On June 8, 1850 the people of Freeport voted to build their first high school. By a vote of one hundred 25 to nine, the people approved the maximum amount limited by law, $500.00. This made possible the construction of Union School on South Galena Avenue in 1852, the present site of St. Joseph's School.
The first graduating class from Freeport High School graduated in 1863 with a class size of five. All were girls. By the time that first class graduated, the school had changed its location three times during rebuilding operations. Twice it took up temporary quarters in the First Ward School and once in the Third Ward School. The old Union School had been outgrown by 1884, and a new building was completed in 1885.
As enrollment continued to grow, once again in 1905 the Board of Education was confronted with the need to expand the high school. This need resulted in an addition being built to the high school building. It included a large auditorium and many other rooms. The building was located at the corner of West Pleasant Street and North Galena Avenue, and it served the community until June of 1926.
The present Freeport High School, located on West Moseley Street, is north of Freeport Middle School on a 25 acre tract of land which occupies an entire city block. The building takes up 39 percent of the total site. The original building was built in 1925 and consisted of 58 classrooms. The first graduating class in this new building numbered 122.
Four classrooms were added in 1961, 22 more in 1962, and nine more in 1996, bringing the present total to 93 classrooms. The school also features two gymnasiums, a technology wing, and a 400-seat cafeteria. A swimming pool and the Jeannette Lloyd Theatre are shared with Freeport Middle School.
In 1982-83, Freeport High School became a comprehensive four year high school. Current enrollment is about 1200 students. The school is staffed by more than 95 professional staff members and 40 non-certified members, providing a comprehensive high school education for the students of Freeport.
Some 26,000 students have graduated from Freeport High School since it was moved to the present site in 1926.
Many people ask us how Freeport High became the "Pretzels." In an 1895 article, the "Daily Democrat" first referred to Freeport as "The Pretzel City." It seems that there were many German bakeries in the city, and according to tradition the Billerbeck family enterprise, established in 1881, was the greatest producer of pretzels. Thus Freeport became the Pretzel City, and Freeport High's athletic teams began to be referred to as the "Pretzels."