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Peoria High School: A History

The stately old building located at 1615 N. North Street in Peoria, Illinois, has been the home of what is now known as Peoria High School since 1916. But the school’s rich history began long before that. Established in 1856—six years before the outbreak of the Civil War—Peoria High has expanded, moved multiple times and weathered controversy to become the oldest continuously operating public high school in the state of Illinois.

The WTVP Original Production, Peoria High School: A History, follows the story of this fine institution from its founding to modern day, revealing more than a history of a single school, but a look back at a growing Peoria during the turn of the century, the cataclysmic world events that touched the lives of students, and the common experiences connecting each graduating class to the next.

It is also the story of the people and accomplishments of Peoria High. Through research and their own words, the film introduces influential personalities such as Jacob Gale, the judge who was also a School Superintendent in the early years, Edward Hine, namesake of today’s Hines School, and Julia Proctor White, who started the school paper, “The High School Opinion,” as well contemporary notables Betty Friedan and Bob Michel. And as the first school to win Illinois’ state basketball championship, track championship, and golf championship, Peoria High also boasts names that headlined the sports pages of their day such as Johnny Zinser, Dick Moody, and Clarence Hinton.

Through World Wars, social change, and more than 100 years of fads and fashions, in the end, Peoria High School: A History is the story of us.


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