Monroe Center High School "Panthers"

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Monroe Center High School Building
monroecenterhsbldgdav.jpg
Submitted by Roberta Van Briesen

Monroe Center High School Building #2
monroecenterhsbldg2dav.jpg
Submitted by Roberta Van Briesen

The History of Monroe Center High School
 
Monroe Center (population approximately 350) is located in northeastern Illinois about 10 miles south and a little east of Rockford.  The town sits on Illinois Route 72 1mile east of Interstate Highway 39 in northeastern Ogle County. The CMSP & P Railroad runs through Monroe Center as well.
 
Monroe Center does have a website (www.monroecenter.org) however the history of the town and its school system is in need of research.  It is probable that Monroe Center had a high school in place for its children by the late 1800s or early 1900s.  The high school served the town and surrounding farm kids through at least the late 1950s.  At some point, probably in the late 1950s or early 1960s, it was decided to close Monroe Center High School and join forces with the nearby Stillman Valley.School District. We do know that Monroe Center High School was open through at least the 1952-53 school year as William Henry Hackman graduated from MCHS in 1953.  
                         
The following information was provided by Stan Kruger showing a brief history of Monroe Center High School:
 
"I have a document which provides a compilation of the graduates of the Monroe Center High School, through the school year of publication.  That document is dated September 20, 1954, and was constructed under the supervision of then Principal Harold R. Steinhauser.  On page 1, which lists the Superintendents of the school district from 1900-1955, there is the following statement about the history of the High School:
   
"The high school course at Monroe Center consisted of two years from 1900-1904.  The Class of 1905 was the first to be graduated from the three year course.  The class of 1921 was the first to graduate from the four year course and also the first to be graduated after the present building was constructed.  No high school classes were graduated in 1918-19-20."
      
The Class of 1901 (four members) is the first listed.

Monroe Center HS Class of 1938 - Reunion 2010
monroecenterhsclassof1938reuniondav.jpg
Rockford Register Star Newspaper - submitted by Roberta Van Briesen

Monroe Center High School Students Early 1900s
monroecenterhsstudentsdav.jpg
Submitted by Roberta VanBriesen

Monroe Center does have a grade school for grades Pk - 5.  
 
The fate of the original Monroe Center High School building was provided to us by Phil Knight:
 
"The old high school was demolished in the late 60's, after sitting abandoned for more than a decade.  The old high school gymnasium was left remaining.  The Monroe Township Fire & Ambluance District (http://www.monroecenterfire.org/) took possession of the gymnasium and built its firestation next to it.  The fire station has a full-sized gym attached to it that is available to be rented."
 
Monroe Center High School Quick Facts
 
Years opened as 2-year HS:    1900-1904
Years operated as 3-year HS:  1905-1921
Years operated as 4-year HS:  1922-1955 
Annexed to:                               Stillman Valley School District
Monroe Center HS nickname:   the "Panthers"
MCHS team colors:                   Blue & White
School Fight Song:                    "We're :Loyal to You"
                                                           Quick Facts Info Provided by PAM ATCHISO

Monroe Center HS Gymnasium
monroecenterhsandgymdav.jpg
Now Village Fire Department - Courtesy of Roberta VanBriesen - 2007

Athletics
 
Monroe Center High School competed in basketball and did so quite well.  It is probable that the school competed in baseball and track as well.  School team nickname, colors, fight song, and team records and coach's names of MCHS teams are all being sought.
 
Boys Basketball
 
The boys basketball team of Monroe Center HS won a total of four District titles (www.ihsa.org).   The titles came in three different decades with three of the titles coming in an eight year period.  The team records and coach's names for these and other MCHS basketball teams are not currently available.
 
Several scores from the IHSA State Tourney were located on a website titled "Illinois Postseason Basketball Scores." These scores are listed below.
         
1933-34         Rockford District Tournament                         Coach's name & record needed
                        1st Rd Lost to South Beloit 45-13
                        South Beloit lost in 2nd Rd
   
1934-35         Rockford District Tournament                         Coach's name & record needed
                        1st Rd Lost to Fairdale 30-17
                        Fairdale lost in 2nd Rd
    
1935-36  Postseason scores, record, and coach's name needed.
1936-37  Postseason scores, record, and coach's name needed.
             
1937-38         Rockford District Champions                         Coach's name & record needed
                        Title Game - Beat Seward 22-21
                        Rockford Regional Tournament
                        Scores unavailable
     
1938-39  Postseason scores, record, and coach's name needed.
1939-40  Postseason scores, record, and coach's name needed.
1940-41  Postseason scores, record, and coach's name needed.
1941-42  Postseason scores, record, and coach's name needed.
1942-43  Postseason scores, record, and coach's name needed.
 

Monroe Center High School "Panthers" of 1942-43
monroecenterhsbball194243dav.jpg
Submitted by Stan Kruger

 Photo Above
Front row, left to right:  Merle Lantz (10), Gene Ebens (8), Ernie Mellor (6), Warren Miller (7).  
Back row, left to right:  Lester J. Soucie (District Superintendent, High School Principal, Coach), Harold Brace (5), Stan Kruger (11), (Unidentified) (9), Bill Johnson (3).
1943-44  Postseason scores, record, and coach's name needed.
    
1944-45         Monroe Center District Tournament               Coach's name & record needed.
                        1st Rd Beat Caledonia 38-35
                        Semi-final lost to South Beloit 41-26
                        South Beloit lost title game to Kirkland
  
1945-46         Monroe Center District Tournament               Coach's name & record needed.
                        1st Rd lost to Kirkland 61-25
                        Kirkland won District Tourney        
      
1946-47         Monroe Center District Champions               Coach's name & record needed
                        Semi-final Beat Kiungston 50-33
                        Title Game Beat Kirkland 22-16
                        Belvidere Regional Tourney
                        1st Rd lost to Rockford St. Thomas 38-27
                        St. Thomas lost in semi-final round
    
1947-48         Monroe Center District Tournament               Coach's name & record needed.
                        Semi-final lost to Stillman Valley 38-29
                        Stillman Valley won District Tourney
   
1948-49         Stillman Valley District Tournament                Coach's name & record needed
                        1st Rd lost to Kirkland 72-48
                        Kirkland placed 2nd in District.
   
1949-50         Monroe Center District Runner-up                 Coach's name & record needed
                        Semi-final Beat Winnebago 43-38
                        Title Game lost to Stillman Valley 41-39
   
1950-51         Stillman Valley District Runner-up                 Coach's name & record needed
                        1st Rd Beat Durand 72-49
                        Semi-final Beat Pecatonica 43-35
                        Title Game lost to Stillman Valley 54-43 
             
1951-52         Monroe Center District Champions                Coach's name & record needed
                        Semi-final Beat Stillman Valley 64-41
                        Title Game Beat Kirkland 53-44
  From Brian Hoxsey:
"In 1952, Monroe Center High School defeated Kirkland High School "Komets" in the Monroe Center District Tournament title game 53-44.  Monroe Center was led by Dick McKnight (18 points) and LeRoy Mincemoyer (14 points)."
                        West Rockford Regional Tourney
                        1st Rd lost to Harlem 71-54
                        Harlem lost in semi-final round 
      
1952-53  Postseason scores, record, and coach's name needed.
1953-54  Postseason scores, record, and coach's name needed.
                   
1954-55         District Champions                                             Coach's name & record needed
                        District location & scores needed
                        Marengo Regional Tournament
                        1st Rd lost to Genoa-Kingston 52-46
                        Genoa-Kingston lost title game.            
        
No other postseason scores or information available.
                        
Football
 
Monroe Center played tough on the grid iron too.  Some of the better season records posted by the MCHS boys as researched by Tom Sikorski are in turn listed below.
 
1954  5-2  2nd place (tie) Route 72 Conference             Coach Gordy Johnson
1955  2-5  Last team.                                                            Coach Gordy Johnson    
 
Last win in school history was 27-20 over Pecatonica.
 
Need Your Assistance
 
If you have any further information regarding the many successes attained at Monroe Center High School before its merger with nearby Stillman Valley, please write to us via e-mail at ihsgdwebsite@comcast.net.   You can also write to us via real mail at:
 
Illinois HS Glory Days
6439 N. Neva St.
Chicago, Il.  60631