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updated: 10/30/2013 7:58 PM

The battle for high school education in Arlington Hts.

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One hundred years ago this year, when Ill. Gov. Edward Dunne signed the Presidential and Municipal Suffrage Act giving women the right to vote in those elections, Illinois became the first state east of the Mississippi to grant suffrage to women in major elections.

The law came just in time for Arlington Heights because the possibility of having a local high school was the major electoral issue.

There were a lot of people freshly come to live in town who thought that it was right and proper for boys to get working on farms at 14 and for girls that age to go into domestic service.

The farmers were looking at their sons and thinking, "farm hands." And later heirs, of course. As they said, "That's how it has always been."

But in 1913 there was another element in town looking for their children to be educated. For them, about the turn of the 20th century classes were established with a Dr. Gross, who taught twice a week in the old Good Templar Hall.

The classes were sponsored by the newly organized University of Chicago, and the students actually received credit toward a college degree. In 1907 a four-year college course was set up in the grammar school. There were two graduates in 1910.

Soon however, the grammar school needed the room taken up by the few high school students so there was a move by the school board to become a school district and build a high school building.

According to Daisy Daniels in "Prairieville, U.S.A.," a "storm of opposition arose, fed by the universal dread of increased taxes. Nevertheless, an election was scheduled to organize a school district."

This was where the women came in. This was the first election in which women were allowed to vote on a proposition involving the expenditure of money. That school district was going to cost everyone money.

Because the Woman Suffrage Act in Illinois had not yet been validated, the votes of men and women had to be counted separately. So we know that it was a fact that the women's 638 yes votes beat out the men's 622 yes votes.

A high school board of education was elected and the process of building the first high school in District 214 began. The school board started spending money: $45.11 for lumber for two outhouses and a coal bin; $2.50 for each blackboard; coal at $9.49 a ton and a coal shovel for five cents. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court invalidated the School Act under which the district was created.

On Dec. 22, 1921, that ruling was reversed, and it was finally declared that Arlington Heights High School District 214 was valid and established. The school board quickly bought 10 acres on Euclid Avenue between Walnut and Ridge streets from the Lutheran Old People's Home and broke ground.

In only five years the first addition would be needed.

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