1913.

Drama Club:  The Drama Club was first organized in November 1916.

HI-Y:  March 1, 1921 the membership is open to boys in the upper two classes who subscribe to the four C's, clean living, clean speech, clean scholarship and clean athletics. Mr. Bruner and Mr. Walter Lamb are the advisors.

Red Triangle:  Organized in October 1922 for boys of the two lower classes who will subscribe to the "Declaration of Purpose."

Radio Club:  The Radio Club is formed in 1923.

History Club:  Mr. Rowley organized the History Club on October 2, 1908 with Harrison Batten as President. At the first meeting Randall Parrish gave a talk on Historical Studies, one about William Cullen Bryant and another on Robert Burns. A total of 8 meetings were scheduled for the school year.

Student Council:  Mr. Rinker organized the Student Federation in 1914. A new form of student government is introduced in 1931 by Mr. Robinson, which is made up of homeroom representatives- named, the Student Council.

Tri-Y:  Organized in 1933 and limited to 25 girls. Advisors were Helen Regan and Genevieve Saygh. Ms. Stella Pletkovich was named President in the1935 Kewanite.

Letterman's Club:  First organized in 1939 and again in 1945, the Monogram Club was formed by Stan Sosnouski and advised by Coach Brockman in 1946.

Home Economics Club:  Miss Weimer and Miss Albright organized the Home Economics Club in 1933.

Spanish Club:  Marguerite Dunnell formed this club in 1945.

Future Teachers of America:  This club was formed in 1950-51 and named in honor of Mollie Peterson who spent 50 years teaching in the Kewanee Schools. Ken Middleton was the advisor to the twenty-seven members. Miss Olson changed the name of the Bookwork Club in 1956 to Student Librarians.

Industrial Arts:  Paul McMorris formed the Diversified Occupations Club in the 1950-1951 school year, with 19 boys enrolled in 12 different occupations. John Lappin was elected State President of Industrial Education Clubs in 1961. In 1942 the Industrial Arts Department is offering classes to enable boys to work in defense plants.

Latin Club:  Societies Classical organized October 12, 1926 with Miss Fern Slusher Advisor.

Future Farmers of America:  The November Tiger of 1911 reports Agriculture was started with 3 girls and 13 boys. Fred Cline started in the FFA in 1950 with 30 members meeting twice a month.