Kirkland High School "Komets"

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Kirkland High School Bldg - 1911-58 Gym in Center
Submitted by Wayne DeMunn

The History of Kirkland High School
Kirkland (population 1,166) is located in north-central Illinois in the northwestern portion of DeKalb County. The town was named after the man who donated the land for it to be platted, William T. Kirk. The town was first called Kirkwood and later changed to Kirkland. It was officially recognized as a town in August of 1882.  More can be read about the history of the town at the town's officially webiste page of
Illinois Route 72 is the main roadway leading to and from Kirkland. The South Branch of the Kishwaukee River flows to the north of town and the Bull Run Creek flows by the west edge of of Kirkland. The Soo Line Railroad runs through the town of Kirkland as well.

Kirkland School Building HIstories
Submitted by Wayne DeMunn (left click on photo for larger version)

The following information was sent to us by Wayne DeMunn regarding the history of the Kirkland School buildings:
"The school you have pictured at the top of the Kirkland page was built and opened in 1938. It was an all in one school similar to the old country school's. The grade school (probably grades 1-4, 4 class rooms; 2 upstairs 2 down) was in the north wing (Left in your pic), the higher grades (5-12) were in the south wing (Right in your pic) and the gym was indeed in the center.
Kirklands first high all inclusive high school was built and opened in 1958 on the east end of the same property lot. The former building then became the grade school & middle school, grades K-8. I dont know for sure when the football field was built but my guess about the same time period around 1938 and since the newer high school was built so close their was probably no reason to change it.
The mascot of the original Kirkland High School was the Kirkland Komets spelled with a 'K'. It changed to the Kirkland Hiawatha Hawks in 1958. The school system  Dist 426 is known as the Kirkland Hiawatha School Dist since the latter 50's and was known as simply Kirkland Schools before that.
All of Kirkland's first 4 schools like country schools were multi-grade schools until the Kirkland Hiawatha High School was built in 1958. Having that said, their were high school graduates from these early schools and once graduated they were said to be graduates of Kirkland High School. I suspect this would have been the same policy throughout small communities all over the country.
The photo to the right is of the 3 Schools scanned from a single page of a locally published book: "Recollections of Forgotten Day's, Kirkland, Illinois" written by George Gibson {1888-1972}. The first of these 3 schools was Kirkland's first Public School built in 1879 and opened that fall. This school was built before Kirkland became a Village in 1882 but served after that date, thus becoming Kirkland's first official school. I don't have the book but think I remember reading that this first school survived in the neighborhood of 10 years before it burned down.
The school was located on the south west corner of South St and 4th Street, one block north of IL Rt 72 is today. The building was 40' x 60' and had 4 classrooms downstairs, Mrs E.A. Hatch was the first Principal. The upstairs was one large open room and was used by the Methodist Church for services before their church was built. Some time after this school burned down, a home was built where it stood and still stands on that location today.
School's no 2 and no 3 were were built on the south side of Kirkland. The location was on the south end of 5th St and on the south side of Hortense Drive. School No 2, I believe is the same old school you have pictured on your site. I'm not sure when it was built but 1891 sounds about right. However it survived passed 1908 as it is well documented that it burned down on May 13 of 1910. According to the May 14, 1910 issue of the Sycamore Daily Republican, the school burned the day before. It was reported that the school was "totally destroyed" and that no children died because it was at the "noon hour." 
School No 3 was built about 1911 on the same exact foundation as school no 2. My niece who is planning on becoming a history teacher found info showing regarding the cost and contracts for building this 3rd Kirkland School: C.O. Lewis of Belvidere, Illinois was awarded the building contract for the "new school" for $10,460. The plans were drawn by an architect in Rockford, IL named Scheurman.
This 3rd school survived until 1938 when the 4th Kirkland school was built. From what I remember reading, after it was no longer needed, it was dismantled and the lumber was sold to a local who used it to build a house. Its possible the old school building may still be standing, in a different form, somewhere in the area."
The earliest roots of the educational exploits in Kirkland history are in need of research. We believe the folks of Kirkland established a school shortly after the town was incorporated. It is probable that a high school was established in the very early 1900's. Kirkland High School served the town on a solo basis for about sixty years. A consolidation effort for the small schools in the northwestern DeKalb County area took place in the late 1950's. We believe this effort was realized after the 1958-59 school year as the new Hiawatha High School building was dedicated in August of 1959. This resulted in the creation of the Hiawatha School District.
The high school for the Hiawatha District is located in Kirkland. The Kirkland High School building is now used as the Hiawatha Grade School building.
Kirkland High School Quick Facts
Year opened:                            late 1800s
Year consolidated to Hiawatha:  1959
Kirkland HS team nickname:      "Komets"
Kirkland HS team colors:           Purple & Gold
Kirkland HS Fight Song:            unavailable

Kirkland Football Field & 1938 School Bldg. - 2011
Submitted by Wayne DeMunn

Kirkland High School had some great success in their area in the sport of boys basketball. We believe that baseball, track, and possibly football were offered as well. Team nickname, colors, fight song, coaches' names, and team records are all items being sought.

Kirkland High School Gymnasium 1928-38
Courtesy of Wayne DeMunn

Boys' Basketball
Ten District titles were the hi-lites of a very successful run in basketball.  Six of these titles were won in the decade of the 1940's! 
The following information regarding the Kirkland HS gymnasium viewed in the photo to the right was sent to us by Wayne DeMunn:
"The building that use to stand in the photo to the right was used for a Gym by those who attended the 3rd school. It was one block north of the school on the south west corner of 5th and Prospect and the building had a storied history.
The building was built as the Kirkland Congressional Church in 1896 with moneys donated by Kirkland's main founder, William T Kirk. In 1928, the building was purchased by the Kirkland School system and converted into a gymnasium and was used in that way til 1938 when the new school at the East end of Prospect St was built. Once the new school was opened, the former church / school gym was sold to the local undertaker who converted it into a funeral home. It remained a funeral home unti1994 when it was demolished to make way for a new funeral home building which remains in business today at that location."
Team records and coaches' names, unfortunately, are not currently available for the District Championship teams.  Other team recoreds and coach's names are welcome as well..
1938-39                District Champions
1940-41                District Champions
1942-43                District Champions
1943-44                District Champions
1944-45                District Champions
1945-46                District Champions
1948-49                District Champions
1952-53                District Champions
1955-56                District Champions
1963-64                District Champions

The Komets also played on the gridiron, according to good friend and conference historian Tom Sikorski. Prior to the school's name change, Kirkland played in the Rainbow Conference and won a title along with sharing another with Elburn.

1948  0-1-0          First team (known simply as Kirkland)            Coach unknown
1949  2-4                                                                                     Coach Tony Karas
1950  6-2-1          Joined Rainbow Conference                           Coach Tony Karas
1951  4-4                                                                                     Coach Tony Karas
1952  2-4                                                                                     Coach unknown
1953  3-3-1                                                                                  Coach Harry Woodyatt
1954  7-1             Co-champs of Rainbow with Elburn           Coach Harry Woodyatt
                              (teams split two games vs. each other in conference play)
1955  6-1             Rainbow Conference Champs                     Coach Harry Woodyatt
1956  0-6                                                                                     Coach Harry Woodyatt
1957  2-5                                                                                     Coach Harry Woodyatt
1958  1-6             Charter member of Little 8 Conference           Coach Harry Woodyatt
                              Last team known as Kirkland 
From Gene Duffy:
"I lived in Kirkland from 1959 to 1968, my father owned the local watering hole. When he bought it in in 1959, in the basement was a basketball warm up jacket. It was from the Kirkland Komets, it was Gold with Purple lettering. Love your website, lots of memories there. Thank you for that."
Seeking Further Information
We are seeking more information on the successes and achievements attained by Kirkwood High School students, faculty, and residents. We are looking for a photo of the original Kirkland High School building. You can e-mail information to us at You can also write to us at:
Illinois HS Glory Days
6439 N. Neva St.
Chicago, Il.     60631

Kirkland Hiawatha HS Building 1958 - present
Courtesy of Wayne DeMunn

Kirkland School Building 1891-1908

From long-time Glory Days Websitre contributor BRIAN HOXEY::
Gene Lamont  played for the Detroit Tigers 1970-72 and 1974-1975.  Was The manager of the Chicago White Sox 1992-1995 (258-210) and Pittsburgh Pirates 1997-2000 (295-352). He is also a graduate of Hiawatha High School!
For Lamont, There`s Still No Place Like Home

February 25, 1992|By Alan Solomon, Chicago Tribune.

KIRKLAND, ILL. — Not much of a town, Kirkland. Never really has been.

The population, 1,600 or so 30 years ago, is down around 1,400 now. The days when thousands of sheep were shuttled in daily from Omaha for a drink and a haircut are long gone. So is the train station. The hemp mill. The drug store. The oil well. The hotel.

Hiawatha High School-named not for the fellow by the Big Sea Water but for a train-stands where the racetrack was. There are, today in Kirkland, three taverns, one restaurant, one gas station, one barber chair in Pat`s shop, a huge grain elevator and little else.

Signs proclaiming Illinois Highway 72`s brief conversion to ``Main Street`` from either direction say ``Welcome to Kirkland: A place to call home.``

Might as well. The phones work, and there`s not much else to do. Nice town, really, just not a lot of it.

Says Gene Lamont: ``You just go through there, I guess.``

But the man hired this winter to manage the White Sox did more than go through the farm town midway between De Kalb and Belvidere 75 miles northwest of Chicago. He grew up there, went to school there, still has family there, still has friends there, still loves it.

``It`s small,`` he said, ``but I enjoyed it, and I still go back all the time. It`s kind of a close-knit town. Call it a one-horse town or whatever you want to call it, but it`s quite a place.``

Kirkland left its mark on Gene Lamont. Gene Lamont left his mark on Kirkland.

Make that plural.

- In 1964, senior quarterback Lamont, leading a shotgun offense redesigned for his passing ability, carried Hiawatha`s Hawks to a 7-1 record and their only Little Eight Conference football championship. The season included a victory over ever-mighty Genoa-Kingston. ``We just could never beat `em,`` Lamont said. ``I don`t think we`ve beat `em much since.`` He was named the team`s Most Valuable Player.

- Two Lamont school records in baseball still stand, both set as a junior, for triples (six) and home runs (five) in a season. ``We probably averaged five major-league scouts a day at all our home games,`` said Rich Dubek, then basketball coach and athletic director at Hiawatha. `` `Here come the Cadillacs and the lawn chairs.` `` As a senior, Lamont was named the team`s Most Valuable Player.

- In 1964-65, the basketball team went 24-3, losing by a point in the districts to Hampshire, with Lamont battling a 104-degree fever. In all, 16 school records established by Lamont in basketball at Hiawatha still stand, including his 26.3-point scoring average (as a junior) and career records in scoring, free throws and rebounds. As a senior, he was named the team`s Most Valuable Player-for the fourth straight season.

He earned 12 varsity letters and spots on 11 all-conference teams, plus a couple of all-state teams. Played in the band for four years, sang in the chorus for four years, was Homecoming King, made National Honor Society.

``I always tell everybody, `I graduated eighth in my class,` `` he said.

``I don`t always tell `em how many were in it.``

There were, he said, 41. Or 44. It doesn`t matter.

Kirkland was settled in the 1840s-children`s graves in the Franklin Township Cemetery, across from the high school, give harsh testimony-but was incorporated formally as a village in 1882. As part of its Centennial, each year was given a highlight: 50 hitching posts purchased in 1894, a store-opening in 1901, a local man losing his life in World War I in 1917, the start of garbage pickup in 1946, a firehouse in 1955.

The highlight of 1965: Gene Lamont signs with the Detroit Tigers.

In Kirkland, in all the games, he was the best there ever was.

Then he left.

Gene Lamont signed a scholarship to play basketball at Kansas State. He never got there.

``He was an excellent ballhandler, excellent shooter and he had total control of the floor,`` said Dubek, who later watched the progress of Billy McKinney and Rob Judson at Zion-Benton. ``Everybody was looking at him.``

He changed his mind when the Tigers drafted him in the first round that June. There was bonus money, a package worth $35,000. Martha Lamont`s boy had made it big. Kirkland celebrated with him.

``There were probably people who thought maybe I should`ve gone and played college basketball,`` Lamont said, ``but at the time, you couldn`t do both. Now you can.

``But they were excited. They probably thought I`d get to the big leagues real quick.``

He didn`t. He caught for six seasons in the Detroit minor-league system before a September callup in 1970.

``We all knew Gene would make it up there someday,`` said Judy Lacefield, a cousin.

He homered in his first big-league at-bat, against former Cub Cal Koonce, then spent most of 1971 back at Toledo. In his one full season in the big leagues, he played 60 games for the Tigers in 1974 as Bill Freehan`s backup and hit .217.

``I knew pretty quick I wasn`t going to be a good player,`` Lamont said