100th Anniversary Senntennial History


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.  Lynn Pierce & Ron Kesselring of the Senn Senntennial 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!


Newly constructed Nicholas Senn High School officially opens in February 1913 at 5900 North Glenwood with enrollment of 710 and faculty of 22.

School named after famed surgeon, scientist, author, professor of surgery and surgeon general of the U.S. Army Dr. Nicholas Senn

Benjamin F. Buck is Senn’s 1st Principal

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.

The front campus was used for all sports practices including the band and ROTC.


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.

Senn wins city lightweight football championship and city

Feather weight basketball championship, first of many athletic

achievements to come.

A Sennite killed in action! Kerlin Lehman killed died for the cause of democracy. WWI.

First reference to Senn students as Sennites.

First edition of Senn News, student newspaper, printed.

Senn R.O.T.C. (Reserve Officers Training Corp) chapter established

First Student Councils organized.

16 portables built to accommodate mushrooming student population.

All-School Student Council formed with 21 officers.

Senn Alumni Association organized


Senn Alma Mater song composed

ROTC band organized, evolves into Concert Band

Parent-Teacher Association formed.

The Senn Cheerleaders started as early back as 1925 with only male cheerleaders.

New amplifying system installed in Senn Hall.

Administration petitions Chicago Rapid Transit Company for longer boarding/unboarding stops at Thorndale station, City Transportation Department to install stoplights at Broadway and Thorndale.

Construction begun {1931} on first wing addition (North & South)

Construction begun {1932} on the boys {large} gymnasium.

Senn band takes first place in city, state and national competitions

Principal Benjamin F. Buck is promoted {1928} to superintendent of CPS

2nd Principal David M. Davidson {1928} steps up to the helm

Forum wins All-American Honor Rating national competition

CPS identifies 10 Senn feeder schools -- Armstrong, Boone,

Budlong, Clinton, Goudy, Hayt, Peirce, Stuart, Swift, Trumbull.

Student propelled Thanksgiving, Christmas Funds set record

in giving to the needy.

Senn admitted to National Honor Society.

Two-year vocational programs phased out, subjects absorbed in

Four-year curricula.


Senn teachers joined citywide protest marches demanding back pay

Construction of two building wings completed, campus portables removed 

The Senn Majorettes or Batonneers had started on or around 1938, wearing their elaborate costumes and dazzling many.

On or about 1943 the Senn Cheerleaders had consisted of both male and females for that all time cheer including bringing out the actual bulldog to games.

Faculty organizes Senn Teachers Council

Senn Historical Association founded, immediately assumed mantle
of largest club on campus.

Senn observes its silver jubilee. {1938}

Senn Times celebrates its 20th year of printing

Public Relations Committee created to publicize Senn externally

Coveted Kraft Cup awarded to Fencing Club

594 students named to Senn Honor Society

Bulldog adopted as school mascot, Bullpups, Bullfrogs to follow
            (Freshman/Sophomore teams).

World Affairs, Vox Pop and International Relations Clubs formed to
            discuss global trends and crises, spawned by state of the world.

1st Principal Benjamin Buck dies.

War effort launched, Junior Red Cross organized, students collect
            $1,500 to purchase ambulance for “over there”.


War Bond, Scrap Metal and Stamp Drives begun, continue

          through 1945, end of World War II

Military Police patrol Senn corridors

Senn ROTC ranks 2nd in city

With City Council approval, Senn acquired land west of school

Green and White Club formed to better student relations

Girls allowed to participate in Military Corps (R.O.T.C.)

All School Council divided into four separate councils

Senn Loyalty Song composed

Senn News elected to national Quill and Scroll Society, honorary

          journalism organization

GED (General Education Development) program implemented

Principal David M. Davidson steps down (1948)

3rd Principal William G. Wilson takes over (1948)

PTA launches initiative to convert vacant property west of Senn to a park, (now known as Senn Park).

Key Club to improve school and foster community projects formed

          with backing of Kiwanis organization

Principal William G. Wilson left Senn High School to his new appointment, the Elementary District Superintendent of District Eight. (1951)

4th Principal Harry Carr now leads the school to greatness. (1951)


Senn Key Club named outstanding in country, four years after its establishment.

Senn is awarded citywide Bellamy Flag for student academic and

faculty achievements.

All-school elections held (student body elects officers to lead entire


Senn offers Advanced Placement courses, the first Chicago High

School to do so.

Junior varsity baseball team formed, first in Senn history.

Principal Harry Carr moves on (1956) to his new assignment at Austin High

5th Principal Samuel Nowinson takes on Senn’s top job. (1956)

Senn Majorettes on or about 1956 and had taken 1st place in the Nationals. They performed at assemblies, parades, festivals, and street fares.

After-school Recreation Center opened.

Spanish Club translated children’s books, sent to poor communities in Mexico.

Sound proofed practice room for orchestra completed.

Boys gymnasium dedicated to Albert Shaffner, baseball, basketball,

fencing coach for 47 years.

Sennaids service projects merged Senior Girls and Senior Hostesses.

Principal Samuel Nowinson went on (1959) to the promoted position of Superintendent of District 17.

6th Principal Dr. John F. Erzinger, a Senn alumnus himself is welcomed (1959).

Work began on Senn Park west of school, Greenview Avenue is

removed between Thorndale and Ridge.

Principal Dr. John F. Erzinger had left Senn (1960) and went to be the Superintendant of District 13.

7th Principal Dr. Benedict Amar takes over (1960).

1963 to 1972

Senn observes its golden jubilee (1963).

First computer classes offered.

January mid-term biennial commencements discontinued.

Principal Dr. Benedict Amar moves on (1965).

8th Principal Thomas F. Coffey brings new leadership to Senn (1965).

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 establishes Afro-American History courses.

Body of 70 formed to address racial tensions and limited student voice in school matters of import.

Senn is one of four high schools chosen to participate in CBOE’s year-round experiment.

Girls admitted to 21-year-old Key Club.

Principal Thomas F. Coffey moves on (1971).

9th Principal John T. Martin moves up from vice-principal after being voted in by the LSC (1971).

Little Big Horn, Senn’s school within a school for Native Americans, is opened.

1973 to 1982

Racial riots throughout the school had created more police presence.

First International Festival staged; tradition continues annually.

Pom Pon girls organized to perform at sports events and to be named the Sennsationals.

PTSA (Parent Teacher Student Association) formed.

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”.

Bilingual Program established for Chinese, Korean, Spanish students.

Parking lot created west of campus separating Senn High School and Senn Park

Donkey basketball added to sports teams.

Senn, with students representing 70 countries and speaking 46 languages, included in the Guiness Book of Records for being most diverse high school in United States with more nationalities than the United Nations.

Senn participates in events marking United States Bicentennial.

The Pep Club started in the early 1980’s and they gave additional cheer and pep to all games and rallies.

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.

Senn Honor Guard created to carry colors and perform at public events. The honor guard not only carried the nation’s flag but now new Senn High School flags as well bearing the bulldog and the school colors.

1983 to 1992

“ALL sports teams” make it to playoffs.

Name changed to Senn Metropolitan Academy of Liberal Arts and

Technology; curricula features wide range of technical courses.

Uniform disciplinary code adopted.

First annual Green and White Honors award (perfect attendance,

honor roll, extracurricular activities, scholastic achievement).

Senn Pride Day instituted, featured interior and exterior improvement projects.

Lunchroom renovations completed.

Senn switches to closed campus.

Senn observes its 75th jubilee 1988.

School Reform Act passed by Illinois legislature.

First 12-member Senn Local School Council (LSC) elected (six parents, two teachers, two community residents, one student, and school principal).

All Senn procedures, processes, including nearly 22,000

volumes in library, completely computerized.

Major interior rehab of all classrooms completed.

Principal John T. Martin retires leaving his mark after 25 years in total at Senn.

10th Principal Christine Clayton becomes the 1st woman and

1st African-American principal at Senn.

1993 to 2002

CBOE threatened to end sports, extracurricular activities,

businesses, individuals contribute over $1 million to salvage season.

Boys allowed in joining cheerleading squads.

*(Boys originally led the squads in 1925).

New attendance system installed, features individual student bar-coded cards.

Tereca Woods is first female football player in Senn history.

Open House changed to Report Card Pick-Up Day.

Citing low reading test scores, CPS places Senn on probation.

Principal Christine Clayton steps down.

11th Principal Judith R. Hernandez like her predecessor Christine Clayton had also worked at Senn High School for a great number of years as a teacher and a school councilor and is the 2nd woman to become principal and the school's 1st Hispanic.

Lincoln statue dedicated in Senn Park.

International Baccalaureate program, offering challenging college

preparatory courses, is authorized.

 Principal Judith R. Hernandez retires.

12th Principal Richard S. Norman is directed to Senn with great pride.

Senn forms alliance with Chicago Police/Firefighter Training Academy for careers in public safety.

Senn won U.S. Chess Federation K-12 scholastic chess team

championship, first in school’s history.

All windows, and lawn sprinkler system replaced.

2003 to 2012

Senn Achievement Academy established for 8th graders who haven’t met promotion criteria for high school.

Gay Straight alliance formed.

Student Health Clinic opened on campus.

Senn Strategic Plan Committee mobilized to chart school’s course for 20th century, four subcommittees formed (curriculum, safety/security, positive learning environment, outreach).

New computer labs installed.

New athletic field built on west campus. Astro turf installed.

LSC unanimously approves Senn Strategic Plan.

Green initiative with community gardens established.

AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) college preparatory program certified for third consecutive year, is serving as statewide model.

New state-of-art science labs installed.

The Senn Spirit team now organized is a combination of Cheerleaders and Pom-Pon Girls and started in the late 2008-2009.

Senn Friends Forever Alumni organized and reunited alumni for various multi-class year events; like fund raisers and picnics.

Senn Hall totally renovated at cost of $4.6 million.

Principal Richard S. Norman retires.

Senn Friends Forever Alumni to host Sock Hop Fund Raiser to raise $18,500 for Senn athletic department and football team.

13th. Principal Susan A. Lofton comes to Senn from Steinmetz High School vice-principal job and is given a 4 year contract to lead Senn.

New HVAC system installed at cost of $10 million.

CBOE approves Senn magnet fine arts program.

Senn Friends Forever Alumni web site established and run by the alumni, showing Senn High School’s history, honoring its famed alumni, veterans, principals, sports, and teachers.

Senn centennial planning begins and is adopted as the Senn Senntennial 2013.

New strategic partnership between Senn High School and Loyola University Chicago. This strategic partnership will strengthen Senn’s academic offerings while building on its existing leadership and assets by providing academic support, teacher training, and improved educational opportunities for students.

Honorary street signs (Senn Centennial Way 2013) designated on the four corners of school periphery.


Jessica Velez class of 2014 is the 2nd female to be on the football team in the position of running back.

2013 Senntennial Forum Yearbook featuring a Senntury of history.

Edgewater Historical Society mounts exhibit on Senn’s 100 years.

Senn Senntennial International Festival staged Friday, Oct. 4,

at Nicholas Senn High School with tours and entertainment for the alumni and guests.

Senn Senntennial climaxes with a gala celebration in the Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier Saturday, Oct. 5 2013.

May the Spirit of Dr. Nicholas Senn, Senn High School and the Spirit of the Bulldog always remain with you all in the most positive way and together, we as a group are always Senn Friends Forever.