The first public school in Rantoul was conducted during the winter months of 1857-1858. In the fall of 1859, the first public school building was built at the corner of Congress and Century. Eight years later, a new school house was built between Congress and Champaign Avenues on Frederick St. The original four classroom building had to be expanded several times as the student enrollment increased. In 1910, there was a total of 10 classrooms serving all grades. That building remained that way until it was destroyed in a fire in 1919.
Following the fire, Rantoul Township High School was established in 1920, encompassing 48 sections of land and seven grade schools. Around this same time, Chanute Field was developed to help train World War I pilots. After the war, Rantoul fought to keep Chanute Air Force Base with Congress finally approving to keep the Base in Rantoul in 1936. During the 1940’s and 1950’s, Rantoul Township High School began to see a rapid rise in enrollment. The number of students grew from 297 in 1942 to 784 in 1960. This growth continued into the mid 1970’s, with enrollment exploding to 1677 students in 1975. During the late 1970’s and through the 1980’s, enrollment steadily declined. In the early 1990’s, Chanute Air Force Base was closed which caused a sharp decrease in the number of students. Since that time, enrollment has held steady around 800 students.
One of the most notable changes at Rantoul Township High School since the closing of the Chanute Air Force Base has been the change in student demographics. A student body that had previously been predominantly white has become much more diverse over the past twenty years.
In the mid 1990’s, Rantoul Township High School adopted the eight-block schedule. Under this scheduling type, students went to four classes on one day and their other four classes on the next day. Each class was eighty-four minutes long. This type of schedule greatly increased the number of electives that students could take. While the schedule has changed over the years, the school district still prides itself on being able to offer a very diverse curriculum to the student body. In addition to the number of Advanced Placement and Dual Credit options offered, Rantoul Township High School has one of the strongest Career and Technical Educational programs in the area.
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