Maine West History

West - History
Maine Township High School District 207 was created in 1901, when Maine Township residents voted to establish a local high school and issue $15,000 in bonds to construct a building. The District’s first building, located on Thacker/Dempster Street in Des Plaines, produced its first graduating class - 3 students - in November of 1902.

By the mid-1920s, a growing student population prompted plans for a new building. Land was purchased at Dempster and Potter Road in Park Ridge, a site chosen for its central location and accessibility for residents of both Des Plaines and Park Ridge. The new Maine Township High School opened in served as district’s sole high school until the mid-1950s. 

In 1957, facing a projected enrollment of 9,000 by 1965, voters approved the purchase of two additional high school sites. The Board of Education bought 73 acres of farmland at Oakton and Wolf in Des Plaines and additional land at Dee Road and Talcott in Park Ridge.

Maine West High School opened at the Des Plaines site on Sept. 8, 1959, to 2,300 students and 131 teachers. The district chose West’s distinctive hub-and-spoke design with the idea that each wing - with its own science labs and gym - would serve as a separate school within a school, a concept that lasted only one year. D Wing was added in 1967, L and E Wings were built in 1969, and the athletic facilities were expanded in 2016. 

With an emphasis from the beginning on forging a tightly knit school community, students clubs and councils quickly became integral parts of the new school, and, to this day, Maine West is characterized by a high level of student involvement in extracurricular activities.

Throughout the years, students and staff have earned national and state honors for academic and extracurricular excellence. Along the way, Maine West has had opportunities to celebrate state championships, in marching band, Science Olympiad, badminton, baseball and girls basketball. 

Like all Maine 207 schools, Maine West features a superb and comprehensive fine arts program, which often enhances students’ work in other academic areas, connects students to a larger world and provides exceptional entertainment to community members through concerts, theatrical productions and related events. 

The school received national attention in 1980, when Ronald Reagan made Maine West the site of his last official campaign stop before the election; he later recognized West as one of the top 50 high schools in America.

In recent years, Maine West has earned a spot on the list of the Washington Post’s “Most Challenging Schools” and has also appeared on US News’ list of “Best High Schools” in America.

Distinguished Alumni Award inductees include P. Stephen Baenziger, Hans Wahl, Kenneth Piest, John Schafer, Donald Maruska, Sandra Heinisch Teichow, Douglas Merkel, James Sorensen, Allen Blue, Elliott Dodge, Douglas Lauffenburger and James Kahn.
  • Maine North High School
  • Frost Academy