Forest City High School "Blue Birds"

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Forest City High School
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Photo Courtesy of Jon Wheat

Forest City HS Entrance - "1921"
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The History of Forest City High School
 
Forest City (population 287) is located in north central Illinois about 25 miles southwest of Peoria.  The town was platted in 1859 in the northeastern portion of Mason County.  The roadway through Forest City is Manito Road which intersects with County Highway 4 in the town.  The Chicago & Illinois Railroad runs tracks through the village.  A look at the 1876 history of Forest City can be found at http://iltrails.org/mason/1876/forest44.html .  
 
Forest City began its educational system for its children in the late 1800s.  A high school curriculum was surely in place by the late 1800s to very early 1900s.  Forest High School served the village and the surrounding farm kids at least until the late 1940s.  Consolidation talks began with its neighbor to the northeast, Manito.  These talks were finalized in the spring of 1951 with the creation of the Forman School District.  The high school for the new district was located in Manito.  The final graduation ceremony for Forest City High School took place on May 28, 1951.  Our good friend Phil Shadid tells us there were 12 seniors that year who earned the final FCHS diplomas ever issued.
 
We believe the high school building on this page served as a grade school for the Forman District for several years. It currently sits vacant in town.

Forest City High School Park
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Submitted by Phil Shadid

The above photo is was taken in 2008 by our good friend Phil ShadidPhil provided the following comments about the park that now stands in Forest City:
 
"This park remains as a tribute to the high school at Forest City.  The team was nicknamed the "Blue Birds".  The school's last year was 1951 after which it merged with Manito to form the Manito Forman school district.  The old school is in a sad state of disrepair with many windows broken along with a crumbling outer structure. All students from Forest City attend school in Manito."  
 
Special thank you to Jon, Jim, and Dan Wheat for sending us several photos for this page which they took in January of 2006. A check of the property and the old school grounds in 2014 by our friend Owen Pulver revealed the reality of the situation for the old school building. The school and gymnasium are no more, reduced at some point to a pile of bricks. Long live the Forest City High School spirit!
 
Forest City High School Quick Facts:
 
Year opened:                           late 1800s
Year closed:                            1951
Consolidated to:                       Manito Forman School District
Forest City HS team nickname: the "Blue Birds" (1941-51)
                                               the "Blue Jays" (? - 1941)  
FCHS team colors:                   Blue & White
School Fight Song:                   unavailable

FCHS Gymnasium
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Athletics
 
We are confident that Forest City High School competed in basketball. We believe that like most small schools of its day baseball and track were offered too.  There is, however, no mention of Forest City High School in any sport on the IHSA website (www.ihsa.org).  We are hopeful an area fan will be able to assist us in trying to find the information on FCHS sports so we can share it on this site.  Team fight song, great team accomplishments, coach's names, ect., are all items of interest.
 
Boys Basketball
 
The Forest City boys were the best in the area, at least in 1930 they were, and they proved it.  The Mason County Tournament was held annually and in 1930 the FCHS team came out with the championship.  Forest City won its only Mason County boys basketball championship in 1930, when it defeated Kilbourne, 24-10.  FCHS teams were known as the "Blue Jays" until 1940, and the "Blue Birds" from 1941 until the school closed in May 1951. Thank you to Phil Shadid for supplying us with this excellent tidbit of information on the Forest City HS basketball program.
 
1929-30              Mason County Tournament Champions
                          Beat Kilbourne in title game 24 - 10
 
1945-46 21 - 4                                                              Coach Kirby Lawlis
                       From Phil Shadid regarding this team:
                       "3rd place in Mason County tournament
                       They won all 13 of their home games, and
                       beat their county rivals at least once each. 
                       The Mason County Democrat newspaper
                       described it as the best record in the history
                       of the school, even better than the county
                       champions of 1930.  The coach's son,
                       Bus Lawlis, led the team in scoring, and
                       had 20-plus points in several games.  He
                       had plenty of help from Gene Hubbard,
                       Jack Beale, Marv Kreiling, Earl VanEtten
                       and Donald Calloway.  Others who played
                       were Norman White, Dale Rochester, Bill Henry,
                       Robert O'Hara and Jack Wolwode."
 
1946-47   6 - 12                                                              Coach Kirby Lawlis
1947-48 11 - 12                                                              Coach Kirby Lawlis
1948-49   2 - 17                                                              Coach Kirby Lawlis
1949-50 11 - 16                                                              Coach Kirby Lawlis
1950-51   7 - 13  Final Season                                         Coach Kirby Lawlis
 
FCHS basketball research conducted by our good friend Phil Shadid:
 
"Coach Kirby Lawlis ended his career at the school, having coached from 1928 thru 1951.
 
The last basketball game for Forest City High School played was on Feb. 21, 1951, in the Green Valley district tournament, a 67-41 loss to San Jose.  Scoring for Forest City: Ray Vance, 12; Delbert Callaway, 10; Richard VanEtten, 9; Parker Lawlis, 4; Ronald Kreiling and Don Vance, 3 each.  Others who played, but did not score: Arlan Vogel, James Fleming, Loren Sunderland and Fred Friedrich.
 
The last game won by the Bluebirds was on Jan. 26, 1951, a 46-44 win over Chandlerville."
 
 
Need Your Assistance
 
If you have any further information regarding the many successes attained at Forest City High School before its merger with nearby Manito, please write to us via e-mail at ihsgdwebsite@comcast.net.   You can also write to us via real mail at:
 
Illinois HS Glory Days
6439 N. Neva St.
Chicago, Il.  60631

Forest City High School "Complex"
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Photos Taken in January of 2006 by Jon Wheat