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Currently serving 1,100 students from 60 Chicago-area parishes, Good Counsel is a four-year comprehensive high school for girls located on the northeast corner of Pulaski and Peterson avenues. While the present faculty numbers 30 lay and 30 Religious, when the school was established in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1911, it had just 12 students taught by Sister Mary Seraphim Jankowski and two other members of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Felix of Cantalice.

The purpose of the school when it was originally founded was ft educate candidates for the Felician Sisters. Its curriculum was flexihir and modeled after the course of studies taught at the seminary of th Felician Sisters in Detroit and included all subjects which Father Joseph Dombrowski and Mother Mary Cajetan Jankiewicz felt the girls needed to know if they were to be adequate educators in the future. And so that the original students of Good Counsel would be prepared for the more practical spects of classroom management, they were also tutored in electrical work, plumbing, leatherwork, and carpentry.

In 1927, when the Felician Sisters transferred their provincial motherhouse to the Peterson Estate in Chicago which provided them with much-needed space on its 33-acre grounds, the school was located in the east wing of the new four-story building. Sister Mary Amancia Mioduszewska, C.S.S.F., the school's first Chicago principal, welcomed 104 resident and day students to the new building which she staffed with 10 Religious. The school remained both a commuter and boarding school until 1948 when the boarding facilities were closed. Its newly stated purpose was to "train Catholic women whose lives would be guided by religious principles and to impart a broad general culture."

Throughout the 1930s, a basic college preparatory program of studies was offered to all students. The school's first lay instructors were added to the staff in the areas of home economics and music, and the Good Counsel School of Music was established under the direction of Mr. A.J. Prochaska, a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Mr. F. Kalitzky of the Chicago Civic Orchestra. Within eight months of its organization the school's fledgling band won first place at the Chicago School Band Contest.

Sister Mary Angela Ziemba, the school's second principal, further broadened the curriculum. Almost since its inception, Good Counsel stressed the importance of its motto, "Not for school, but for life," and insisted that its students, who quite literally came from around the country, take everything they learned and apply it to their lives. Hence after school activities were stressed as much as were classroom lectures. The school's first newspaper, the Counselia, was published November 16, 1930; by then the school's annual yearbook had become a tradition.

To aid them in their studies, students had access to the general and departmental libraries in the new building which housed over 12,000 volumes, Attesting to its academic excellence, the school was affiliated from its inception with the Catholic University of America. In January of 1930 it was accredited by the University of Illinois, and in March of 1931 it became a member of the North Central Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges. At that time, it was the only Catholic high school in Chicago which had achieved such affiliation so early in its academic life.

In the late 1930s and early 1950s, under the principalship of Sister Mary Albensia Witucki, C.S.S.F., the school began to offer two curricula-general (which later was called business) and college preparatory and also increased its range of electives within the areas of home economics, commerce, music, and art.

As Good Counsel High School approached its silver anniversary, it attracted girls from 43 archdiocesan parishes and four states-Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Texas. Its curriculum, under the direction of Sister Mary Hermana Romanoska, C.S.S.F., was constantly being reevaluated.

During the 1950s as the Felician Sisters celebrated their centennial and Sister Mary Simplicissima Jakubek, C.S.S.F., assumed principalship, the school became increasingly involved in outside activities and increasingly invited more people from the outside to participate in the school's program. In 1955, the "Counselites' Mothers Club" was formed and four years later, the fathers club. By this time, it was evident that the oncespacious building was insufficient for ever growing enrollment. So in 1955, the first funds were collected towards the building of a new school, and the first of many fund-raising drives was held as Good Counsel Students sold candy to build a structure they would never get to use.

As its academic excellence was increasingly recognized by the community at large, Good Counsel became the first Catholic High School to represent the Billy Caldwell Legion Post Auxiliary at the annual Girls State convention sponsored by the American Legion. Bell Telephone took an active hand in training Good Counsel's future secretaries by offering the school the use of 26 teletrainers in 1956, and home nursing was introduced as part of the regular home management course. Good Counsel's school publications received an "All-Catholic" rating from the Catholic School Press Association, an honor they were to win every successive year during the life of that organization.

In 1951-58, when Sister Stella Marie Benben (Ezechiela) was appointed principal, the school began a program of continual expansion, physically and academically. Groundbreaking for the present Good Counsel High School building took place on June 23, 1963, by which time 1945 students had graduated from 3800 Peterson Avenue.

The cornerstone for the new building at 3900 Peterson was laid November 19, 1965. Dedication of the new school took place on May I, 1966, and over 900 visitors saw the 33 classrooms, laboratories, library, music and art rooms, combined gym-auditorium, cafeteria, audio-visual room, and student and faculty lounges which had been designed by the Fehcian Sisters working with architects Pirola and Erbach. From an enrollment of 533 students from 51 parishes taught by 26 teachers, the school jumped to a then record enrollment of 965 students with 46 teachers.

In 1967, along with a new principal, Sister Mary Margaret Narloch (Leonilda), C.S.S.F., new student and Faculty handbooks were introduced, and the school became one of the first in the country to utilize a modified modular system of scheduling which remains in effect. The school also purchased the first of its video equipment which has been continually updated, and showed that it recognized the importance of mass media by offering its first film education course.

As the student unrest of the late sixties made itself felt on campuses across the country, Good Counsel revised its discipline code, established a discipline review board, and formed a student association to aid in maintaining order in the school. For the first time, Good Counsel students were able to take advanced courses for college credit, and resource rooms were set up in various areas of the school.

Good Counsel remained in the mainstream of educational reform in the 1970s, innovating to meet the needs of its students. Team teaching was introduced in the science and English departments, independent studies were initiated for highly motivated students, Good counsel was hooked up to the Univac computer at Illinois Institute of Technology through a teletype connection and a special two-week "crash course program" was introduced during the last two weeks of the regular school year.

Under Sister Mary Ramona Dombrowski, C.S.S.F.,school and family counselling services were expanded; semester courses were introduced for seniors and juniors; fine arts and humanities offerings were increased; optional programs in self-defense, first aid, speed-reading, and remedial reading were offered.

As Good Counsel moves into the 1980s with the current administrator, Sister Mary Jendras (Martinez), C.S.S.F., the school is reaching out to anticipate future societal changes, offering more honors courses for students of high academic ability and more basic courses for students whose background in specific areas is weak. Its three basic communities-the Catholic-Christian faith community, the social community, and the educational community-are integrated through close relationships between parents, teachers, and students. One hundred and sixteen course offerings, 24 clubs, and numerous other activities are currently offered at Good Counsel.

From "A History of the Offices, Agencies, and the Institutions of the Archdiocese of Chicago" - 1981

Reprinted with the permission of the Chicago Archdiocese.

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