Maine East High School

Maine East High School
2601 West Dempster Street


United States
Coordinates42°02′17″N 87°51′29″W / 42.038°N 87.858°W / 42.038; -87.858
School typePublic, secondary
Established1902; 122 years ago (1902)
School districtMaine Township High School District 207
NCES District ID1724090[1]
SuperintendentDr. Ken Wallace[2]
NCES School ID172409005030[1]
PrincipalDr. Melissa Pikul[3]
Teaching staff125.73 (FTE)[1]
Enrollment1,853 (2019–20)[4]
Average class size20
Student to teacher ratio14.74[1]
Campus size0.08 sq miles
Area48.21 acres
Campus typeSuburban[1]
Color(s)Royal blue
SloganRespectful, Responsible, Ready
SongAlma Mater
Athletics conferenceCentral Suburban League[5]
NicknameBlue Demons[6]
TV/radio stationWMTH

Maine East High School, or Maine East, and officially Maine Township High School East, is a public four-year high school located at the corner of Dempster Street and Potter Road in Park Ridge, Illinois, a northwest suburb of Chicago, in the United States. It is part of Maine Township High School District 207.

The building itself, constructed in the 1920s, is noted for its distinct Art Deco style.


Maine East was known as Maine Township High School when it was built in 1929 as a replacement for the original Maine Township High School, which itself had been built in 1902. Until 1959, when Maine West High School was built, it was the only school in the district. The school was built with an indoor rifle shooting range and a swimming pool. Over the years, the shooting range was closed and the swimming pool closed with a larger modern pool opened in a new section of the building.

In the early 1920s, Maine Township became the first high school in Illinois to teach courses in automotive repair and telegraphy.[8]

During the Great Depression, most of the staff taught without financial compensation, as the district could not afford to meet salaries. As thanks, local merchants provided necessities to the staff free of charge.

In 1936, Maine East's band director, Alexander Harley, along with his wife Frances, founded Maine Music Masters as a way of honoring musicians in the school band. The idea spread and, in 1952, the chapters at individual high schools were incorporated as Modern Music Masters. In 1983, it was renamed Tri-M Music Honor Society. Today, it is the largest international honor society in music education.[9]

In December 1944 students at Maine Township High School combined forces with their teachers, school administrators, and community members to sell war bonds. The drive succeeded, raising $551,000. As a result of their efforts, the students were invited to a dedication ceremony at the local Douglas Aircraft plant, where C54 Skymaster cargo planes were built for the war. The students named one of the planes the “Maine Flyer” and came up with the motto, “Faster and Higher, That’s Maine’s Flyer.”

In December 1959, the student-operated radio station WMTH-FM went on the air. The first broadcast was of a basketball game in the school fieldhouse. The sportscaster students were Harrison Ford and Marshal Seese. Ford went on to become a major movie star and Marshall went on to be a weather-caster at The Weather Channel.

For a short amount of time, in 1958–1959, there were so many students enrolled in the school (approximately 7,000) that the school day was split into two parts so that half of the population attended in the morning and half in the afternoon. The largest graduating class was the class of 1970 with just under 1,100 students, just before the opening of Maine North High School. Prior to that, graduating classes of about 1,000 students were in 1959, just before Maine West High School opened, and the Class of 1964, just before Maine South High School opened. When Maine North High School closed in 1981, a majority of the students from that school were sent to Maine East, with the remainder being sent to Maine West High School and Glenbrook South High School.[citation needed]

Building and grounds[edit]

The Powell Library at UCLA. This building's architecture inspired the design of Maine East HS.

The architecture of the original building was inspired by the architecture of the Powell Library Building at UCLA. The original building was L-shaped, with a long wing running north–south, parallel to Potter Road. A shorter wing runs east–west, parallel to Dempster Street, with both wings meeting at "the tower" where the main entrance is located. Each of the wings is three stories tall.

The tower is six stories tall, though the higher floors are not in use today because of fire hazard (there is only one narrow staircase granting access to these floors). The fourth floor contains the new heating and air-conditioning systems. The "tower" originally housed the art and music rooms, but since 1960 houses the broadcasting transmitter for WMTH 90.5 FM, the student-operated radio station. Following World War II and up into the late 1960s aviation classes were given with the use of a Link Trainer installed in the tower. The sixth floor also has a balcony on the outside from which there is a distant view, on some days, of the Chicago skyline.

The school has two swimming pools. The newer one is used for physical education classes, and by the interscholastic water polo and swimming and diving teams. The original natatorium, located in the basement, has been shut down due to the need for financially unfeasible repairs, but is kept for its irreplaceable decorative mosaics, which could be damaged with further exposure to water and chemicals.

The school also has a firing range in the basement that was in use when the school opened, as training with firearms was considered essential for young men in the wake of World War I. The firing range was also used for World War II because many people wanted to join the military. Though today used for storage, it is believed to be one of the few non-military academies to still have a usable firing range on the premises.

On the American football / track and field field there is a memorial for Maine East World War II alumni behind the stadium.

Starting in 1988, the school's ecology club began a clean-up and restoration of a small section of the property which was native savanna.[10] In addition to general clean-up, students began annual buck thorn cutting days.[10] In addition to some endangered species, trees as old as 200 years were identified.[10]


The rear entrance of the original building. The brick pedestal at lower right is topped by a sundial, dedicated to the school's science department.

The school offers 18 Advanced Placement courses: English language, English literature, biology, environmental science, chemistry, physics (C), calculus (AB & BC), statistics, computer science (AB), Spanish language, Spanish literature, U.S. history, European history, government and politics, economics, music theory and studio art.[11]

Maine East has been ranked in the top 1,500 of America's public schools (based on the Challenge Index), as reported by Newsweek. In 2009, the school ranked #1,192 and in 2006 it ranked #1,181.[12]

Maine East back in the 1940s with historic architecture


Maine East High School is active in United States policy debate and hosts a tournament with regional significance to Great Lakes-region high school debaters, as those advancing far enough receive a bid to attend the national Tournament of Champions.[citation needed]

The following teams were placed in the top four of the IHSA sponsored State Championship Tournament of their respective competitive activity:[13]

  • Debate: State Champions (1971–72, 1979–80, 1980–81)
  • Scholastic Bowl: 4th (1994–95)
  • Speech Sweepstakes: 3rd (1971–72)

Maine East High School is also home to the Park Ridge Rotary Interact Club, founded in 2013. The Interact Club boasts a large amount of student involvement and has led major fundraising and community service initiatives. The Interact Club has conducted service projects on the local and international level. Its initiatives have received coverage by numerous media outlets. Its motto is "Service Above Self" and it allows students to develop leadership skills through service.[14]


Maine East has competed in the Central Suburban League since 1972. Before then, the school competed in the West Suburban Conference. The school also competes in state championship tournament series sponsored by the Illinois High School Association (IHSA).

The school sponsors interscholastic teams for men and women in basketball, cross country, golf, gymnastics, soccer, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, volleyball and water polo. There are men's teams in baseball, American football and wrestling, while women may compete in badminton, cheerleading and softball.[15]

The following teams were placed in the top four of the IHSA] sponsored State Championship Tournament of their respective sport. These also include IHSA recognized finishes by Maine Township High School prior to 1960:[16]

  • Baseball: State Champions (1957–58, 1958–59); 2nd (1948–49)
  • Cross country (boys): State Champions (1970–71, 1979–80); 2nd place (1947–48); 3rd place (1950–51, 1969–70, 1971–72); 4th place (1955–56)
  • Golf (boys): 2nd place (1949–50)
  • Gymnastics (boys): State Champions (1978–79); 2nd place (1967–68, 1979–80); 3rd place (1966–67)
  • Gymnastics (girls): State Champions (1976–77); 2nd place (1979–80); 3rd place (1977–78); 4th place (1978–79 & 1980–81)
  • Soccer (boys): 2nd place (1975–76)
  • Swimming & diving (boys): State Champions (1931–32, 1933–34, 1934–35, 1935–36, 1936–37); 3rd place (1937–38, 1951–52, 1952–53, 1953–54, 1954–1955, 1958–59): 4th place (1932–33, 1942–43)
  • Track & field (boys): State Champions (1940–41, 1945–46); 2nd place (1930–31, 1936–37, 1943–44)
  • Wrestling: 2nd place (1969–70); 4th place (1972–73)

Notable alumni[edit]


Melissa Bean, Congresswoman
Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State


  • Larry Kramer (1976) is the former Dean of Stanford Law School and past President of the Hewlett Foundation. He currently serves as President of the London School of Economics.

Writing and journalism[edit]


Harrison Ford, actor

Class of 1973 honors 50 years post grad with their classmates Grammy Nominees The Flyin Ryan Brothers dueling Rock Guitarists Jimmy Ryan class of 1973 (who also penned a children's book with his daughter) and Johnny Ryan class of 1974 Multi Grammy Winner Randy Waldman 1973 has been Barbra Streisand's Pianist and Arranger for about 30 years or so. He also has worked with many other stars including Stevie Wonder and Seal and put out two Albums recently, one being called "Superheroes". Grammy Winner Dan Cutrona who was the longtime Keyboard Player for The Archers, Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker, The Bee Gees and so many others also is Producer, Arranger and Songwriter for himself and may others Multi Grammy WinnerPatrick Leonard Keys Producer, Arranger, Songwriter, Keyboardist for Madonna, Jewel, Sean Lennon, Michael Jackson and so many more top named artists




  1. ^ a b c d e f "Maine East High School". Statistical abstract. National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). February 2, 2021. Retrieved August 21, 2011.
  2. ^ "Ken Wallace – Superintendent". Maine Township High School District 207. 2011. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved August 21, 2011.
  3. ^ url =
  4. ^ "Maine East High School". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved February 2, 2021.
  5. ^ a b "Park Ridge (Maine East)". School information. Illinois High School Association (IHSA). August 20, 2011. Retrieved August 21, 2011.
  6. ^ "School Directory | IHSA".
  7. ^ "2010 Illinois School Report Card – Maine East High School". Statistical abstract. Chicago Tribune. 2011. Archived from the original on November 22, 2011. Retrieved August 22, 2011.
  8. ^ Friedlund, Thomas (publishing consultant) (1999), Niles Centennial History, Walsworth Publishing
  9. ^ "History of Tri-M". Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved September 22, 2007.
  10. ^ a b c Cascio, Stefanie (October 25, 1995). "KID ECOLOGISTS SAVE SAVANNA MAINE EAST HIGH SCHOOL CLUB WORKS 7 YEARS ON AREA". Chicago Tribune. p. 1. ProQuest 283987157.
  11. ^ Course offerings
  12. ^ The Top of the Class The complete list of the 1,500 top U.S. high schools; 8 June 2009; Newsweek; accessed 20 June 2009
  13. ^ Maine East Activity Records at
  14. ^ "Maine East, Rotary Join Forces to Create Club - Journal & Topics Newspapers Online: Business". Archived from the original on July 9, 2014.
  15. ^ "Maine East interscholastic sports". Archived from the original on July 4, 2008. Retrieved August 5, 2008.
  16. ^ Maine East Athletic Records at
  17. ^ "Melissa Bean's entry at Washington Post Congressional Database". Archived from the original on September 25, 2007. Retrieved September 18, 2007.
  18. ^ Hillary Clinton's entry in the Congresspedia
  19. ^ "Maine East Alumni Assn". Archived from the original on July 27, 2011. Retrieved May 2, 2008.
  20. ^ "Maine East Alumni Assn". Archived from the original on July 27, 2011. Retrieved May 2, 2008.
  21. ^ Hermann, Brenda (December 14, 1992), "Life In A Padded Cell: A Psychotic Boy With A Pet Rat Is Not The Usual Stuff Of Comics", Chicago Tribune, retrieved August 21, 2011, `In comics you're either rich or you're a cult figure,`` explains artist Marc Hempel, creator of ``Gregory,`` the story of a psychotic boy and a pet rat ... Hempel, 35, was born in Evanston and grew up in Park Ridge where he attended Maine East High School.
  22. ^ Married But Looking on
  23. ^ Book of Grudges on
  24. ^ Maine East Alumni Assn
  25. ^ Maine East Alumni Assn
  26. ^ Yearbook photo of "Harry Ford" as a part of the first WMTH radio group
  27. ^ Grahnke, Lon; Settling down with `Sibs': Glenview's Jami Gertz finds happy home on TV; 1 October 1991; Chicago Sun-Times; accessed 20 June 2009
  28. ^ "University of Chicago announcement of Clay Eals' tour for his Steve Goodman biography". Archived from the original on June 10, 2008. Retrieved September 22, 2007.
  29. ^ Biography of Rich Koz at
  30. ^ Jensen, Trevor, "Scott Mutter: 1944 – 2008: Photographer mixed images to great effect – Work included Wrigley Field lighted by fans, a forest with parquet floor", Chicago TribuneMarch 13, 2008, accessed June 20, 2009
  31. ^ Maine East Alumni Assn
  32. ^ Steve Smith statistics and biography at

External links[edit]