A growing student population, crowded schools, and community involvement led to plans for a new high school on Chicago's southwest side. Ground was broken for the new high school on October 3, 1963. Until the new school was built, the high school students were housed in every nook and cranny of the Kinzie Elementary School. Thus, Kennedy High School was originally named John H. Kinzie High School. Tuesday, November 16, 1965 was a memorable day in the history of our school. On this day, the name of our school was officially changed from John H. Kinzie to John F. Kennedy High School. The ceremony was highlighted by a phone call from the vice-president of the United States, Hubert Humphrey and included comments by Mayor Richard J. Daley and the Superintendent of Schools, Benjamin C. Willis. The program was broadcast over closed-circuit television, thus allowing parents and friends to view the ceremony in the various classrooms.
In 1965, Kennedy High School and St. Paul Catholic High School initiated a successful dual enrollment plan, the only plan of its kind in the state. Students attended St. Paul part time taking English, social studies, and religion and came to Kennedy High School for all other subjects. Because of declining enrollment, St. Paul closed its doors in 1977 by order of the Chicago Archdiocese, thus ending the dual enrollment plan.
Kennedy's enrollment grew rapidly, approaching over 3,800 students in 1972, which made it necessary to use classrooms in Kinzie Elementary School and mobile units which were located where the parking lot now exists. The school day consisted of twelve periods with students coming in four different shifts.
In the fall of 1973, the overcrowded conditions at Kennedy High School were alleviated when another high school opened its doors. Kennedy High School now operates with an approximate enrollment of 1,600 within the framework of an nine period day.
JOHN FITZGERALD KENNEDY
May 29, 1917 - November 22, 1963
John F. Kennedy was the 35th President of our country, the first Catholic and the youngest man ever so elected. He was graduated cum laude from Harvard University in 1940. As a navy Lieutenant, he commanded a PT boat squadron during World War II. For his heroism and leadership, he was awarded the Purple Heart and the Navy and Marine Corps Medal. In 1946, he was elected to the US House of Representatives and reelected in 1948 and 1950. In 1952, John Kennedy was elected to the US Senate from Massachusetts. He was inaugurated on January 20, 1961. During his two years and ten months in office, he emphasized America's youth through physical fitness and educational programs. Among his accomplishments: the space program, the Peace Corps, the Cuban missile crisis, Civil Rights, the Trade Expansion Act, and the Alliance for Progress.
On November 22, 1963, John Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery where an eternal flame burns in his honor. John F. Kennedy High School is part of the Garfield Ridge-Clearing Community. Originally named 'John H. Kinzie', the school was renamed 'John F. Kennedy' in 1964, and officially dedicated on November 16, 1965.
In May, 1974, a bronze plaque, donated by 25 seniors, was placed in the main corridor. The plaque bears the inscription from John Kennedy's inaugural address, 'The torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans.' We like to feel that our young men and women represent the determined generation he hoped for.