Glenbrook North High School

From Academic Kids

Glenbrook North High School is located in Northbrook, Illinois, a suburb north of Chicago. The school is noted for its academic success and in 2003 it received national attention over a hazing incident. Glenbrook North High School belongs to Northfield Township High School District 225 along with its sister high school, Glenbrook South High School.


Overview and history

Approximately 2,000 students attend Glenbrook North High School (grades 9-12) each year. The school celebrated its 50th anniversary during the 2003-2004 academic year. The school was built to serve the residents of the towns of Northbrook and Glenview. Since there was not a local high school at the time, students often had to pay to attend classes in other areas. In 1962, due to overcrowding, its sister school Glenbrook South High School was built. Most Glenbrook North High School students go on to attend college (usually over 95% of graduates each year).

Presidential visit

In 1997 President Bill Clinton traveled to Glenbrook North High School and spoke on the importance of a internationally competitive American educational system. At the time Glenbrook North High School students were participating in an international mathematics and science study sponsored by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement. President Clinton also made reference to the students, who achieved very high scores in the study, in his 1997 State of the Union speech.

Other notable events

Besides academic success, Glenbrook North High School has received attention for other circumstances as well.

  • In 1986, motion picture director and writer John Hughes, a 1968 graduate of Glenbrook North High School, used the campus for location shooting of the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off. A familiar scene of the campus is when Ferris Bueller, played by Matthew Broderick, picks up Sloane Peterson, played by Mia Sara. The scene was shot in front of the Glenbrook North High School performing arts building. While some think the 1985 film The Breakfast Club was also filmed inside the school, it, as well as interior shots for Ferris, was filmed at Maine North High School.
  • During the summer of 2001, Glenbrook North High School made a brief appearance in the news. In a July 6th letter to parents of Glenbrook North High School students from school officials, it was announced a Glenbrook North High School science teacher would undergo sexual reassignment surgery. The female teacher at the time had been teaching at the school for seven years. The letter stated the teacher would be returning as a male in the fall. Realizing the controversy of the issue, school officials deemed the matter to be a personal one and vowed not to allow it to interfere with classroom activities. School administrators, parents and students maintained an atmosphere of respect which allowed the teacher to return to work with few difficulties.

Hazing incident

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Images of the Glenbrook North hazing incident were broadcast worldwide

In May 2003 Glenbrook North High School found itself in one of the biggest challenges it has ever faced. An off-campus, non-school sanctioned event that turned into a major hazing incident created international attention.

The event was the annual "powder-puff" girls football game between a group of juniors and seniors. First begun as a fundraiser in 1977, the on-campus game was discontinued in 1980 because it was getting too rowdy. The annual game then went underground. School officials were usually able to break it up when they found out the date and time it was to be played.

The senior students who organized the 2003 game were able to keep the time and location secret, such a secret that some participants did not know when it would be held until about half an hour before it began. The invited junior female students paid $35 to participate. The fee covered the cost of an athletic jersey to wear and beer provided by some of the parents of senior students. The game took place on Sunday, May 4, 2003 in Chipilly Woods, part of the Cook County Forest Preserve District, at about 11:30 a.m. There was very little, if any, playing of football. The hazing began almost immediately. About 20 junior class participants were sat in the middle of a clearing and forced to be covered in paint, urine, feces, and animal guts. Some were shot with paintball guns, others were kicked and beaten. After it was over, at least five of the participants had injuries requiring medical attention.

Media attention

A student videotaped the incident with a camcorder. The student gave the videotape to Anna Davlantes, a reporter at television station WMAQ in Chicago. Davlantes broke the story the next day and it began to receive international media attention. The news story shocked the community. Northbrook citizens felt outrage and embarrassment as their normally quiet, suburban upper-middle class community was thrust into the media spotlight. Most argued that the incident did not at all reflect on the values of the school and community.

School reaction

How to respond became a problem for school officials. At first, school officials stated there was little they could do except prohibit the students responsible from attending school functions. Glenbrook North High School Principal Dr. Michael Riggle stated while the school condemned the incident, the students could not be suspended or expelled because it did not involve a school sanctioned activity and it did not occur on school property. After further consultation, school officials found differently in accordance with Illinois state law and school district policy.

Thirty-one students – twenty-eight females and three males – were suspended from school for 10 days. They were later expelled. Some of the expelled students and their parents filed a federal lawsuit because they would then be unable to graduate from school. The plaintiffs and the school district reached an agreement where the expelled students would have their diplomas mailed to them provided they dropped the lawsuits and did not make any book or movie deals about the incident. The juniors who participated were suspended but it was lifted when they agreed to counseling and also to not make any book or movie deals. Local law enforcement authorities investigated the hazing incident and filed charges against 15 students for assault and battery. Two mothers were charged with providing alcohol for the event. All were convicted and the sentences received were light, ranging from probation to community service.

A community-wide task force was established after the hazing incident. The task force consisted of 31 community leaders. The final report of the task force was released on November 7, 2003. The report stressed the needs for recognizing and preventing hazing incidents.

After the incident

  • Another District 225 hazing incident made news in April 2004. This time it involved Glenbrook South High School. After an investigation, the board of education announced that 24 members of the school's lacrosse team had gathered at a player's house for an underage drinking party and an initiation paddling of the junior players. All were suspended and had to receive counseling. Subsequently, the rest of the teams' 2004 season was cancelled.
  • There was also a rumored attempt by some Glenbrook North High School students in April 2004 to organize another powder puff game. This time the organizers were going to move the game across state lines into Wisconsin. School officials investigated the rumor and made it clear that another powder puff game would not be tolerated.
  • In May 2004 four students who were junior students in the 2003 powder puff incident and their parents filed lawsuits in Cook County Circuit Court. The lawsuits named as defendants numerous individuals including the senior girls and their parents. The plaintiffs in their suit are seeking compensation for physical and psychological trauma as a result of the hazing and punitive damages as well.


In 2005, the Boys' Varsity Basketball team won the Illinois IHSA AA state championship, coached by Dave Weber. The school also won the state football and baseball championships in 1974.

Notable alumni

See also

External links


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