Towanda H.S. "Green Hornets"

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Towanda High School
towandahs1932.jpg
Courtesy of "Towanda, McLean County, Illinois 1826-1976"

The History of Towanda High School
 
Towanda (population 493) is located in east-central Illinois in north-central McLean County. Interstate Highway 55 passes by the east side of Towanda and connects it to its big neighbor 5 miles to the southwest, Normal. Historic highway Route 66 once passed through Towanda. The Illinois Central Gulf Railroad runs through town as does a branch of the Money Creek.
 
There is a brief but informative article on the history of the Towanda school system on the Towanda Elementary School web site (http://www.unit5.org/towanda/history.html). The first school in Towanda was a subscription school established in 1854. A two-year high school was established in 1894, a three-year high school in 1906, and finally a four-year high school in 1911. A school building to house the school system in Towanda was built in 1913, until it was added onto in 1932 with a gymnasium and classrooms. It remained in this form until 1991 when a newer building for elementary students was built (see below). 
 
Towanda's four-year high school served the town for 37 years until a consolidation of several small schools including the town of Normal took place in the late 1940's. It was in 1948 when Towanda High School was deactivated and the McLean County Community District #5 was established. Towanda Grade School remained to serve those from K-8, graduating its last eighth grade class in 1956. The school then became a K-6 school with the 7th and 8th graders bused to Normal for junior high, and remains that way today. 
 
There is more information being gathered about the history of Towanda as well as the high school, which can be accessed by clicking on this link to the Towanda Area Historical Society's website: http://www.towandahistory.org/index.cfm.
 
 
Towanda High School Quick Facts
 
Year opened - two-year high school:              1894
Year converted to three-year high school:      1906
Year converted to four-year high school:        1911
Year Towanda School building built:              1913
Year Towanda High School deactivated:        1948
School nickname:                                       "Green Hornets"
School colors:                                             Green & White
School yearbook:                                        "The Totem"
School newspaper:                                      "Hi-Lite" 
School Fight Song:                                      unavailable      

Towanda High School Basketball
towandsbball1914mons.jpg
Team of 1913-14

Towanda High School
towandahs1912.jpg
Built 1912 (courtesy of "Towanda, McLean County, Illinois 1826-1976"

Current Towanda Elementary School
towandaschool.jpg
Towanda, Illinois

Athletics
 
We know Towanda High School offered boys' basketball as a member of the Tri-Valley Conference along with Anchor, Cooksville, Colfax, Cropsey, Downs, Bellflower, Ellsworth, Saybrook, and Arrowsmith during the 1940's. Six-man football was offered in 1939, and baseball was also offered. It is our understanding that track was also offered, but there has been no evidence found to show that the school may been involved in meets. If you have any information regarding the athletic program at THS, please drop us a line.
 
Boys' Basketball
 
The hardwood court men of Towanda High School brought home one District Championship plaque. It is a good bet there were many great seasons at the Towanda H.S. gymnasium. Conference championships and winning seasons are being sought. The District Championship is listed below, though coach's name and team record are not available.
 
1929-30   19-  5  (good record)                      Coach Ben Smith
1936-37             District Champions
1939-40   12-13                                           Coach George Bodecker    
 
Football
 
The Green Hornets fielded a six-man squad during the 1939-40 season as the idea spread across the nation from Texas, where it was begun earlier in the decade and spread from there. In that season, Towanda played against county schools such as Colfax, Lexington, and Chenoa.
 
1939   0-4                                           Coach George Bodecker
 
Baseball
 
Towanda did offer this sport as a spring and fall sport throughout the time the school was offered. In the spring of 1940, we were able to find a partial record in the school yearbook, "The Totem." Prior to going to press, the Green Hornets were 6-5 with four games left in the season under coach George Bodecker.
 
 
 
MEMORIES
 
From former student Neysa Miller Zurkammer: 
 
"I was a student in the building you show as "Towanda High School." Until the consolidation as Unit 5, it was actually Towanda School - I started first grade there in 1944 and the grade school was located on the bottom floor and the high school was mainly on the top floor, with a couple of classrooms on the first floor and science lab, etc., in the basement (if I remember correctly). My sister, Norida Miller, graduated from Towanda High, but my brother and I both graduated from NCHS."
 
If You Can Provide...
 
...any further information regarding the history of Towanda High School, especially of some of the great teams that played at THS, you can e-mail us at ihsgdwebsite@comcast.net. You can also write to us at:
 
Illinois HS Glory Days
6439 N. Neva St.
Chicago, IL  60631   

First Towanda High School
towanda1867.jpg
1867-1912 (courtesy of "Towanda, McLean County, 1826-1976")