Story of Our School

In 1873 the citizens of Lake View Township voted to establish a High School. Built on land donated by the Graceland Cemetery Company, Lake View High School was constructed at a cost of $16,000 and opened its doors May 4th, 1874. This original structure could accommodate up to two-hundred students with its six classrooms on the first floor, and an auditorium, principal's office, library, laboratory, and hall on the second. Of the seventy-three students who had passed the 1874 qualifying exam, eight were admitted for high school coursework, and the remaining sixty-five entered a remedial preparatory program.  

Lake View High School has certainly grown over the years. Thousands of students, teachers and staff have passed through these doors since the morning of May 4, 1874 when Lake View opened for the first time to 73 students. In those days, the principal Dr. Augustus F. Nightingale began the day with morning exercises that consisted of a reading from a chapter of the Word of God without note or comment, followed by a hymn and the Lord’s Prayer. Although many races and many forms of belief were represented in the school, Dr. Nightingale reported that there was not a murmur of complaint from any pupil or parent. At the close of these exercises he often indulged on the “amenities of life, the qualities of true citizenship, the need of earnest study, and the importance of college and University training.”

Students were offered a comprehensive curriculum in 1874 that could be completed in three years. Some of the subjects offered were Civil Government, General History, Cicero’s Seven Orations, Virgil’s Aeneid, Horace’s Odes, Epodes and Satires, Homer and Caesar. Math classes consisted of Algebra, Geometry, Plane and Spherical Trigonometry and University Algebra. Among the foreign languages offered were Greek, Latin, German and French and the sciences choices included Physiology, Botany, Chemistry and Zoology. In addition to all of that, students in 1874 took Common English, English Literature, Mental Philosophy, Natural Philosophy, Logic, and Latin Prose Composition. Although some of our current subjects are similar to the subjects of 1874, “morning exercises” are no longer required of Lake View’s 1250 students nor can the curriculum be completed in three years. Lake View’s curriculum has greatly expanded and requires completion of 24 units of credit taken over four years. Lake View also boasts a Math Science and Technology Academy, an International Language and Career Academy, and an AVID Program.

The physical appearance of the building has also changed since 1874. Fire destroyed the entire structure on Friday, the 13th of March 1885. A larger school opened on May 28, 1886. In 1898 a new four-story addition was added. In 1916 a new five-story building was erected and in 1939 another section was added. Lake View High School now covers a full-city block. Over the years growth has been extensive: a beautiful Campus Park was added in 1997 and a state-of-the-art science lab and student health center were added in 1998.

As early as 1882 alumni returned to join the Lake View staff—a tradition that continues today—and in recent years we have seen as many as ten alumni working at Lake View in some capacity. Other alumni have gone on to distinguished careers in other fields: the Rev. George A. Rice, pastor of the Addison Street Community Church is also the President of the Friends of Lake View, Eugene Schulter, former Alderman of the 47th Ward, Lynne Kawamoto is an Associate Judge, Philip Thorek founded Thorek Hospital, Tom Bosley went on to star on TV in Happy Days, and Abe Saperstein founded the Harlem Globetrotters.

Interestingly, Lake View has had 14 principals since 1874 and while the building has changed, the school and community surrounding Lake View have remained committed to providing students with a high-quality education. From Dr. Nightingale to the committed staff of today, Lake View will always emphasize the importance of “earnest study,” “college” and our commitment to developing “true citizens.” As we approach our 141st year of educating students we look forward to continuing the tradition of excellence that is unique among Chicago Public High Schools.