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Guerin College Prep High School, River Grove, Illinois

Chicago Archbishop Meyer invited the Sisters of Providence to establish a high school for girls in River Grove adjacent to the Holy Cross High School for boys. The offer was accepted, and the decision was made to name the school after Mother Theodore Guerin, foundress of the Sisters of Providence. The Archbishop gave the land and contributed $1 million. Groundbreaking ceremonies took place on April 15, 1962, with Monsignor McManus officiating. Since the new building would not be ready for occupancy until the fall of 1963, a wing of Holy Cross High School was rented. More than 300 freshmen began classes in September 1962. Bishop Cletus O’Donnell presided at the laying of the cornerstone on Aug. 24, 1963, and on Sept. 9, classes began in the new building with 796 freshmen and sophomores. Cardinal Meyer blessed and dedicated the school and the convent on April 11, 1964.

The school was built to accommodate 1,200 girls. However, the enrollment grew well beyond this, and in the 1970s, five mobile units were added. Other developments have been the establishment of the Learning Club, a preschool in the Home Economics Department, and some co-educational classes with Holy Cross.

In 1990, following a recommendation of representatives of Catholic School Management, Sister Margaret Kern was appointed first president of Mother Theodore Guerin High School. She was succeeded in 1993 by Sister Cathy Campbell.

In accordance with the Congregation’s Contingency Plan, the sisters made studies at various times to consider the possible sale of Guerin High School or the leasing of it to the archdiocese. In 1985, the sisters proposed a lease to the archdiocese. According to the terms of the agreement, the sisters need the written consent of the archdiocese to discontinue maintenance or sell. The archdiocese was unwilling to lease the school or allow the sale, as the school as thriving and it was needed because of the large number of students who wished to enroll in a Catholic high school. As of 1996, the school continued to operate as a sponsored institution of the sisters.

In April 1999, Sister Nancy Nolan was appointed third president of the school, and Sister Kathleen Burke the principal. Sister Kathleen resigned at the end of the 2000-01 school year. Sister Jeanne Hagleskamp, who had been principal from 1991-97, accepted the invitation to serve as interim principal during the 2001-02 school year. Bonnie Brown, who had been assistant principal, was named principal beginning in the 2002-03 school year.

When Holy Cross High School for boys announced it would close in June 2004, Cardinal George asked if the sisters and Guerin would be willing to become co-education, college preparatory high school. The request was granted, and in September 2004, the school opened its doors as Guerin College Preparatory High School (link).

Guerin Prep, as the school is often known, is bustling with students. Alumnae from Mother Theodore Guerin High School may contact Janis Ryan at 708-453-6233 or email jryan@MTGuerin.org.

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