The History of Warren Township High School District 121
The first schoolhouse was erected in 1838. A second school was constructed in 1840. The school was later relocated one quarter of a mile down the road. Other elementary schools were soon built. A combined school at Gurnee Grade School was built in 1908, which housed both the high school and grade school. The high school district organized in 1915 and was established formally in 1917.
The first high school building was erected at a cost of $112,000 in the spring of 1918 on O’Plaine Road, at that time known as High School Road. The first graduating class in the spring of 1918 graduated from the school building that was under construction. WTHS opened on its present site of O’Plaine Road in the fall of 1918 with an enrollment of 64 students and seven teachers.
Additions to this structure were made in 1926, 1951, 1956, 1960, 1968, and 1974. This building was destroyed by a major fire on December 20, 1984 just prior to the winter break. At that point in time, all students and staff moved to the Lake Forest High School West Campus. From January 1985 until June 1987, the Lake Forest Campus was the educational facility for all the students of WTHS. After the fire, facility construction began in May 1986 and was completed in mid-August 1987. Students and staff returned to the O’Plaine Campus in Gurnee for the first time since December 1984.
Due to an enrollment growth, a second school facility was constructed on Almond Road. The 1997-98 school year was the first time that WTHS operated an educational program using two buildings. The 9th and 10th grade students are primarily housed in the building on O’Plaine Road (O’Plaine Campus), while the 11th and 12th grade students primarily attend the Almond Road (Almond Campus) building.
Both campuses saw more building expansions and improvements in 2004, 2008 and 2012. In 2009, Warren’s enrollment made it the largest high school in Lake County.
A Transportation Center, located on Swanson Court in Gurnee, was constructed for bus and van services in 2013 and is currently sharing services with Gurnee School District 56. Warren’s Transition Program opened at Gurnee Mills in 2015, which is a premiere special education post-high school program for special needs students ages 19-22 years old.
Warren Township High School District #121 (WTHS) covers over 50 square miles and includes all or part of Beach Park, Gages Lake, Grandwood Park, Grayslake, Gurnee, Millburn, Old Mill Creek, Park City, Third Lake, Wadsworth, Waukegan and Wildwood. The District offers diversity that includes suburban and more urban neighborhoods, regional retail and amusement destinations including Gurnee Mills and Six Flags Great America, lakeside communities, and horse farms.
WTHS continues to be an award winning district. These awards have included a “Those Who Excel” recognition from the Illinois State Board of Education and a national “Blue Ribbon School” recognition from the U.S. Department of Education. For the last six consecutive years Warren has been named as one of the best high schools in America by the Washington Post. This school year, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission named 192 students as Illinois State Scholars and 17 students received recognition and scholarships from the National Merit Scholarship Program.
Warren is proud to deliver a comprehensive and diverse academic program with over 250 courses that meets the needs of our 4,050 hardworking students. Warren is dedicated to providing the highest quality curriculum, classroom instruction, and extra-curricular activities for our students. From the 25 Advanced Placement courses, 35 Honors courses, and our 4-year Project Lead the Way Program to the 28 athletic sports and 58 clubs and activities, Warren has seen many successes at both the local, state and national levels. The commitment of our effective and talented faculty and staff is demonstrated by their outstanding instruction, support and services provided to students daily.
We remain committed to our mission of maximizing the growth and achievement of every student through rigor, support and innovation!