Chicago Aquinas High School

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Chicago Aquinas High School

                             The History of Chicago Aquinas High School
Chicago (population 2.8 million) is located in northeastern Illinois in eastern Cook County. Lake Michigan, along with the Chicago and Des Planes Rivers, are the main waterways to and from town. Interstates 55, 57, 90, and 94 all lead you to the "Windy City." From what started as a small village in the early 1800's, Chicago has grown to the nation's third largest city and one of the most famous places in the world.
As Chicago expanded from its original location at Lake Michigan and the Chicago River, so did the need for creating schools to educate its young people. The Catholic Archdiocese also saw for this need and created schools for the children of Catholic families as neighborhood populations grew.
One such school that was begun for the children of Chicago's South Side was named Aquinas High School, which opened in 1915 at the corner of 72nd and Clyde in the former Catholic Extension Society building in the Bryn Mawr neighborhood. The school was the only co-educational institution that the Archdiocese of Chicago established at that time at the request of then-Archbishop James Quigley. Seventy-nine students were enrolled in September of that year with eight Sisters from the Sisters of St. Dominic in Adrian, MI in charge.

A new building was erected in 1917 when the first graduating class were presented with their diplomas by new Archbishop George Mundelein. The school offered a general course of study, along with those specializing in household arts and sciences, commercial courses, along with music & art.

In 1930, after the completion of a building addition, the school went to an all-girls' enrollment and changed its name to Aquinas Dominican High School, per Cardinal Mundelein's request. Following World War II, Aquinas' enrollment began to climb upward to 800 during the 1950's and exceeded its freshmen capacity, which could be a reason why the Archdiocese enacted procedures for limiting overcrowding in its schools thru its freshman entrance examinations. Students either were accepted for enrollment at the school they tested at or advised to attend a public school prior to about 1960, but after that time, students were given additional choices for being placed into another Archdiocese school in order to alleviate overcrowding and fill any vacancies in those schools.

By 1980, the school's enrollment was down to 417 (most of them African American students) and Aquinas was facing a decline in enrollment and tuition revenues, increasing operating costs, and the lack of teachers within the Dominican community. The Archdiocese decided reorganize Aquinas along with three all-girls' schools on the South Side (Visitation, Unity, and St. Thomas the Apostle) to form the VAUT Corporate System from which two schools, Aquinas Catholic and Unity Catholic, were formed. Unity Catholic served those who attended St. Thomas the Apostle and Unity (enrollment 622), and remained open until 1988 before merging to become part of St. Martin de Porres, Aquinas Catholic's student body was from Visitation and Aquinas (totalling 468 that first school year), but was closed following the 1982-83 school year due to declining enrollment. 

We have found a website that tells what life was like attending Aquinas Dominican during the early 1960's. The address is: 

Aquinas High School Quick Facts
Year opened as Aquinas HS:                                                            1910
Year reopened as Aquinas Dominican and allowed only girls: 1930
Year of merger with Visitation to form Aquinas Catholic:             1980
Year closed:                                                                                          1983
School nickname:                                                                                 "Angies"
School colors:                                                                                       Black & Gold
School yearbook:                                                                                 "Taquin"
School Fight Song:          Aquinas High School Loyalty Song 
                                        (courtesy of Mary Van Deusen)
Arise ye faithful Aquinites,
Your colors bright unfurl.
Let your voice sing the part
In the choice of your heart.
It's the school for every girl.

Then sing, girls, and send the strains above
With echoes of a love that ne'er will die.
Sing, girls, along the path of life and bring,
Joy in everything. Victory will ring.

Then lift high the head, the heart, the eye,
And tell America Aquinas offers.
American youth, American truth,
The spirit of faith and honor.
Hail Black and Gold.

To you we sing with hearts afire.
We love to hear your name.
Let the Flame never fail,
Keep the Light on the trail,
And the goal, that is our aim.

Athletics and Extra-Curricular Activities
While it was an co-ed school, we are certain that boys' basketball was offered to the male students of Aquinas High School, and that the girls' had a track star during the final year of the schools' operation.
We are led to believe that Aquinas Dominican and Aquinas Catholic did offer a wide variety of activities and programs which allowed for a well-rounded education for the all-girl enrollment. School dances, plays, clubs, and other activities such as band and chorus were a very important part of their schools' experience. If you have any further information to add about this aspect of Aquinas, please contact us at the addresses listed below.
The Aquinas boys competed in some roundball, according to information acquired from the Illinois High School Association's website ( Unfortunately, the school showed up three times over a four-year period in the category of losing a game without having scored a point in biggest margin of victory. St. Rita beat Aquinas 23-0 in a game on January 13th, 1922, then just over two years later on January 18th, 1924, De La Salle shut out the Aquinites 32-0. That was followed up on February 2nd, 1926 as Quigley Prep won 22-0.
Aquinas did participate in the Catholic High School Girls' Basketball League from 1927-31, according to prep historian Robert Pruter. The league was made up of Alvernia, Longwood, Loretto High, Loretto Academy, Mercy, St. Mary, St. Scholastica, St. Xavier, Visitation, Evanston Marywood, and Wilmette Mallickrodt. No league titles were won by Aquinas, and the league was replaced by the Catholic Youth Organization's girls' basketball league in 1932. 
There was one track star that put the school's name into the sports pages during the late 1970's and early 1980's as the school name changed from Aquinas Dominican to Aquinas Catholic. Bridgette Jones went to the state AA meet in Charleston three times and came home with five medals in the speed events.
As Aquinas Dominican
1978AA Brigette Jones           100-yd dash---7th place
                                                     220-yd dash---4th place
1980AA Brigette Jones           100-meter dash---2nd place
As Aquinas Catholic 
1981AA Brigette Jones           100-meter dash---3rd place
                                                     200-meter dash---2nd place
**From an anonymous alum:
"I'm a 1975 graduate of Aquinas Dominican. I was just looking for some info on my old school and came across your website. The history you give is very informative and the picture is good too, although when I attended the original front doors had been replaced with glass and metal ones. Aquinas was a great school and gave me a high-quality education. I was sad to hear that it closed so long ago, but times change. I was lucky to have been a part of the school's history."
From Ryan Kulovitz:
"I came across your website when I was doing research on Aquinas Dominican High School for genealogy. My mom was a 1956 graduate. At that time I believe the school nickname was the "Angies." I got that information from the yearbooks from 1953 to 1956 which are, of course, the years my mother attended. I don't have these yearbooks but tracked them down. The Adrian Dominican Sisters in Adrian, MI have these copies and probably many more. They ran the school for most of its history. I found them very pleasant and accommodating and I'm sure they'd be a great resource for you. Hope this helps!"
To Provide Further Information on the history of Aquinas High School  
Please write to us via e-mail at We are looking for more details about the history of the school, some of its famous graduates or faculty, school nickname, and photos, too! You can also send your information to us via the U.S. Postal Service at the following address:
IHSGD Website
6439 N. Neva St.
Chicago, Il.  60631