Niantic-Harristown High School "Indians"

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Niantic High School Building
niantichsfrontdav.jpg
Submitted by Dennis Downey

Niantic HS Inscription
niantichsinscriptiondav.jpg
Courtesy of Dennis Downey

The History of Niantic-Harristown High School
 
Niantic (population 738) is located in the very central part of Illinois in west-central Macon County. Niantic is located about five miles west of the outskirts of Decatur.  The town is located about 1 and one-half miles north of Interstate Highway 72 on Four Bridges Road.  The Norfolk & Western Railroad travels through the heart of Niantic. 
 
The town of Niantic supported Niantic Township High School from, quite likely, the late 1800s through 1948.  It was then that the school district added the town of Harristown to its name to form the Niantic-Harristown School District.
 
Harristown (1,330) is located in west-central Macon County as well, about three miles east of Niantic.  Nicantic-Harristown High School was supported by the two towns for several more years.  It was in 2004 that a second consolidation effort was undertaken by the two towns.  The school districts of Niantic-Harristown and Illiopolis agreed to consolidate their educational efforts to create the Sangamon Valley School District. 
 
A more in-depth look at the history of Niantic and Harristown was sent to us by Niantic-Harristown Class of 1993 graduate Fred Knap
 
    "The Niantic school system actually can be traced to 1847, 6 years before Niantic was founded.  The original school was a log structure 2 miles south of the current town in the original settlement in the township known as Long Point.  When the railroad came through, the community and the school both moved.  The school was in several buildings in town.  Around 1901, a new brick school (still in exisitance as an apartment building) was completed that served as everything until the teens.  A second, wooden,  building was built next to the school to start a 2 year HS program that my grandfather completed.  When the 4 year program was started, it was decided to build a bigger more permanent building.
 
    The first graduating class (4 year H.S.) of Niantic Community High School was in 1922.  That is also the year that the new H.S. building first opened.  The first class to attend all 4 years in the new building was 1926 and was therfore the oldest class to be pictured in the building.  Niantic Community High School continued to operate independently through the '47-'48 school year.  My uncle was a part of that last class in NCHS in 1948.  The consolidation with Harristown (which never had a high school of its own) only made official, the unofficial arrangement where most people from the Harristown area attended at Niantic anyway.  The colors of Niantic Community High School were purple and gold with the Indian as the mascot (paying tribute to the indian heritage of the town name).
 
    Niantic-Harristown High school was just a conintuation of NCHS.  The only real change was that "community" was replaced by "Harristown" in the school name.  I am unsure when the school fight song was first adopted, but it was based on a peom that was written by a student at some point in time.  The name of the song/poem was "Oh Niantic" (I think, when I was there we just called it "School Song" most of the time) and was set to the tune of "Indiana, Our Indiana" (fight song for the University of Indiana).  As the years passed, the original NCHS building was added on to and remodeled many times.  NHHS conintued to operate until the end of 2004 (ironically the sesquicentennial of the town of Niantic).
 
    Sangamon Valley High School is now located in the building that spent many years housing Niantic-Harristown Jr./Sr. High School.  Sangamon Valley Middle School is now located in the former Illiopolis High School portion of the Illiopolis School Building.
 
    The reason the football information stops after the '89-'90 season, is that was the first year of a sports co-op between Niantic-Harristown, Illiopolis, and Buffalo Tri-City involving football, girls basketball, and wrestling.  Football was hosted at Illiopolis, Girls Basketball at Niantic, and Wrestling at Tri-City.  When the co-op was renewed in 1992, more sports were added to the agreement (girls softball was added as one of my classmates had to switch from playing on the boys baseball team, to the new softball team at Illiopolis).  Eventually, most if not all sports were shared by Niantic and Illiopolis with Tri-City involved in a few.
 
    The 2004 consolidation was actually the second attempt to consolidate NHHS and Illiopolis.  The first attempt was in 1991 and failed when the voters in Illiopolis overwhelmingly rejected the plan.  Illiopolis then passed a tax increase in order to continue the operation of their school system as they were not yet ready to give up the "heart" of their comminity.  Illiopolis was such a strong football school and town that the home field for the JV Football team at Sangamon Valley High School is in Illiopolis."
 
The high school for the Sangamon Valley District was located in Niantic.  We are not sure if this is located in the original Niantic High School, however we are fairly certain it is located in the Niantic-Harristown High School building.
 
Niantic & Niantic-Harristown High School Quick Facts
 
Year Niantic High School opened:                            late 1800s
Year Niantic consolidated with Harristown:               1948
Year Niantic-Harristown High School closed:            2004
Consolidated to:                                                    Sangamon Valley School District (Niantic)
Niantic / Niantic Harristown HS team nickname:   the "Indians"
Niantic / Niantic Harristown HS team nickname:   Purple & Yellow
NHS School Fight Song:                                        "Niantic, Our Niantic"
                                                                                                     University of Indiana Fight Song Tune
Athletics
 
Niantic and Niantic-Harristown both offered boys basketball, football, track, XC and baseball.  Niantic-Harristown HS also competed in girl's sports including basketball, volleyball, and track. Niantic-Harristown High School also had some great success in the English Department, including a STATE CHAMPIONSHIP in Scholastic Bowl Competition!!   
 
We will break the sports down as they are listed on the IHSA website (www.ihsa.org). The team nickname(s), color(s), fight song(s), coach's names, and team reocrods are all items we are seeking at this time.
 
BOYS BASKETBALL
 
As Niantic High School the boys won a total of three District Championships.  After Harristwon was added, the school won five more District titles and four Regional titles!  The seasons as listed on the IHSA website are inturn listed below.
 
As Niantic High School
 
1936-37                District Champions
1942-43                District Champions
1944-45                District Champions
 
As Niantic-Harristown High School
 
1955-56                                                                                                  Coach Roger Andrews
1958-59                 DIstrict Champions
1959-60                 District Champions
1960-61                 District Champions
1961-62                 District Champions
1969-70                 District Champions
1984-85   19 - 8                                                                                     Coach Doug Graven
1985-86   16 - 10                                                                                   Coach Doug Graven
1986-87   18 - 9                                                                                     Coach Randy Moss
1987-88   14 - 11                                                                                   Coach Randy Moss
1988-89   17 - 8    Regional Champions                                           Coach Randy Moss
1989-90   15 - 11                                                                                   Coach Randy Moss
1990-91   19 - 8    Regional Champions                                           Coach Randy Moss
1991-92   19 - 6                                                                                     Coach Randy Moss
1992-93   23 - 4    Regional Champions                                           Coach Randy Moss
1993-94   19 - 8    Regional Champions                                           Coach Randy Moss
2000-01                                                                                                   Coach Rob Smith
2001-02   18 - 13                                                                                    Coach Rob Smith
 
BOYS BASEBALL
 
As a solo school Niantic High School won a District title for their hometown fans.  As Niantic-Harristown High School the N-HHS boys won a total of four Regional titles.  Unfortunately the coach's names and team records of these and other great teams from Niantic are not currently available. 
 
As Niantic High School 
 
1942-43                    DIstrict Champions
 
As Niantic-Harristown High School
 
1980-81                    Regional Champions
1985-86                    Regional Champions
1986-87                    Regional Champions
1993-94                    Regional Champions
 
FOOTBALL
 
Only the exploits of the Niantic-Harristown football teams are recorded on the IHSA website.   These records are available from 1958-59 through 1989-90.  The best of the seasons and all of the coach's names are listed below.   
 
1958-61                                                                                         Coach Don Richardson
1961-62                                                                                         Coach Chuck Larson
1962-65                                                                                         Coach Merlin Jones
1966-68                                                                                         Coach Marshall Grant
1968-69     6 - 1 - 1                                                                       Coach Rick Perry
1969-70     5 - 2 - 1                                                                       Coach Rick Perry
1970-71                                                                                          Coach Tom Hopkins
1971-72     7 - 1                                                                             Coach Tom Hopkins
1972-73     5 - 3                                                                             Coach Tom Hopkins
1973-77                                                                                          Coach Tom Hopkins
1978-80                                                                                          Coach Mike Poe
1980-81     7 - 2                                                                             Coach Mike Poe
1981-82     5 - 4                                                                             Coach Mike Poe
1982-83                                                                                          Coach Mike Poe
1983-84                                                                                          Coach Randy Niles
1984-86                                                                                          Coach David Bills
1986-88                                                                                          Coach Mike Grace
1988-89                                                                                          Coach Randy Moss
1989-90                                                                                          Coach Steve Fear
 
GIRLS BASKETBALL
 
The ladies of the hardwood court for Niantic-Harristown High School had some nice seasons of their own.  A Regional Championship and a 20-win season are the hi-lites listed on the IHSA website.
 
1984-87                                                                                                   Coach Dave Kondritz
1991-92                             Regional Champions
2002-03     20 - 9                                                                                    Coach Dan Miller
 
GIRLS VOLLEYBALL
 
The Niantic-Harristown High School lady netters had some solid seasons in the early 1990s under the guidance of Coach Charissa Howe.
 
1990-91       19 - 5                                                                             Coach Charissa Howe
1991-92                                                                                               Coach Charissa Howe
1992-93       15 - 9                                                                              Coach Charissa Howe
1993-94                                                                                               Coach Charissa Howe
1994-95       17 - 12                                                                            Coach Charissa Howe
1995-96       18 - 12                                                                            Coach Charissa Howe
 
BOYS TRACK & FIELD
 
Two Niantic High School boys and six Niantic-Harristown lads brought home medals from the IHSA State Track Meet.
 
Niantic High School
 
 
1924-25B          ?? Park                          Discus                 3RD Place
1948-49             George Porter              Long Jump         3RD Place
 
Niantic-Harristown High School
 
1976-77             Tim Jump                      Discus                    7TH Place
1977-78             Joel McKinney             2 Mile Run              6TH Place
1981-82             Todd Rotz                     100 Meter Dash    5TH Place
                             Todd Rotz                    200 Meter Dash    2ND Place
1990-91              Brian Wickline           200 Meter Dash     8TH Place
1991-92              Brian Wickline           200 Meter Dash     7TH Place
1992-93              Brandon Pickel          200 Meter Dash     7TH Place
1994-95              Scott Weldy                400 Meter Dash     5TH Place 
1995-96              Scott Weldy                400 Meter Dash     4TH Place
 
GIRLS TRACK & FIELD
 
Three individuals and one Relay Team won medals for the Lady tracksters of Niantic-Harristown High School.
 
1990-91                Margaret Peveler    400 Meter Dash     6TH Place
1991-92                Margaret Peveler    400 Meter Dash     5TH Place
                               Sarah Eliff                  1600 Meter Run     7TH Place
                               Sarah Eliff                  3200 Meter Run     8Th Place
1992-93                Relay Team               4X400 Meter           3RD Place 
1994-95                Suzanne Dale            Discus                      6TH Place
 
BOYS CROSS COUNTRY
 
Although there are no team records available pertaining to Niantic or Niantic-Harristown H.S. Cross Country teams, one athlete made his mark with the program by placing at the State Meet:
 
1978-79               Joel McKinney          7th Place
 
ACADEMIC COMPETITION
 
The kids of  Niantic-Harristown High proved they were a well-rounded group.  District titles and Sectional titles were hi-lites.  But how about this bit of information.....THE SCHOLASTIC BOWL TEAM OF 1995-96 WON THE STATE CHAMPIONSHIP!!
 
SCHOLASTIC BOWL 
 
A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP in this event must have been a proud moment for the school and towns of Niantic-Harristown.  Two other teams won Sectional titles as well.  Coach Donna Cheatham led the Scholastic Bowl teams to their remarkable successes in the mid-1980s
 
1993-94      41 - 24   Team Qualified for State Competition      Coach Donna Cheatham
                                     Sectional Champions
1994-95      44 - 22    Team Qualified for State Competition      Coach Donna Cheatham
                                      Sectional Champions
 
1995-96      60 - 13    TEAM WON STATE CHAMPIONSHIP!!!       Coach Donna Cheatham
                                      Sectional Champions
 
                                      Final Team Standings
 
                                      1)   NIANTIC-HARRISTOWN HIGH SCHOOL   Coach Donna Cheatham
                                      2)   Beardstown
                                      3)   Peoria Heights
                                      4)   Ottawa (Marquette)
 
GROUP INTERPRETATION
 
Niantic-Harristown won a District Championship in this event! 
 
1973-74            District Champions
 
INDIVIDUAL EVENTS
 
This event also landed a DIstrict title!
 
1975-76            District Champions
 
In addition six individuals won State Medals in this competition!
 
1977          Daryl Smothers & Jeff Meador            Humor Duet             4TH Place
1978          Daryl Smothers & Ron Claypool          Dramatic Duet        3RD Place
                                                                                        Humor Duet             6TH Place
1979          Daryl Smothers & Ron Claypool          Drama Duet             5TH Place
                   Jeff Meado
r                                              Humor Inter.             4TH Place
1982          Barbra Sigmon                                        Orig Oratory             6TH Place
1983          Barbara Sigmon                                      Orig Oratory            3RD Place 
1990          Mark Claypool & Jeff Meyers               Dramatic Duet        3RD Place
 
Theatre

The Illinois Theatre Festival is the largest, non-competetive high school theatre festival in the world. It was organized in 1976 by teachers from the Chicago suburbs. This festival is still going strong as they perform at the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana) and Illinois State University every other January. Niantic-Harristown High school participated in this festival in 1990, from 1994 to 1997, and again in 1999.
 
 
Seeking More Information
 
Niantic High School and Niantic-Harristown High School both have great and storied histories.  If you have any information you can share, especially a photo of the high school buildings, you can e-mail it to us at ihsgdwebsite@comcast.net or you can write to us at:
 
Illinois HS Glory Days
6439 N. Neva St.
Chicago, Il.       60631