J. Sterling Morton High School West
|J. Sterling Morton High School West|
|2400 Home Ave.
Berwyn, Illinois 60402
|School type||public secondary|
|School district||J. Sterling Morton HS Dist. 201|
|Average class size||19.3|
|Athletics conference||West Suburban Conference|
|Average ACT scores||17.8|
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).
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. However, after years of trying to convince voters of a need, voters narrowly defeated the US$600,000 bond issue needed for construction.
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. In 1953, a US$5.9 million bond issue was approved by voters for construction of a new school and athletic fields in Berwyn.
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. The opening of the new school also brought an end to three decades of split shift attendance.
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.
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. Some white students took exception to this and began to yell and threaten him. Racial tensions began to mount over a few days prompting the school to confiscate the remains of the flag. Several white students mounted a mass recital of the Pledge of Allegiance in the student cafeteria, though were muted by the school officials. The United States Department of Justice sent conciliation specialists to the school, and the key students involved formed a Conflict Resolution Committee. 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.
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. The school suspended the students, and then moved for their expulsion, citing the students had been a disruption to the school day. The students challenged this assertion, and many of them and their parents protested outside the school on November 6. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. Rainbow/PUSH became involved, siding with the students. 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).
Morton West's class of 2008 had an average composite ACT score of 17.8. 77.6% of the senior class graduated. 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.
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). 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. In 1985, Morton West merged with Morton East and the team was changed to the Mustangs.
- Jim Peterik is a guitarist, songwriter, and singer known for his work with the bands The Ides of March and Survivor.
- Jerry Wainwright coached the men's basketball team at DePaul University from 2005 to 2010.
- 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
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