Senn: Decade by Decade

Nicholas Senn High School
100th Anniversary

The 100-year history of Nicholas Senn High School has been chronicled annually by its students in Forum, the school yearbook that first was published in 1913, the year the newly constructed high school was opened. A member of the Senn Centennial Committee gleaned the historical entries that are shown here by decade. Read them and bask in the knowledge that Senn has been and is a great school, the legacies of its students, faculty and staff treasured. And as you read and reminisce, remember that the past is but the prologue. The best is yet to come!

Happy 100th anniversary, Nicholas Senn High School!


1913 Newly constructed Nicholas Senn High School officially opens in February 1913 at 5900 North Glenwood with enrollment of 710 and faculty of 22
School offers four-year high school curricula, two-year vocational (business) courses and mid-term classes (January, June)
Motto adopted: Look up and not down, look forward and not back, look out and not in, and lend a hand.
Green and white selected as school colors
First issue of Forum, school yearbook, published
Newly constructed Senn building dedicated in May
Lunchroom completed late 1913
Senn Orchestra, first musical ensemble, assembled, followed by Girls and Boys Glee Clubs
Camera Club is first student organization, prelude of many to come.
1914 First commencement class of 14 graduates, one diploma (two-year business program) in February 1914
Senn Library is officially opened to student body with gift of 300 volumes from Chicago Public Library system (VERIFY)
1915 Senn wins city lightweight football championship and city featherweight basketball championship, first of many athletic achievements to come.
Dramatic Club is organized.
First reference to Senn students as Sennites
1916 First edition of Senn News, student newspaper, printed.
1917 Senn R.O.T.C. (Reserve Officers Training Corp) chapter established
First Student Councils organized.
World War I (1914-18):560 alumni, 4 teachers enlisted, 13 alumni killed
1918 Students raise $1,600 to buy, equip, ship ambulance somewhere in France
Student Welfare Commission created
1919 Senn Honor Society established.
16 portables built to accommodate mushrooming student population
1920 Green Book, first of its kind in a Chicago high school, info about Senn (5th 1930, 6th 1936)
All-School Student Council formed with 21 officers
1921 Novel theater-related clubs Players/Workers (stage craft)
1922 Senn Alumni Association organized
First Centurion (Forum and News merged)
Single shift schedule changed to double shift to further accommodate mushrooming student population


1923 Senior Council organizes Freshman Sponsors to foster closer relationship between 4th and 1st year students
1924 Senn Alma Mater song composed
Senior staff day (social function)
Division period to convey freshman council reports to room
1925 ROTC band organized, evolves into Concert Band.
Print shop added to shop instruction
1926 Parent-Teacher Association formed
1927 Punctuality Committee (absence, tardiness)
1928 Administration petitions CTA for longer stops at Thorndale station, city Transportation Department to install stoplights at Broadway and Thorndale
Construction begun on first wing addition
1929 Motion picture machine purchased, students “taxed: five cents each to hire licensed operator
Attendance 4,352, faculty 138
Senn band takes first place in city, state and national competitions
Forum wins All-American Honor Rating national competition
PTA issues first year book for parents, teachers
1930 Alumni Association boasted 4,000 members
Traffic (indoor), No Smoking Committees formed
Fire Drills (building cleared three minutes),
CPS identified 10 Senn feeder schools – Armstrong, Boone, Budlong, Clinton, Goudy, Hayt, Peirce, Stuart, Swift, Trumbull
1931 Student propelled Thanksgiving, Christmas Funds set 18-year record in giving to needy
1932 Senn admitted to National Honor Society
Two-year vocational programs phased out, subjects absorbed in four-year curricula


1933 Senn teachers joined citywide protest marches demanding back pay
1934 Construction of two building wings completed, campus portables removed
Faculty organized Senn Teachers Council
A Capella Choir assembled
1935 Public address system installed in Senn Hall
1936 Junior Red Cross collects $219 for flood relief in the East.
Senn Historical Association founded, immediately assumed mantle of largest club on campus
1937 Student-run charitable efforts continue to benefit needy through Chicago (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Children’s Aid Funds)
1938 Senn observes its silver jubilee
Public Relations Committee created to publicize Senn externally
PTA membership at 576 climbs to record high
1939 Coveted Kraft Cup awarded to Fencing Club
Bulldog adopted as school mascot, bullpups, bullfrogs to follow (freshman/sophomore teams)
1940 World Affairs, Vox Pop and International Relations Clubs formed to discuss global trends and crises, spawned by state of the world
1941 Senn awards diplomas to 610 seniors, largest Senn graduating class to date
1942 War effort launched, Junior Red Cross organized, students collect $1,500 to purchase ambulance for “over there”


1943 War Bond, Scrap Metal and Stamp Drives launched, continue through 1945, end of World War II
56 Senn alumni killed in action
1944 With City Council approval, Senn acquired land west of school
Green and White Club formed to better student relations
First Teachers Handbook published
1945 Senn Conservatory opened
Girls allowed to participate in Military Corps (R.O.T.C.)
Browsers (reading club)
1946 All School Council divided into four separate councils
1947 Senn loyalty song (see 1949 Forum for lyrics)
Chess and Checkers Club
1948 Senn News elected to national Quill and Scroll Society, honorary journalism organization
GED (Genera Education Development) implemented
1949 PTA launched initiative to convert vacant property west of Senn to a park
1950 Key Club to improve school and foster community projects formed with backing of Kiwanis organization.
Friday night social dances begun, draw average 700 students
1951 Teen-age Problems Club
Leaders Council formed to advise Student Councils
1952 Student Service workers (Attendance Office absentees, tardies)
Administration develops publicity strategies


1953 Survey establishes that 60 percent students go to college
1954 Tricks and Trumps Club for senior girls only
Drivers Safety Club
Key Club named outstanding in country, four years after establishment
1955 Senn is awarded citywide Bellamy Flag for student academic and faculty achievements.
PTA membership climbed to over 2,640 parents and 100 percent faculty, record highs
All-school elections held (all students elected officers to lead entire school)
Sound-proofed practice room for orchestra completed
1956 Architectural drawing added to shops
College matriculation climbs to 75 percent
Senn offered Advanced Placement courses, first Chicago high school to do so
1957 Senn PTA largest in state
Community service group consolidates all giving activities
1958 Student body numbered 3,400
PTA 3,132 members
Riding Club, Senn Equestrians
1959 Junior varsity baseball team formed, first in Senn history
After-school Recreation Center opened
1960 Business courses expanded, now include stenography, bookkeeping, office practice, business law, salesmanship, economics, basic business, typewriting
1961 Music appreciation added to curricula.
Spanish Club translated children’s books, sent to poor communities in Mexico
Boys gymnasium dedicated to Albert Shaffner, baseball, basketball, fencing coach for 47 years
1962 Senn established teaching alliance with Art Institute of Chicago
Sennaids service projects merged Senior Girls and Senior Hostesses
Office Occupation Plan half day school, half day various businesses
Work began on Senn Park west of school, Greenview Avenue is removed between Thorndale and Ridge


1963 Senn observed its golden jubilee
School offered five sets of classes – advanced placement, honor, regular, essential and basic
Guidance office restructured staffed with six specialists (psychologist, teacher-nurse, truant officer, speech teacher, bed-side teacher)
Urban program added to core curricula for migrants; Americanization class offered in English, prelude to Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
Senn Literary Journal published
1964 Medical Careers Club
Science Club yielded to Astro-Bio-Chemo-Physics Club
1965 Student Administrative, Library, Office Aides assisted in those respective non-academic departments
Latin-American Club
1966 Daily bulletins issued to all students, upcoming activities, meetings.
Great Books Club formed to discuss world classics
Continental newspaper established, featured contributions from four foreign language courses (French, German, Latin and Spanish)
1967 First computer classes offered
Senn’s skating team won first city sports title since 1937
January mid-term biennial commencements discontinued
1968 School-wide exterior refurbishment completed
Executive Student Council, new system of student government, instituted
1969 TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) program established, first of its kind in CPS system
In wake of Democrat Convention confrontations and black student boycotts, Afro-American Club created
CBOE established Afro-American History courses
Work-Study programs expanded
Female students allowed to wear slacks – first time in 56-year history of school
Student Council held school-wide “sound off” sessions
Future Homemakers of America, Health Careers and Allied Fields Clubs
1970 Body of 70 formed to address racial tensions and limited student voice in school matters of import
Model Cities program implemented
Black Arts workshop
Israeli and Cycle (motor) Clubs
1971 Senn is one of four high schools chosen to participate in CBOE’s year-round experiment
Girls admitted to 21-year-old Key Club
SAVE (Students Against Violating Our Environment)
Little Big Horn, Senn off-campus outpost for native Americans, is opened.
Boys soccer team formed
1972 Club Day, tool to recruit students for those extracurricular activities
Orchesis (modern dance), Asian American, Chinese Clubs
Hostel Club
First Arbor Day held


1973 First International Festival staged; tradition continues annually
Reading Laboratory
Senn Beautification
EMH Department (Educable Yet Mentally Handicapped) established
Indian Center (native American)
Prep Center (Senn introductory for 8th graders)
Pom Pom girls organized to perform at sports events
1974 PTSA (Parent Teacher Student Association) organized
TACT (Teacher’s Aide Cooperative Training) program launched to introduce teaching process to grammar school students, only one of its kind in Chicago and suburbs
Modeling Club, Pep Club, Senn Publicity Club
New lighting system completed
Library modernized, physical appearance revamped
1975 Bilingual Program established for Chinese, Korean, Spanish students
Sennorama, school-wide classroom demos in fine arts and vocational studies
1976 Massive interior rehabilitation, major exterior repairs completed
English curricula expanded, includes creative writing and African American literature
Latin American studies new program
Latin American Club
Garden Club, Tutoring Club
Reading Laboratory
Multilingual Department, most diverse group of nationalities in city
Filipino Club, Assyrian Club, Korean Club
Star Trek Club
1977 Coeducation physical education program mandated
Assyrian added to bilingual curricula
Aspira Club (Latin)
Full-time dentist available to all students
1978 Time Magazine identifies Senn as most highly integrated public school in Nation
Armenian Club
1979 Blizzard paralyzes city, schools closed for one week
Parking lot created west of campus
77 percent of seniors admitted to college
Donkey basketball added to sports teams
Senn Library Journal
Vietnamese Club
1980 Senn, with students representing 70 countries and speaking 46 languages, included in Guiness Book of Records for being most diverse high school in United States
To counteract parent apathy, Open House, forerunner of Report Card Pick-Up Day, instituted
Access to Excellence implemented, included Senn’s bilingual, advanced placement, computer and accelerated arts and sciences programs
11-day teachers strike
1981 Immunization shots mandated
National PTA bans soft drinks, Twinkies from school lunch rooms
1982 Senn honor guard created to carry colors and perform at all public events
Student Council recommended wearing ID’s


1983 Hispanic Honorary Society
Public Relations Club
ALL sports teams make it to playoffs
16-day teachers strike
1984 Name changed to Senn Metropolitan Academy of Liberal Arts and Technology; curricula features wide range of technical courses
Uniform disciplinary code adopted
Independent study
First annual Green and White Honors award (perfect attendance, honor roll, extracurricular activities, scholastic achievement)
Career Center for Business Computer Systems
Computer Club
1985 Senn Pride Day instituted, featured interior and exterior improvement projects
New computer laboratories
Indian Pakistan Club
Roller Skating Club
1986 70% college matriculation
Lunchroom renovations completed
Cartoon Club
1987 Senn switched to closed campus
Enrollment soars to 2,700; discipline policies tightened
Aware Club (teen problems)
Youth Advisory Council
10-day teachers strike
1988 Senn observed its 75th jubilee
19-day teachers strike
1989 School Reform Act passed by Illinois legislature
First 12-member Senn Local School Council elected (six parents, two teachers, two community residents, one student, school principal)
Computerized writing laboratory
Academic Olympics
1990 Peer tutoring
All Senn procedures, processes, including nearly 22,000 volumes in library, completely computerized
1991 Major interior rehab of all classrooms completed
1992 Newsweek: Senn is one of most culturally diverse high schools in country


1993 CBOE threatened to end sports, extracurricular activities; businesses, individuals contribute over $1 million to salvage season
Boys allowed to join cheer-leading squads
New attendance system installed, featured individual student bar-coded cards
New chemistry labs
Transportation Technology Institute established, auto tech expanded aviation, other forms of travel
1994 New 50-minute scheduled for 1-7 periods
Metal detectors installed
New swimming pool
Tereca Woods first female football player in Senn history
Gospel choir
Open House changed to Report Card Pick-Up Day
1995 Drug free annual parade
Ethnic History Club
Girls soccer team
New pool
1996 Multilingual student newspaper
1997 47 countries, 52 nationalities
Al-Salaam, Multicultural Clubs
CPS cited low reading test scores, placed Senn on probation
Service Learning program (volunteer community service)
1998 Lincoln statue dedicated in Senn Park
Mayor Daley’s Book Club, then expanded to all high schools
1999 International Baccalaureate program, offering challenging college preparatory courses, is authorized.
Principal’s Student Advisory Board
Senn formed alliance with Chicago Police/Firefighter Training Academy for careers in public safety
2000 Senn won U.S. Chess Federation K-12 scholastic chess team championship, 1st in school’s history
2001 All windows, lawn sprinkler system replaced
2002 Illinois Service Learning Leader school, 1 of only 5 in Chicago
Newcomer Center (transition program)


2004 Senn Achievement Academy established for 8th graders who haven’t met promotion criteria for high school
2005 Students protest naval academy.  Hyman Rickover Naval Academy, fourth military school in the CPS system, is dedicated and occupies west wing of the school.
Senn debate team
Gay Straight alliance formed
Student Health Clinic opened on campus
2006 60 countries, 40 languages
Senn Strategic Plan Committee mobilized to chart school’s course for the 20th century, four subcommittees formed (curriculum, safety/security, positive learning environment, outreach)
Faculty spawned School Spirit Day (green polo shirts)
Akhinsa (peace, unity, nonviolence), make difference local, national, global communities
2007 Building With Books service projects, including travel to impoverished countries, Mali school house
Rugby team added to athletic programs
New computer labs installed
New athletic field built on west campus
LSC unanimously approved Senn Strategic Plan
2008 IB program expanded
Green initiative with community gardens established
2009 AP offerings tripled
2010 AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) college preparatory program certified for third consecutive year, serving as statewide model
IB program expanded again
New state-of-art science labs installed
Senn Hall totally renovated at cost of $4.6 million
New HVAC system installed at cost of $10 million
2011 CBOE approved Senn magnet fine arts program
2012 Senn Centennial celebrations begin
Honorary street signs (Senn Centennial Way 2013) designated on four corners of school periphery
Senn Centennial banners posted throughout Edgewater community


2013 Edgewater Historical Society mounts exhibit on Senn’s 100 years
Senn Centennial climaxes with gala celebration at Navy Pier Saturday, Oct. 5

–prepared by Marilyn (Lynn) Pierce, 2012