Last Saturday the Peoria High Lions football team beat the Morris Redskins and this Saturday, they’ll be playing in their first state championship game since 1988. Hey, the Cubs pulled it off this year, why not the Lions? And in honor of this win, let’s take a little tour of Peoria High School, which, having been in existence since 1856, makes it Peoria’s oldest high school. I’ve been by Peoria High School hundreds if not thousands of times in my life and many of my friends went to high school there, but I’ve never been inside the school. So let’s put on our thinking caps and go take a look in and around Peoria High School!
Peoria High School has been standing tall on this corner since 1856 (**UPDATE: I've recently learned that while the school had been in existence since 1856, this building has been there since 1915 or 1916. It's still a long time!) It’s quite an impressive building and I’m anxious to take a look inside, but first let’s take a stroll around the outside perimeter and take a look around.
Signs and gardens and lions...oh my! And there’s the impressive football field and track in the back of the school area.
Okay, I’ve had enough sunshine for one day, let’s go inside of Peoria High School, “The Pride of the City.”
Our official tour guide for the day is, Brien Dunphy, who’s the Athletic Director here at Peoria High School. It’s great to meet Brien and his office has plenty of artifacts to take a look at and it’s a perfect place to start our tour! Next stop...
The auditorium. This room is really old school elegant and I love the balcony up above.
As we walked down the hallway, Brien told me that all the artwork and murals on the walls have been done by students at the school. Very impressive! Here’s the wrestling room, which is the biggest wrestling room I’ve ever seen and then we took a look at the gym which is nice and very well polished!
The next stop is a room I could spend hours in, it’s the Alumi Room and it’s filled with archival materials from the high school’s past. There’s everything in here from the old logo from the gym wall, to band outfits to programs to diplomas and class pictures from years gone by. These pictures just scratch the surface of the artifacts in this room. Brien told me he thinks that Peoria High is the only school that has an archiving department and I think he’s right.
We next went to the front foyer area of the school and this is a huge room. I love the Mosaic tile lion on the floor in here. That was a gift from the class of 1963. Plaques and awards from the past and present line the perimeter of the top of the walls in here. There’s also a Distinguished Alumni wall and I saw some familiar names including, Betty Friedan, Philip Jose Farmer, Chris Reynolds and the one that I was especially glad to see was George Kottemann! He put braces on my teeth when I was a kid and it was nice to see him make the wall here. There’s lots of others I didn’t have space for, but this is a fun wall to see some memorable people that have graduated from Peoria High School.
The school has won a ton of trophy’s through the years and here’s just a small sampling of them.
Here’s the Athletic Hall Of Fame and there’s the State Championship team from1908! There’s also a slew of well-known athletes that have passed through in here and it was especially nice to see the photo of Shaun Livingston as he’s really given back to the community and he’s been in the news recently.
There’s another fantastic mural as we walk down the hall to the library. I met Teresa in the library and discovered that we both graduated from high school in 1976! She graduated from Academy of Our Lady and I (just barely) graduated from Bergan High School. We wondered if we had been at any of the same parties together back then. I’m not sure as my high school years are a little fuzzy, but it was great to meet Teresa!
Here’s the archival room that I mentioned earlier. Johan Grewel is the PHS Archivist and as you can see, there’s lots of material to sort through in here including, newspaper clippings, old yearbooks and photos. And we’ll end this tour on what hopefully every high school journey ends up with...
A diploma! This one’s from the early 1900’s! Thanks to Brien for a fun and informative tour of Peoria High School! Good luck to the Lions this Saturday and if you can’t make it to the game, you can watch it live right here! We’ll see you all tomorrow!