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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
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
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
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
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.