About Danville High School

Home of the Vikings

School Colors: Maroon and White Athletic Conference: Big 12
Main Telephone: 217-444-1500
Principal's Office Fax: 217-444-1590
202 E. Fairchild St.
Danville, IL 61832

DHS Registrar's Office
Mission and Goals DHS Today
DHS History Principals of DHS
School Song Photos From the Past
DHS Facts: Did You Know?

Our Mission and Vision:

Danville High School promotes school success and nurtures lifelong learners through RIGOR, RELEVANCE and RELATIONSHIPS.

According to individual potential, each student will:

  • Read critically and with understanding
  • Communicate effectively in speech and writing
  • Understand natural phenomena, their causes and effects
  • Solve problems efficiently using mathematics and logic
  • Appreciate the past for its potential to improve the future
  • Understand the rights and responsibilities of citizenship
  • Develop skills and qualities that enhance employability
  • Express themselves creatively and respond to the creative expression of others
  • Treat others with empathy and respect
  • Work cooperatively with others
  • Exhibit personal fitness, both physical and emotional
  • Set personal goals and develop plans to achieve them
  • Recognize the need for new knowledge and be able to seek it
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Danville High School Today

Danville High School was founded in 1870 with a staff of two. Today it is staffed by a faculty and support staff of 200, approximately 1600 students are served in grades 9-12. Students are offered a variety of courses and extracurricular activities as well as the latest technology. Music, sports, and extracurricular successes of the school are part of the DHS tradition. One of the more innovative and exciting developments in secondary education today is the school-within-a-school concept—small learning communities concentrating on specific learning community goals. These houses afford the students many benefits such as student-centered instruction, a concentrated curriculum designed to meet individual needs, and a more personal relationship with teachers. At DHS, we are fortunate to have our "houses" or small learning communities. 

Freshman House, focusing on a positive start to high school with additional opportunities for coursework and an emphasis on making good decisions early in a student’s career.

Danville New Tech High affiliated with the New Tech Network utilizing project-based learning.

The 1,300 students of Danville High School represent a diversity of interests and cultures, a strength throughout the Danville community. Enhancement activities include learning assistance programs for mainstreamed special education students, honors classes for gifted students, advanced placement (AP) classes, and ESL (English as a second language) classes. Technology advancements challenge Danville District 118 to balance computer equipment among the schools for use as teaching tools in the classroom.

New track dedicated: A rainy afternoon could not diminish the enthusiasm and pride as members of the community gathered for the dedication of our new track on Tuesday, November 14, 2007. Dwight Stones, Olympic medallist and world record holder in the high jump, addressed the crowd. The new track will allow Danville students to host home track meets for the first time in over 20 years. The track represents a joint effort between Danville schools and the community. See more.

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Danville High School History

Yeomans, Shedd & LeSeure Hardware StoreDanville High School began with the most humble of origins in a spare room over the Yeomans, Shedd, & LeSeure Hardware Store at 65 E. Main in September, 1870. There is some question whether it actually began as a public school as we know it today. Danville High School was at first founded without the help of the community and soon began to grow with it. The sole member of the first faculty was Mrs. Belle Spillman, who taught the first high school lesson in Danville, Illinois. Her husband, who died in 1867, had taught at one of the seminaries that preceded the creation of Danville High School. In the days after the Civil War, the typical youth would attend school no longer than his/her 13th or 14th year. The high school began in response to the desire of some Danville families who wanted more advanced public education locally.

Sixteen pupils were there for roll call on that first day of school in September, 1870, above the Yeomans, Shedd, & LeSeure Hardware Store. These charter DHS students, five boys and 11 girls, were as follows: Augusta Clark, Eudora Denny, Luella English, Joseph Force, Lizzie Fillinger, William Gurley, Lucy Harmon, Charles Hollaway, Delilah Jones, Lottie Jones, Laura Lamon, Joseph O’Neal, Fronia Roberts, Charity Sanders, Edwin Smith, and Mary Webster. Even with the small faculty and student body, such subjects as Greek, Mental Philosophy, Science of Wealth, Analysis, and Astronomy were offered. The school year was divided into three terms with a week of vacation between trimesters. Three of these original 16 students, Laura Lamon, Delilah Jones, and Mary Webster, became the first three graduates of Danville High School at its first commencement held June 14, 1872. One of them, Laura Lamon, resided in the Lamon House, which is now situated at Lincoln Park as a museum. Her grandfather, Dan Beckwith, and her great-uncle, Amos Williams, were among Danville’s founders and its first pioneers.First Washington School, DHS' home 1872-1888

In 1872, Danville High School moved to rooms on the third floor of the first Washington School, located on the south end of the city block surrounded by Gilbert, Madison, Pine, and Seminary Streets. Danville High School remained at this location for 16 years. Enrollment rose and fell, reaching 152 in 1876, but dropping to 80 in 1879. Principal Silas Gillan (1879-1886) required each student to spell every word correctly from a prepared list in order to graduate. By the late 1880’s, the enrollment had increased to such an extent that students were forced out into the halls. Due to the increasing enrollment, the school board constructed the first Danville High School building in 1888 just north of the first Washington School; the first DHS fronted Seminary Street, as well as Gilbert and Pine Streets. The class of 1888 was the last class to attend school in the old Washington School. Its commencement was held on Thursday evening, June 7, 1888, at the Grand Opera House, now the Fischer Theater. The class history of the class of 1888 was found and returned to DHS in 1989 by the granddaughter of Grace Haggard Rearick who was the secretary of that class. This history, which Grace Haggard read at the graduation ceremony, relates that after vacations that the students, “…returned gladly to the familiar old school room with many better resolves for better improvement in the future. Alas, how soon to be broken? And this we have continued year after year, gradually advancing and can now say of the dear old school we are leaving, ‘With all thy faults, I love thee still.’” Grace Haggard later married George Rearick who became mayor of Danville. Grace Haggard Rearick died in 1965, aged 95 years of age. Her class history was found by her granddaughter, Martha Rearick, while housecleaning and was donated to DHS in 1989.

First DHS (1888-1924), Gilbert at Seminary In the first high school, music instruction began with a choir and the formation of a 16-piece orchestra. By 1898, 273 students were enrolled at DHS, which rose to 340 in 1906. In 1907, the second Washington School was built south of the first DHS, replacing the first school of that name. The second Washington School, which stood until 1980, housed many DHS classes as the first high school became even more crowded as the enrollment increased; its cornerstone now sits on the west campus of the current Danville High School. In 1912, DHS had the largest graduating class until that date – 62 students. The class of 1912 was the first to wear caps and gowns and to leave a class gift. That year, the gift was a massive oak desk for the study room assembly. This desk, inscribed with “Class of 1912,” is presently located in the library at DHS. In September, 1915, a student named John Scopes entered DHS as a 15-year-old freshman and attended one year before moving from the area. John Scopes later became well known as the teacher who challenged the Tennessee state law by teaching evolution at Dayton (TN) High School; his story is memorialized in the novel, Inherit the Wind.

By 1916, the old high school was so crowded that the entire high school building was full in addition to the basement and its tar paper annex, which was dubbed “The Cow Shed” by the students. By this date, the entire first floor of the new Washington School was used for high school instruction. These conditions remained unbearable from 1915 to May, 1923, when a large oval stone fell from the top of the old DHS building on to the ground. The incident prompted the school board to finally build a new DHS and replace the “old high school”. While hopelessly too small, the old high school was only 36 years old when vacated in 1924.Current DHS under construction, 1924; Fairchild entrance with interurban tracks in front

Mr. I. P. Gedney, a Chicago contractor, was employed to construct the new high school for the then staggering sum of one million dollars. The new DHS received its early nickname, “The Million Dollar School,” by local citizens. The new DHS was, at the time of its construction, one of the finest high school buildings in the state and in this part of the nation. The new Danville High School was ready for the first day of school in September, 1924. Mr. Gedney went broke building DHS. He sold all of his equipment here and returned to Chicago penniless. Since 1924, the adolescents as well as the community of Danville. have utilized the wonderful facility that he constructed.

DHS opening day, September 1924Danville High School remains in the facility built in 1924. Additions and modifications have occurred since 1924 to accommodate new programs and innovations – business applications, driver’s education, computer instruction, music performance, etc. As the music program grew, additions were made to house instrumental programs. In 1939, the bleachers in the gym were switched from the east and west walls to the north and south walls; classroom and athletic offices were also added at this time. In 1973, the four-story addition onto the Fairchild side of DHS provided for new art rooms, science laboratories, library areas, and English classrooms; not long after its construction, the community regretted the loss of the former façade of DHS. In 1991, the building was renovated and significantly increased in size. Aerial view of Danville High School, 1950sThat year the industrial education building was torn down and a large addition was built onto the south end of the building including a new entrance that included a facsimile of the original school clock over its door, music classrooms, computer labs, industrial technology rooms, new general classrooms, as well as a spacious field house to handle indoor meets as well as the many practices for both boys and girls teams.

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Principals of DHS
Belle Spillman
Cornelia Branch 1874-1876
Annie Hoff 1876-1878
M. A. Lapham 1878-1879
Silas Y. Gillan 1879-1886
E. C. Williams 1886-1887
Lawrence A. McLauth 1887-1891
Stratton B. Brooks 1891-1892
S. A. D. Harry 1892-1897
B. D. Billinghurst 1897-1900
B. A. Sweet 1900-1902
Edwin D. Martin 1902-1905
Zora Mayo Smith 1905-1909
Charles E. Lawyer
A. W. Smalley 1912-1916
William C. Baer 1916-1930
John E. Wakeley 1930-1934
Russell M. Duffin 1935-1948
E. D. Milhon 1948-1967
Richard L. Burrer 1967-1969
Arthur F. Mathisen 1969-1980
Blaine E. Bonynge 1980-1990
Ellen S. Russell
Carol A. Stack 1994-1996
Nanette L. Mellen 1996-2001
Mark Denman 2001-2004
Gail Garner 2004-2006
Marla Bauerle-Hill 2006-2008
Mark A. Neil 2008-2013
Phil Cox 2013-2015
Kimberly Norton 2015-2019
Tracy Cherry 2019-Present 

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School Songs

Click here to hear our Fight Song, as sung by the 1950 DHS chorus. The chorus was conducted by Miss Pansy Legg, DHS choral teacher from 1929-1958.

Cheer Song:

Hail, Hail the gang's all here
All out for Danville High.
So let's join in a cheer
while we're all gathered here.
Cheer for old Danville High.
We are ready to fight for the Maroon and White
For dear old Danville High,
For her honor and fame,
And her glorious name,
We will stand every loyal fan.

Fight Song:

So fight Danville, fight for Danville High
Spread fame and honor far and near,
Plunge, plunge, on to victory.
Cheer the team without a peer.
So fight for the old Maroon and White.
We're ever loyal to you.
Fight!!! Fight!!!
Cheer with all your might.
To old DHS be ever true.

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Photos From the Past
Pictures from old Danville High School yearbooks, the Medley, are featured in the links below. Click on a year to see not only pictures that reflect that year, but also advertising that reflects the era and scenes of Danville at the time. (not working right now)
1906 1916 1926 1936 1946 1956
1966 1976 1986 1996 2006  
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DHS Facts - Did You Know?
  • The school colors, maroon and white, were used as early as 1906, but no one remembers why these colors were chosen. When the Big 12 formed, the conference had to approve both Danville and Champaign having the same colors. Both schools were also known as the Maroons at that time.
  • The DHS gym floor used to be positioned in the other direction (north to south). In 1939, the gym was enlarged and the bleachers were moved to the north and south walls. If you look carefully near where the old WDAN booth is located, a portion of the 1924 bleachers remain at the top of the section.
  • DHS was first known as the Maroons, then for short periods of time, the basketball team was called the Silver Streaks. In 1960, DHS's nickname became the Vikings. An effort to change the colors from maroon and white to light blue and white in the 1960s was unsuccessful and the school returned to its original colors.
  • Art Mathisen, DHS's long-time principal (1969 to 1980), was a member of the famed University of Illinois basketball team, the Whiz Kids, in the early 1940s.
  • Beginning in the 1920s and continuing for several decades, tickets for all athletic events were printed by DHS students in the manual arts classes.
  • Cotton Whitlock, Class of 1924, was the first DHS student to compete in the Olympics. His event was the decathlon in the 1928 Olympics.
  • Odin, the Viking, and his trailer were purchased in 1971 by Coach Shebby and the athletic department for $3,000. Repainted in 2002, Odin currently holds court on the balcony in the gymnasium.
  • The DHS Fight song was written in 1920 by Mr. G. W. Patrick, DHS band director. The words were composed by a committee chaired by Miss Gertrude Payne, teacher, and several students including Lucille and Lorene Esslinger, John Kieran, and others. They completed the words in one evening in 1921.
  • The DHS Cheer Song has the same melody was Harry L. Watson's, "Khaki Bill's March," which was composed during World War I. DHS adapted the words of our cheer song to match those of Illinois Wesleyan University—the only difference being Danville High was substituted for Wesleyan and maroon and white took the place of green and white.
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