J. Sterling Morton High School West

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J. Sterling Morton High School West
J. Sterling Morton West High School.jpg
2400 Home Ave.
Berwyn, Illinois 60402
United States
Coordinates 41°50′49″N 87°48′01″W / 41.846936°N 87.800227°W / 41.846936; -87.800227Coordinates: 41°50′49″N 87°48′01″W / 41.846936°N 87.800227°W / 41.846936; -87.800227
School type public secondary
Opened 1958
School district J. Sterling Morton HS Dist. 201
Superintendent Michael Kuzniewski[1]
Principal Joshua McMahon[2]
Faculty 218[3]
Grades 9–12
Gender coed
Enrollment 3,184[4]
Average class size 19.3[4]
Campus suburban
School colour(s)      maroon
Athletics conference West Suburban Conference
Nickname Mustangs[5]
Average ACT scores 17.8[4]

J. Sterling Morton West High School (Morton West or JSM for short) is a four-year public high school in Berwyn, Illinois. It is a part of J. Sterling Morton High School District 201. In 1958, the school opened to 2,359 students. The building fronts along 2400 block of Home Ave. Constructed on former farmland, Morton West sported a state-of-the-art, two story campus style structure that has about nine wings designed to evenly distribute student traffic throughout the building. Morton West school is the second newest building in the district (the first being the Morton Freshmen Center built in 2004).

The district and its schools are named after Julius Sterling Morton because he was friends with Cicero resident and fur trader Portus Baxter Weare.[6]

In the high school district students living west of Ridgeland Avenue are zoned to Morton West;[7] areas west of Ridgeland Avenue include most of Berwyn, Forest View, Stickney, and Lyons.[8][9][10]


As early as 1926, District 201 had plans to open a second high school in Berwyn, going as far as to purchase the property needed.[11][12] However, after years of trying to convince voters of a need, voters narrowly defeated the US$600,000 bond issue needed for construction.[13]

In 1943, the issue of adding a second school again was raised, with a proposal to build it on the site of Gage Farm in Berwyn. While the issue was raised, it was realized that any planning would need to wait until after the war.[14] In 1953, a US$5.9 million bond issue was approved by voters for construction of a new school and athletic fields in Berwyn.[15]

As late as March 1958, the school board set Ridgeland Avenue as the attendance boundary for the schools, sending 45% of then-Morton students to the new school.[16] The opening of the new school also brought an end to three decades of split shift attendance.[16]

One early logistics problem with the new school was the requirement for some students to cross the Illinois Central Railroad tracks near the school. City of Berwyn worked with the railroad to create a pedestrian underpass to accommodate students who would need to cross the tracks.[17][18][19]

In 1966 the school added two new wings, F-hall and W-hall. In the late 1990s, The school added a new edition to W-hall and M-hall.

In 1995, a Hispanic student, in an attempt to make a political statement against "slavery, Japanese internment during World War II and other forms of discrimination that stain U.S. history", burned an American flag at his home, and brought the remains to school for friends to view in his locker.[20] Some white students took exception to this and began to yell and threaten him.[20] Racial tensions began to mount over a few days prompting the school to confiscate the remains of the flag.[20] Several white students mounted a mass recital of the Pledge of Allegiance in the student cafeteria, though were muted by the school officials.[20] The United States Department of Justice sent conciliation specialists to the school, and the key students involved formed a Conflict Resolution Committee.[20] The student apologized for burning the flag because he had offended those whom he did not wish to, and the Conflict Resolution Committee remained a part of the school to deal with other problems.[20]

Morton West became the subject of national news coverage in late 2007. On November 1, 2007, twenty five students staged a sit-in in the student cafeteria to protest the presence of military recruiters who occasionally visit the school.[21] The school suspended the students, and then moved for their expulsion, citing the students had been a disruption to the school day.[21] The students challenged this assertion, and many of them and their parents protested outside the school on November 6.[21] On November 7, several students and parents protested at a school board meeting, requesting not only that the expulsions be overturned, but that students be given an opportunity to express themselves freely.[21][22] The superintendent countered with a statement stating that students could have chosen to protest after school and outside school, but instead chose to disrupt the school day, which was the sole motivation for the punishments.[21][22] Police officers who had responded to the scene confirmed that the students were peaceful, and had moved to a side hallway when asked to by school officials to avoid a high traffic area.[22] Three students were suspended for one year, pending alternative school placement, one for two years pending alternative school placement, and a fifth was suspended for two years, and was not to receive any further services from the district.[23] Of the 27 speakers who spoke in the public forum (not all of which were speaking about the expulsion issue), at least 12 spoke directly out against the board decision, and none in favor of it.[23] Rainbow/PUSH became involved, siding with the students.[24] By November 13, the expulsions had been retracted, and all but four students were allowed to return to class (who were allowed to return after their suspensions had ended).[24][25]


Morton West's class of 2008 had an average composite ACT score of 17.8.[4] 77.6% of the senior class graduated.[4] Morton West did not make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) on the Prairie State Achievements Examination, which with the ACT comprises the state assessments used to fulfill the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Neither the school overall, nor two of its three student subgroups met expectations in reading or mathematics. The school is listed as being in its fifth year of academic watch.[4]


Since 1986, Morton West and Morton East have operated a unified athletics program, recognized by the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) as Berwyn-Cicero (Morton).[26] Teams are stylized as the Mustangs, with school colors of maroon and green. From 1958—85, Morton West had its own athletic program. Teams were stylized as the Falcons, and school colors were green and white.[27] In 1985, Morton West merged with Morton East and the team was changed to the Mustangs.

Notable alumni[edit]

  • Jim Peterik is a guitarist, songwriter, and singer known for his work with the bands The Ides of March and Survivor.[28]
  • Jerry Wainwright coached the men's basketball team at DePaul University from 2005 to 2010.[29]
  • Scott Childers is a Chicago area radio personality and author of "Chicago's WLS Radio," a history of WLS-AM Radio.
  • Karen Conti, a local attorney featured on radio and TV
  • Bruce Buckley, a voice over talent, featured on WTTW and others
  • Dan Pompeii, a widely read sports writer
  • Nancy Brodsky (Bogardus), author (as Nancy L. Hix) of Collector's Guide to Buying, Selling, and Trading on the Internet, Collector's Guide to Online Auctions, and The Business Guide to Selling through Internet Auctions.
  • Luke Gregerson, MLB pitcher for the Houston Astros


  1. ^ JSM District Administration; accessed 26 July 2009
  2. ^ JSMHSW homepage; accessed 28 July 2009
  3. ^ Staff e-mail directory; search for "west" staff; accessed 28 July 2009
  4. ^ a b c d e f Class of 2008 Illinois School Report Card; accessed 26 July 2009
  5. ^ a b Morton HSs information; ihsa.org; accessed 26 July 2009
  6. ^ Kay, Betty Carlson. Cicero: The First Suburb West (Images of America). Arcadia Publishing, 2000. ISBN 0738507865, 9780738507866. p. 45.
  7. ^ "1950s." J. Sterling Morton High School East. Retrieved on December 20, 2016.
  8. ^ "SCHOOL DISTRICT REFERENCE MAP (2010 CENSUS): Cook County, IL Page 4." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on December 20, 2016.
  9. ^ "Polling Locations for March 2012." Stickney Township. Retrieved on December 20, 2016.
  10. ^ "Polling Locations for March 2012." Stickney Township. Retrieved on December 20, 2016.
  11. ^ Cicero, Berwyn, and Lyons Vote for New High School; Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1963); 19 May 1926; ProQuest Historical Newspapers Chicago Tribune (1849 - 1986), ProQuest. Web; accessed 28 July 2009
  12. ^ Plan New West Suburban High School Junior College; Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1963); 11 March 1928; ProQuest Historical Newspapers Chicago Tribune (1849 - 1986), ProQuest. Web; accessed 28 July 2009
  13. ^ Voters Defeat Proposal For Berwyn School; Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1963); 24 May 1931; ProQuest Historical Newspapers Chicago Tribune (1849 - 1986), ProQuest. Web; accessed 28 July 2009
  14. ^ BOOST BERWYN HIGH SCHOOL PLANS: PROPOSE GAGE FARM AS SITE FOR BUILDING; Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1963); 17 October 1943; ProQuest Historical Newspapers Chicago Tribune (1849 - 1986), ProQuest. Web; accessed 28 July 2009
  15. ^ Bonds for High School, Field in Berwyn Voted; Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1963); 7 June 1953; ProQuest Historical Newspapers Chicago Tribune (1849 - 1986), ProQuest. Web; accessed 28 July 2009
  16. ^ a b RIDGELAND AV. IS MORTON HIGH DIVIDING LINE; Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1963); 30 March 1958; ProQuest Historical Newspapers Chicago Tribune (1849 - 1986), ProQuest. Web; accessed 28 July 2009
  17. ^ BERWYN SEEKS UNDERPASS TO NEW SCHOOL: City Calls I. C. Tracks Student Hazard; Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1963); 31 July 1958; ProQuest Historical Newspapers Chicago Tribune (1849 - 1986), ProQuest. Web; accessed 28 July 2009
  18. ^ BERWYN LOOKS AT SHORT CUT OVER RAILROAD: City Studies Plan for Underpass; Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1963); 1 January 1959; ProQuest Historical Newspapers Chicago Tribune (1849 - 1986), ProQuest. Web; accessed 28 July 2009
  19. ^ Plan to Build Underpass at School Cross; Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1963); 3 September 1959; ProQuest Historical Newspapers Chicago Tribune (1849 - 1986), ProQuest. Web; accessed 28 July 2009
  20. ^ a b c d e f Zorn, Eric; FLAG BURNING HAS STUDENTS SEEING RED AND WHITE AND BLUE; 6 April 1995; Chicago Tribune; p. 1; accessed 28 July 2009
  21. ^ a b c d e Blakley, Derrick & AP; Parents Upset Over Expulsions For Student Protest; 6 November 2007; cbs2chicago.com; accessed 28 July 2009
  22. ^ a b c Yednak, Crystal; Students Call Protest Punishment Too Harsh; 7 November 2007; New York Times; accessed 29 July 2009
  23. ^ a b Minutes of the Board of Education Meeting for J. Sterling Morton District 201; 7 November 2007; accessed 29 July 2009
  24. ^ a b Grossman, Kate, N; Morton High protesters can return to class; 13 November 2007; Chicago Sun-Times
  25. ^ Yednak, Crystal; Illinois: Students Allowed to Return to Class; 15 November 2007; New York Times; accessed 28 July 2009
  26. ^ Information for Berwyn-Cicero (Morton); ihsa.org; accessed 27 July 2009
  27. ^ Berwyn Morton West "Falcons" ; Illinois HS Glory Days historic website; accessed 27 July 2009
  28. ^ "Ides of March come to play at NCC". The Courier-News. Sun-Times Media. 12 May 2011. Retrieved 8 December 2013. 
  29. ^ Ryan, Shannon; DePaul’s Jerry Wainwright will be part of Middle East trip; 3 August 2008; chicagotribune.com; accessed 28 July 2009