Maine East History

Maine East HS Building
The school known since 1959 as Maine East High School is affectionately known within the district as “Mother Maine” because it of its status as the original Maine Township High School.

The building that is now Maine East High School welcomed its first students in March of 1930, and the story of its opening mirrored the tumult of that period of U.S. history.  By that time, Maine 207 had been operating for 29 years, having formed in April of 1901, when Maine Township residents voted to establish a local high school and issue $15,000 in bonds to construct a building. The first school, located on Thacker/Dempster Street in Des Plaines, produced its first graduating class - 3 students - in November of 1902.

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. That is when Maine West opened, to accommodate a burgeoning enrollment, and the original Maine Township High School became Maine East.

Maine Township High Schools have always been on 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. In 1952, Modern Music Masters, a national honorary society, organized at Maine Township High School in 1952, and today’s Tri-M members take pride in being part of Chapter #1. 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.

This commitment to fine arts enhances students’ work in other academic areas, connects students to a larger world and provides exceptional entertainment to community members through concerts, theatrical productions and related events. 

Throughout the years, students and staff have earned national and state honors for academic and extracurricular excellence. Along the way, Maine East has had opportunities to celebrate state championships, in Constitution contest, video competition, cheerleading, swimming and baseball. 

In recent years, Maine East has earned a spot on the list of the Washington Post’s “Most Challenging Schools” and has also appeared on US News’ list of “Best High Schools” in America and Newsweek’s list of “Schools that beat the odds.” 

Maine East’s Wall of Honor members include ?????
Hillary Rodham Clinton, David Hiller,
  • Maine North High School
  • Frost Academy