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New Trier High School (also known as New Trier Township High School or NTHS) is a public four-year high school with its major campus located in Winnetkamarker, Illinoismarker, USAmarker, and a second campus in Northfieldmarker, Illinois, with freshman classes and district administration. Founded in 1901, the school is known for its large spending per student, academic excellence, and its athletic, drama, visual arts, and music programs. New Trier's primary campus in Winnetka is used by sophomores, juniors, and seniors, while the freshmen attend classes at the Northfield campus. The school serves Chicago's North Shore suburbs of Wilmettemarker, Glencoemarker, Winnetkamarker,Kenilworthmarker, most of Northfield, part of Glenview and part of Northbrookmarker.

The school is named after the city of Triermarker, Germanymarker, and New Trier's logo depicts the Porta Nigramarker, symbol of that city; the athletic teams are known as the Trevians.


The high school was founded in 1901 in Winnetka, Illinois, with seventy-six students and seven faculty members. In 1912, New Trier became the first high school in America to have an indoor swimming pool. During World War I, New Trier became a training ground for soldiers in 1918, and a fundraising drive by students led to the purchase of an ambulance. In 1928, New Trier began the adviser system, in which students maintain the same faculty adviser and fellow advisory students each year. Later, students sold tax warrants door to door to keep the school operating as the flow of property tax funds was disrupted by the Great Depression in the early 1930s. During World War II, students sold bonds to finance the purchase of a B-17 bomber (The Spirit of New Trier) and a B-29.

By 1962, student enrollment had increased to over 4,000. To accommodate this larger student body, voters approved a referendum for New Trier to purchase forty-six acres in Northfield through a bond issue. New Trier West opened for freshmen and sophomores in 1965. Then in 1967, the New Trier West campus was dedicated as a separate four-year high school. Attending the dedication ceremony were then Education Secretary John Gardner, U.S. Senator Charles Percy ('37), and Congressman Donald Rumsfeld ('50).

Enrollment reached an all-time peak of 6,558 students in 1972. By 1981, enrollment had dropped significantly. As a result, the school board decided to combine the East and West schools back into one, and convert the Northfield (west) buildings into a freshmen-only campus for the combined school. The resulting arrangement (freshmen at the west campus and upperclassmen at the east campus) lasted from September 1981 until June 1985, when enrollment had declined enough for the board to close and convert the entire Northfield campus to a community recreation space. The campus later housed a senior center, corporate dormitories, a public swimming pool, and an alternative high school program known as West Center Academy.

In 2001, the Northfield campus was reopened as a freshmen-only campus due to increasing enrollment. The decision to make it a freshmen-only campus was a compromise from a stalemate between plans to either increase capacity at the Winnetka campus or reopen the Northfield campus as a separate school. The Northfield campus also houses the administrative offices of the New Trier Township High School District. Today New Trier is considered one of the most elite public high schools in the country in academics, athletics, and the arts.

Master planning process

New Trier High School is in the midst of an extensive campus expansion and modification plan for its two campuses, called the "Master Planning Process". It began in 2007 with an appraisal of current facilities and will continue as a two-phase project aimed at assessing New Trier's physical campus and determining what changes should be implemented to keep it in line with educational needs.

The planning process will occur in two phases, each involving closed committee meetings and subsequent community meetings:
  • The first phase will be an investigation and Initial Analysis-Identification of Issues will involve process planning, due diligence, utilization studies, educational envisioning, and a summarized report.
  • The second phase should start in February 2008 and will include a series of workshops that define the facility expansion and to build community consensus. The latter part of the phase will include community presentations and feedback sessions.

On April 6, 2009, the School Board will review a Long Range Facility Plan for the district, including a recommendation for a Project One that will demolish and rebuild portions of the campus on its west and east sides.



New Trier graduated 98.5% of its senior class in 2007. The average class size is 1100. New Trier spends more than $15,000 yearly per student, well above the state average of $8,786. It has been included in the "Top Hundred" and "Most Successful" lists of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Parade magazine. The school was also identified as "quite possibly the best public school in America" by Town & Country, in a six-page article on New Trier that cited the "rich" and "demanding" curriculum, extensive arts and activities, strong participation in athletics, and faculty of the caliber typically found teaching at good colleges. Life also recognized New Trier as one of the best high schools in America with cover stories in 1950 and 1998.

Approximately 97% of the class of 2006 enrolled in college. Of these 999 students, 13 were National Merit Scholarship winners, 27 were National Merit Semifinalists, 25 were National Merit Finalists, and 75 received letters of commendation. For the class of 2006, the mean SAT verbal score was 620 and the mean SAT math score was 650. The mean ACT composite score was 26.8. According to an article by the University of Michiganmarker Department of Psychology, "New Trier students outperform their Illinois classmates on every conceivable measure."

New Trier ensembles or individuals have received 39 awards in the Downbeat Student Music Awards program. A record-setting 7 of these were achieved in 2007 alone. More than 1,100 students participate in the music department by presenting 24 concerts a year with almost all concerts webcast live on the internet at, live on local cable television, and in stereo on WNTHmarker radio.

New Trier was named a Grammy Signature School Gold recipient by the Grammy Foundation in 2000 for its commitment to music education, as well as being named the National Signature School in 2007 as the nation's top high school music program. In April 2006, the school's Concert Choir and Symphony Orchestra performed in New York Citymarker at Carnegie Hallmarker. In the summer of 2000, the school's Jazz Ensemble, Chamber Orchestra and Bluegrass Band enjoyed a successful two-week concert tour of Chinamarker.

Subject levels

New Trier has practiced subject-level grouping for over forty years. In this system, up to four different levels of difficulty are offered for each academic subject. Level 1 is considered a general level. Levels 2, 3 and 4 are college preparatory, accelerated, and honors levels, respectively. Level 5 was reserved for Advanced Placement classes and other college-level classes, such as multivariable calculus and linear algebra, but the level is being phased out beginning with the class of 2011. (All 5-level courses will be counted as 4-level.) Students may work at different levels in different subjects.

New Trier offers both unweighted and weighted grade point averages (GPA), and plus and minus grades are reported on transcripts. In calculating a weighted GPA, grades in a student's coursework are given different values depending on the level in which the grade is earned. For example, an A in a 2-level course is weighted at 4.00, while in levels 3 and 4 the values are 4.67 and 5.33, respectively (an "A" in a 5-level class is worth 5.67).

Since the late 1990s, the Board of Education has been examining how to encourage students to pursue a strong academic career without having them focus too much on their class rank. The first step taken by the administration was to eliminate the process of reporting class rank and to switch to decile ranking. Around the same time, the scale for weighted GPA calculations was modified, and plus and minus grades were implemented. In 2008, New Trier eliminated the reporting of ranks in class entirely.

Student life


Official logo of the New Trier Trevians

New Trier's mascot is the Trevian, named after soldiers from the city of Triermarker, Germanymarker during the Roman Empire. The Trevian mascot was chosen in recognition that the Grosse Pointe area of Wilmette was largely settled by immigrants from Trier, Germany. From 1901 to 1965, the school's sports teams were known as the "Terriers" and "Green Wave" During the 1948-49 school year they were renamed "Indians", reflecting the school's location in the Indian Hill section of Winnetka. When the new campus in the western part of the district opened in 1965, the new school's sports team was known as the "Cowboys". The year before the two schools merged in 1981, a number of student forums were held on both the East and West campuses, giving students the opportunity to provide feedback on potential school colors and nicknames. After a series of votes of the student body, the school adopted "Trevians" as a team name and green, blue, and gray as the school colors (East having previously been green and gray, while West was blue, gray, and white). During the 2004–2005 school year the mascot was named "Trevius Maximus" after conducting a poll among the students.

New Trier's biggest conference rival is Evanston Township High Schoolmarker. The rivalry between their football teams is one of the oldest uninterrupted sports rivalries in the history of high school sports, dating back over 100 years. Both schools compete in the Central Suburban League conference. The two annual basketball games New Trier plays against Evanston draw so many people that since 2001 they have been held at Northwestern Universitymarker's larger Welsh-Ryan Arenamarker. New Trier's biggest non-conference rival is Loyola Academy, which is located in Wilmette, just down the road from the Northfield campus.

With more than 120 state championships, New Trier High School currently has more than any other high school in Illinoismarker. New Trier also leads the state in both boys' and girls' state titles. The sports in which New Trier has the most IHSA-sponsored state titles are boys' swimming and diving (20), boys' tennis (18), girls' swimming and diving (10), boys' golf (9), girls' tennis (8), and girls' badminton (7). New Trier has also historically been strong at non-IHSA sponsored sports, including 15 Midwest championships in boys' fencing, ten state titles (Blackhawk Cup) in boys' ice hockey, seven state championships in boys' lacrosse, and six state titles in girls' ice hockey. However, New Trier has yet to win a state title in football or basketball (men's or women's). In May 2005, New Trier was ranked #12 in Sports Illustrated's list of the "Top 25 High School Sports Programs in America," and first in Illinois.

The athletic facilities include the Leslie Gates Gymnasium for basketball; two natatoriumsmarker for swimming, diving, and water polo; Phelps Field for lacrosse, encircled by the Doug Chase Track; the Robert Naughton Field at New Trier Stadium for football, soccer, and lacrosse; the Duke Childs Fields for baseball and softball; gyms for volleyball; courts for tennis; a wrestling room with four mats, and an indoor field house.


There are over 150 different extracurricular activities at New Trier. Although some date back decades (to the founding of the school) and have strong traditions, others are much newer and consist of only a few members.


Each of the four official class governments (Sophomore and Junior Steering Committees and the Freshman and Senior Senates) makes significant annual donations to various philanthropic causes throughout the community, state, country, and world. Every year since 2001, the Senior Senate has fully funded the construction of a house in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity of Lake County, Illinoismarker, a non-profit organization that fights homelessness and substandard housing. Members of the senior class also have the opportunity to help build the house. Many fund raisers contribute to this and various other causes over the course of the academic year. The New Trier Tsunami Relief Committee donated more than $18,000 to relief organizations which helped victims of the Indian Ocean Tsunamimarker in December 2004.

Frank Mantooth Jazz Festival

The jazz festival began in 1983 and takes place on the first Saturday of February. Each year, the event brings in around fifty high school and junior high jazz ensembles from all over the Great Lakes region and Canada to perform during the day. The high school groups attend clinics with respected jazz educators and composers from around the country. Seminars are also held throughout the day on improvisation, transcription, and becoming a professional musician. Smaller professional groups perform during the afternoon, while the evening concert features a professional jazz ensemble. Past groups have included the Buddy Rich Big Band, the Woody Herman Orchestra, the Count Basie Orchestra, the Artie Shaw Orchestra, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra, the Bob Mintzer Big Band, Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band, Maynard Ferguson, and Dizzy Gillespie. The festival was renamed after jazz musician, educator, and composer Frank Mantooth in 2004 when he died just days before that year's festival.


Newsweek ranking

The school was ranked #455 on Newsweek's 2007 list of the "Best High Schools in America". The school has been ranked higher in similar polls in the past. Many students and faculty raised objections to the list's technique of evaluating a school based on the ratio of AP tests taken to the number of students in the graduating class.

Drug use

New Trier was featured in the December 9, 1996, issue of Time in an article entitled "High Times at New Trier High." Among other claims, the article stated that "New Trier kids who smoke pot" were "by all accounts more than three-fifths of the student body," compared with national averages at the time closer to 33%.

In the days and weeks that followed publication, there was intense discussion in the community of the true scope of the drug problem among high school students. James Graff, the Time magazine writer who penned the story, was interviewed in WNTH's studio for the weekly student-run Night Talk program. On the air, Graff acknowledged that the "three-fifths" claim had been inadvertently rewritten during the editing process in such a way that seemed to imply that more than 60% of New Trier students may be regular users of marijuana, whereas that figure should have been clearly labeled as the portion of students who had ever used marijuana, including many who had used it only once or twice.

After the article was published, the school administration enhanced efforts to reduce drug use, including posting student-survey results. One step that was taken was putting up a poster claiming that most New Trier students do not smoke cigarettes; the poster featured a picture of a girl with the caption, "I'm one of them." The campaign was criticized for many reasons, one being that the girl was not a student but rather a model.

Former school superintendent Henry Bangser was quoted in the Time article as saying, "How could a school eradicate it? Schools have a responsibility to address the problem, but students didn't learn to do drugs here, and mostly they don't do it here."


According to official state of Illinois reports retrieved by the Family Taxpayers Network, 2005 salaries of more than $100,000 were received by 127 administrators, teachers and other staffers, all but 11 of whom were listed as working for 10 months of the year.

Former superintendent Bangser drew fire for his raises during the last five years he served the district; his salary in 2006 was $345,600.

Perception of inequality

Jonathan Kozol wrote a book called Savage Inequalities in 1991 that discussed the harsh conditions in the poorest school districts in the United States, making a correlation between inequality and racial separation and segregation. In the book, Kozol contrasted New Trier High School's spending per student to impoverished schools within Chicago.

In the summer of 2008, Illinois state senator James Meeks made a public plea for parents of Chicago public school students to assist their children in skipping the first day of school (September 2), and instead attend a protest at New Trier that involved attempting to mass enroll students there. The protest was over perceived inequities in school funding between schools in Chicago and New Trier.

Pertussis outbreak of 2006

In the late fall of the 2006–2007 school year, the school had an outbreak of pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough. There were approximately thirty confirmed cases among students and faculty members.

In December of that year, the Cook County Health Department offered a free vaccination clinic at the school. The school stated, "We are very pleased that 1,080 students and 416 staff members were immunized last week, and we are hopeful that this will prove to be a significant help in containing the outbreak of whooping cough."

Student breaks into school database

In February 2008, a student broke into the school computer database at New Trier, using his personal computer to obtain unauthorized access to the network. He took a faculty member's password and gained access to the student information system, obtaining grades for the then-current and last three graduating classes. The student also obtained ACT test scores for the class of 2008. The administration took disciplinary action against the student, and he was later arrested by Winnetka police.

In the movies

Being located in the well-known suburbs north of Chicago makes New Trier High School a common setting for films that center around the lives of typical American teenagers. Scenes from Home Alone, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and Uncle Buck were shot at the high school's freshman (West) campus in Northfield, and scenes from Sixteen Candles were shot outside the high school's upperclassman (East) campus in Winnetka.

Notable alumni


  1. High School District 203 Map
  2. Maeroff, Gene I. (June, 1986). "Let's Hear it for New Trier". Town and Country Monthly, p. 147.
  3. New Trier High School Jazz: About Us: Jazz Ensemble I
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  10. Requires subscription to view entire article.
  12. New Trier vs. CPS: Meeks plans protest July 28, 2008, Vivian Huang Chicago Sun Times
  13. Meeks Plans Student Protest On First Day Of School
  14. Police -
  15. Police -

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