Maine Township High School District 207’s rich history dates back to April of 1901, when residents voted to establish a local high school and issue $15,000 in bonds to construct a building. In October of that same year, the first Board of Education was established and presided over by Dr. C.A. Earle.
Students and teachers moved into the new building, on Thacker/Dempster Street in Des Plaines, in November of 1902, and the school produced its first graduating class – 3 students – in the spring of 1904. By 1908, the school met the accreditation requirements of the North Central Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges. By 1915, enrollment had grown to 181, and a $55,000 addition provided an auditorium, swimming tank and locker rooms.
By the mid-1920s, a growing student population prompted plans for a new building. Land was purchased at Dempster and Potter Road in Park Ridge, a site chosen for its central location and accessibility for residents of both Des Plaines and Park Ridge. Residents approved construction of a $650,000 school, but the market crash of 1929 threatened the planned opening of the new school until Principal Charles Himel convinced the Board of Education and community that the new school should be opened on time (March 1930) because the youth of the township deserved the benefit of education in the contemporary building that was nearing completion. Open on time it did, a state-of-the-art facility known until 1959 as Maine Township High School.
In 1957, facing a projected enrollment of 9,000 by 1965, voters approved the purchase of two additional high school sites. The Board of Education bought farm land at Oakton and Wolf in Des Plaines and additional land at Dee Road and Talcott in Park Ridge.
Maine West High School opened at the Des Plaines site on Sept. 8, 1959, to 2,300 students and 131 teachers. Five years later, on Sept. 8, 1964, Maine South opened at the Park Ridge site and became home to 2,570 students.
The Board of Education built Maine North High School, which opened in November 1970 to 1,200 students from Glenview, Des Plaines and Niles. But the demographic projections that prompted the construction of Maine North did not pan out. An enrollment once projected to reach 3,500 students peaked, instead, at 1,800 in 1976-77, and the Board reluctantly chose to close the school after the 1980-81 school year.
A History of Innovation
Maine Township High Schools have always been n the cutting edge of education. It was true when Maine was probably the only school in Illinois offering telegraphy and automotive repair in 1915. It remains the case today, when 207 is perhaps the only district in the state that has every teacher following a coaching plan, to improve student learning.
All along the way, there have been landmarks. A first yearbook in 1913. The High School Cadet Corp., formed in 1918 to provide basic military training for Maine students. 1922 brought Maine its National Honor Society chapter.
A commitment to Fine Arts emerged early and flourishes to this day. During the 1920s, bands, orchestras and choirs were formed. Today’s students routinely earn state honors and, on occasion, even national recognition.
In 1952, Modern Music Masters, a national honorary society, organized at Maine Township High School in 1952. WMTH-FM took its place among the first high school radio stations the U.S. when it was licensed and went on the air during 1959.
In 2008, Maine 207 became Google’s first elementary and secondary school district Google Apps for Education partner. This led to Maine 207’s introduction of a 1-to-1 computer program in which each student and staff member has their own Chromebook. Based on the use of these tools in innovative ways along with other critical innovations, such as instructional coaching for all staff members, in 2016, Google included Maine 207 as one of 10 high-performing districts around the world.