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The History of
Joliet West High School

TIGERS / STEELMEN
 
        Year Opened                                                            Fall 1964 
 
         
           JT West Principals                                            Richard E. Terry                1964-66
                                                                                       Clarence Stallman               1966-68
                                                                                        Dr. John Vanko                  1969-71
              Leroy Leslie                        1972-73
              Dr. John Vanko                  1973-76
              Leroy Leslie                        1977-83
              Arlene Urquhart                1984-87
              Ronald O’Brien                  1988-93
              Dr. Richard Samlin           1994-97
              Dean Schultz                       1998-99
              Shirley Lang                       2000-02
                                                                                        Cheryl McCarthy               2003-09
                                               
            JT West Name                       Tigers 1964-93 / Steelmen 1994-2010 / Tigers 2011 - present
                                                             NOTE:  When the high school first opened, the students were known as Westmen.
                                                                             However, within a month the students voted to become Tigers.
            JT West School Colors         Black, Gold and White
            JT West Mascot                    Tiger 1964-93 / Steelman 1994-2010
            JT West Name/Mascot         Tigers - All teams beginning with 2011
            JT West Newspaper              Tiger Tales
            JT West Yearbook                Alpha Omega
           
                                                                                                           JT WEST LOYALTY
 
     Fight…Fight…
                                                                                                               Fight! Fight! Fight!
Go! West High
Go! Tigers!
Fight! Show the foe your might
Victory and glory bring
Every loyal son will sing!
Rah, Rah, Rah!
Black, gold and white
West is best, and that’s our battle cry
Loyalty and honor to the men of Joliet West High
T-T-T-I-G
E-E-E-R-S
T-I-G
E-R-S
TIGERS!
 
(Note: The Joliet West fight/loyalty song was composed by and lyrics written by Choir Director, Roy Johnson.)
 
In September of 1964, Joliet Township High School opened its West campus doors to students for the first time. The original construction of the building has now seen four additions. In 2003, the new cafeteria was added along with a new commons area, thirty-eight classrooms, an expanded library, modified office space, and remodeled science laboratories. The most exciting addition is the state-of-the-art West field house dedicated in opening ceremonies on October 28, 2008 enabling the district to facilitate the restoration of a separate sports program. The field house has the capability for a variety of sports activities. There are three basketball courts, three volleyball courts, and three tennis courts as well as room for track and field, hurdles, pole vaulting, long jump, and cages for batting practice.
 
Since the fall of 1993, the campuses of JT West and JT Central have shared a sports program as Steelmen when the teams were combined due to district budget constraints. However, during the 2008-2009 school year, the district began to divide the schools athletic programs starting with the freshmen teams. By the school year
of 2010-2011, all JT West teams will once again be known as the Tigers.
 
JT West offers a wide variety of sports for its students. Among the girls’ sports are cross country, golf, track and field, basketball, volleyball, softball, tennis, badminton, swimming, bowling, and gymnastics. Boy’s sports include baseball, basketball, football, tennis, volleyball, golf, track and field, cross country, swimming, hockey and wrestling.
 
There are many significant achievements in West campus sports history. The West “men of the mat” qualified a number of times for state finals and brought home several state wrestling championships. The Boys’ golf teams have been district champs and sectional champs. In boys’ tennis, the teams have taken district titles and have been awarded regional plaques.
 
When the IHSA offered a state championship in girls’ basketball, the West team was one of the first teams to win a first place trophy. The girls’ basketball teams have been regional champs, sectional champs and state champions. The track relay team has been a state champion. The girls’ cross country teams have been regional champs. The softball teams have been successful as regional champs, sectional champs and state champions. The girls’ tennis teams have claimed district championships. Volleyball teams have won as district champs and regional champs.
 
Over the years, the baseball teams have been successful as regional champs and have qualified for the state finals several times. The boys’ basketball team has won regional and sectional tournaments. On the gridiron in the late 60s, West’s football team won the Illini-8 conference titles twice. In subsequent years, teams have placed in both the Illini 8 Conference and the SICA West Conference.
 
Special Mention:
Ray Klootwyk arrived in Joliet in 1959 and he had a great three-year run with the Steelmen teams winning 25 straight games without a defeat, including 21 games in a row. In 1964, he moved to West to assume coaching duties and his winning ways followed. Coach Ray Klootwyk led the Tigers football team in the late‘60s. The teams won back-to-back Illini-8 conference titles in ’68 and ’69. Coach Klootwyk also known as “Tiger Ray” passed away at the early age of 50 after a battle with leukemia. As a tribute to the coach, the JT West stadium was named the Klootwyk Field. He was inducted into the Joliet Area Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.
With the coaching of Dale O’Connell, the girls’ softball team enjoyed an extraordinary season in 2000. They were victorious all the way to state and brought the state championship trophy home to West. 
 
The Cheerleaders and the Poms have always brought high recognition to the West campus for their exceptional routines. The Tiger Paws have won several world pom pon championships as well as taking home state championship titles numerous times. The dedicated sponsor for many years was Nicki Alander.
 
Academically, teams and individual students at West have been sectional and state champions in several specialty events including Drama, Speech, English, Math and Debate competition.
 
Looking through the collection of 44 West yearbooks, one will find references to the many clubs on the campus, i.e., Biology Club, History Club, Key Club, Math Club, Spanish Club, Latin Club, French Club, German Club, Lettermen’s Club, Physics Club, Earth Science Club, Speech Activities Club, Amateur Radio Club, Ballet Club, Art Club, Chess Club, Boosters Club, N.C.O.’s Club, Drama Club, and Modern Dance Club.
 
Campus organizations have included Future Teachers of America, Future Nurses of America, Future Farmers of America, TriHi Y, Future Homemakers of America, National Thespians, ROTC, National Honor Society, ETIA (Ethnic Teens in Acton), and Student Council. Many of the organizations and clubs still exist on campus today.
 
Outstanding music programs have been a tradition at JT West for nearly 50 years. Many graduates have continued on to very successful careers in the performing arts due to their initial participation in the West choirs and bands.
 
The Marching Tigers, the high school’s marching band, and the musicianship of the West Jazz Band have received many top honors in state and national contests as well as at a variety of music festivals. There have been five band directors at West; Arthur D. Katterjohn, 1964-67; Dean H. Sayles, 1967-90; I.V. Foster, 1990-92, and Ted Lega, 1992-93. Kevin T. Carroll, 1993-present, continues the winning tradition of producing an outstanding West band program.
 
The choir music department is under the leadership of its present director,
Tim DeBoer, who joined the faculty in 2003. In 2004, West began an opera scenes program, which is nearly unprecedented among high schools. Jeffrey Ray, West ’87 alumnus, voice teacher, and international opera star was instrumental in guiding the program. West became the first high school to tackle light opera when the students presented “Too Many Sopranos” in 2008. The students have performed scenes from “The Magic Flute,” “The Marriage of Figaro,” “Carmen,” “LaBoheme, “Die Fledermaus, and “Tales of Hoffman.”
 
Over the past 44 years, the West choirs have consistently received high marks in their performances. In 2007 and 2008, the Concert Choir received high ratings in choral contests including “Best Bass Section” both years. On the roster of West’s former choral directors are Sandra Thompson, Nancy Cardwell, Arlyne Nuti, and Roy Johnson.
 
Special Mention:
Roy Johnson came to the district in 1960 and became the West Choir Director in 1964. He was described as a composer, arranger, teacher, vocalist and an accomplished musician with a beautiful tenor voice who strengthened the traditions of quality choral music. He has several titles published in the West choral library. He was a one-of-a-kind music man and beloved by the students.
 
Roy conducted music, directed the choirs and staged lavish school musical productions such as “The Mikado,” “West Side Story,” “South Pacific,” and “Lil Abner.” In all, he directed 34 musicals for both JT West and Joliet Junior College. His West choirs won 22 state championships. Roy passed away in 2000 at the age of 77.
 
The High School Orchestra was under the leadership of Peter Labella for many years. The talented musicians were students from the three campuses of Central, East and West. Mr. Labella retired in the early 1980s. Mr. Ivy Foster directed the orchestra for a few years at West as well as Julie Ashcraft during the late 80s and early 90s. Following Ashcraft, Kevin Carroll, the present West band director, took the helm from 1995-2000. In the fall of 2000, Pamela (Burd) Breuning was hired as full time Orchestra director by the district. Breuning retired in 2007. Peter Lipari currently directs the Orchestra.
 
Special Mention:
Don Hopkins came to JTHS in 1962 and moved to JT West when it opened in 1964 as a Physics Teacher and Chairman of the Science Department until 1981. H then chaired the combined Math and Science Departments until 1983. His teaching load at West included Physics, Chemistry, Earth Science, and Nuclear Science. Affectionately known as “Hop,” he was a true friend to countless students, a mentor to young teachers, and a cheerleader and tireless worker for all of JT West activities.
 
Described in a West yearbook as “Santa Claus with a crew cut,” over the years he sponsored the Science Clubs, Science Fairs, Science Teams, Math Teams, and the Junior Class. “Hop” was also responsible for starting many new clubs, organizations and programs such as SADD, Student Council, Pep Club, and the Tiger Stats Team. As Student Activities Director, he announced all home football games, basketball games and track meets. In addition, he was the Prom Advisor/Sponsor, supervised afternoon co-ed volleyball, led the Tiger Follies, the All-School Talent Show, was the emcee at all-school assemblies, chaperoned all school dances, helped organize the homecoming parades and judge the floats.
 
“Hop” retired in 1991; however, he is still known by former colleagues, students, and administrators as the personification of school spirit! 
 
JT West athletes included in the naming of the “100 Athletes of the Century ” as part of the centennial activities celebrated by District 204 in 2001 are the following:
 
’98       Aaron Aguire                                   All-state soccer – All-Midwest
’80       Cathy Boswell                                 Three-time All-State Basketball
                                                                         ’84 Olympic Gold Medallist
’89       Nikki Brandolino                           State Champion Bowling
’69       Bob Burris                                       All-State Football
’74       John Cabrera                                   State Champion Wrestling
’72       Mel Carson                                      State Champion Wrestling
’91       Terry Collins                                   State Champion Hurdles
                                                                         Final 4 Basketball Oklahoma State University
’67       Mike Cookas                                    All-Conference Baseball/Football/Wrestling
’82       Chris Crowther                               State Champion 200 & 400 Hurdles
                                                                          4th in State Cross Country
’80       Donna Decker                                   State Champion Swimming 100-yard freestyle
’78       Jeff Dillman                                      State Champion Wrestling
                                                                          Two-time National Wrestling Champion at
                                                                          Eastern Illinois University
                                                                          Gold Medallist at Pan American Games
’90       Jon Foskett                                        State Champion Pole Vault
’70       Jarrett Hubbard                               State Champion Wrestling
                                                                          Two-time NCAA Wrestling Champion at
                                                                          University of Michigan /Four-time All American
                                                                          & Wolverine Athlete of the Year
’88       Steve Kelly                                        State Champion 100 and 400-yard Dash
’75       Cindy Kontos                                    Named Joliet’s No. 1 Female Bowler
’72       George Kontos                                 Professional Bowler and American Bowling
                                                                          Congress World Champion
’68       Lorin Lynch                                      All-State Football, All-conference Baseball
                                                                          First player named All-State for new school
                                                                          Named MVP Football & Baseball
                                                                          Named ’68 “West Athlete of the Year”/
                                                                          University of Iowa Football
’94       Scott Malinowksi                            All-State Baseball
’77       Scott Martin                                     All-state Basketball /University of Utah
                                                                          Basketball
’74       Dwayne McCallum                          State Champion Wrestling
’77       Greg McCallum                               State Champion Wrestling
’79       Dane Nasenbenny                              State Champion Wrestling
’86       Steve Parris                                       Major league pitcher for eight seasons /
Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds, Toronto Blue Jays / Tampa   Bay Devil Rays
’78       Curt Phelps                                        State Champion Wrestling
’77       Curt Reed                                           All-State Baseball / Triple A Minor League with
Chicago White Sox
’80       Jeff Reed                                             All-State Baseball / Major League Catcher with
Minnesota Twins, Montreal Expos, Cincinnati Reds, San Francisco  Giants, Colorado Rockies,
Chicago Cubs
’84       Brent Snyder                                     All-state Football / All-conference Basketball
                                                                           Pro Football with the Chicago Bears
’99       Heather B. Suca                                All-state Softball / Softball at Indiana University
’81       Todd Sterr                                          State Champion Wrestling
’82       Carol Wiegand                                  State Champion Swimming 100-yard Backstroke
                                                                           100-yard Butterfly
’91       Jackie Williams                                All-State Basketball
’72       Gary Woolford                                  Football, Wrestling / State Champion High
Hurdles / NFL Football with N.Y. Giants
 
NOTE: In addition to the above athletes, many West athletes were also named to the roster of “Distinguished Athletes of the Century” in 2001.
 
JT West athletes inducted into the Joliet Area Sports Hall of Fame:
·        2003 Hall of Fame Class   Cathy Boswell ‘80
·        2005 Hall of Fame Class   Jarrett Hubbard ‘70
·        2008 Hall of Fame Class   Chris Crowther ‘82
·        2008 Hall of Fame Class   Jeff Reed ‘80
 
 
SPOTLIGHT ON WEST ALUMNI:
 
’65       Ford C. June III (Chet)                                   Attorney / President of the Board of
Education District 204
’67       Skip Griparis                                                   Jazz musician / Comedian / Actor
                                                                                          Recording Artist / Songwriter
                                                                                          Films / Television / Stage
’68       Mike McLaren                                                 Trial Attorney / Actor /Film roles include
The Firm and A Time to Kill
’72       Charlie Adams                                                 Professional Musician / Drummer for
Yanni   / Recording Artist
’75       Jeff Krieger                                                      Graduate of Yale School of
Music /Principal cellist with the
Hartford Symphony Orchestra
’75       Mark Masek                                                      Author of “Hollywood Remains to Be
Seen: A Guide to the Movie Stars’ Final
Homes”
’76       Thomas L. Perkins                                           U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Central District
                                                                                           Illinois
’78       Paul Dillon                                                        Professional actor / film & television
producer
’78       Davenia “Deide” McFadden                         Professional Actress / Films / Television
’79       Laura Soltis                                                      Professional Actress / Vocalist / Stage &
Television
’80       Sharon Graves                                                  Professional Broadcasting Meteorologist
’81       Jimmie Chamberlin                                        Professional Musician / Drummer for the
“Smashing Pumpkins”
‘84       Judie Bell                                                          Country singer/songwriter
’84       Andy Dick                                                          Professional Actor / Offbeat Comedian /
Television / Films
’85       John Barrowman                                             Professional Actor / Films / Stage &
                                                                                          Television / Recording Artist
’87       Mark Carlson                                                   Major League Umpire
’87       Stephanie Ferguson                                        Senior Engineer at Kraft Foods/Holds her
own U.S. patent on a baked snack chip design    process she  invented
’87       Jeffrey Ray                                                        International Opera Singer / Vocal Coach
’88       Anthony Rapp                                                   Professional Actor / Stage / Created the
role of the narrator in the Broadway
musical “Rent”
’90       Amy Varsek                                                       Dog sledding across Canada’s Northwest
                                                                                          Territories as part of Arctic Quest
Mission
’94       Shawn Smith                                                     Creator of Nintendo DS video game
“Ninjatown” and of Shawnimals toy
product line
‘95       Sonya Gavankar                                               1997 Miss District of Columbia in Miss
America Pageant / TV Journalist / Public Relations Executive
’95       Dayna Schoffstoll                                             Aerospace Engineer with NASA
’96       Jennifer Maiotti                                              Senior documentary producer, writer
                                                                                          for National Geographics and Discovery
                                                                                          Channel 
’96       Nicole M. Switzer                                            Professional actress / National Touring Company
                                                                                          of “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”
’98       Janina Gavankar                                              Professional Actress / Television / Films
’09       Emily Ziesmer                                                  Creator of West’s newest Tiger logo
 
 
ONE FINAL NOTE:
There is more than nostalgia at work here. The West students of today share more than the hallways, classrooms, lockers and lunchrooms with all the West alumni, they also share the potential for success. It is clear that JT West is no ordinary high school.
 
Joliet Township High School District 204
300 Caterpillar Drive, Joliet, Illinois, 60436|Get Directions
T. 815-727-6970|F. 815-727-1277|E. info@jths.org
 
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