The *official Senn High School Alumni website representing all of the Senn Alumni.

Principal's Alley

This page is dedicated to the great leaders that lead Senn towards excellence. 



1st. Principal - Benjamin F. Buck

Benjamin F. Buck had the honor of being Senn’s 1st principal. When Senn opened its doors in 1913, the enrollment was 600 students. Benjamin received his degree from the University of Michigan. After leaving Senn, Benjamin had gone on to become the assistant superintendant of the Chicago schools. Benjamin had always thought of Senn as his home. He later came back to Senn during the construction of its new wings in 1931, where he is pictured on a construction truck. The 1923 Forum yearbook was dedicated to Benjamin F. Buck. It Read:

“In our desire to express appreciation of the invaluable benefits which Senn and all who are in any way connected with Senn have received from him, we dedicate this book to our Principal, Benjamin F. Buck. Through the power of his personality we have learned to be more individual; he taught us how to help him in the challenging but worthwhile tasks of keeping the personal element alive in a school as large as Senn has become.”

*Benjamin F. Buck served 15 years as Senn’s principal.  

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2nd. Principal - David M. Davidson

David M. Davidson was born and raised in New Orleans Louisiana, where he attended Boys High School. Upon graduation he entered Tulane University. From there he went on to the University of Chicago to major in physics and chemistry. Mr. Davidson’s first taught at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. Later, entering the Chicago public School system in 1911, he taught at the McKinley high School until 1922, when he was promoted to the principal-ship of the Holden Elementary School. 

Mr. Davidson was a fine principal and true friend to all that knew him. On the evening of January 29th 1948, Senn bade its farewell to a man who was the inspiration of thousands of Senn students and teachers. It was most fitting that Mr. Davidson’s made his last appearance as principal of the school in Senn Hall before an audience gathered for commencement exercises.

*Mr. David M. Davidson’s served 20 years as Senn’s principal.  

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3rd. Principal - William G. Wilson

May 3rd 1948, William G. Wilson had taken over his new appointment as Senn’s principal. Mr. Wilson had attended the Chicago Normal College, Armour Institute, and continued his education at the University of Chicago, where he relieved a Masters Degree in Education and advanced training for the Doctorate. Mr. Wilson began teaching in the Chicago Public Schools in 1918 at the Field and Pierce Elementary Schools, and continued at Austin High School and then at the Chicago Teachers College.

From 1940-1948, Mr. Wilson was principal of the Haven and Plamondon Elementary Schools. Many Senn students remember his kindness and leadership through his short term at Senn. 

Mr. Wilson has been described as:  “A Modest Gentleman, an Inspiring Leader, an Understanding Parent and Teacher” 

In February 1951, Mr. Wilson had left Senn High School to his new appointment, the Elementary District Superintendent of District Eight. 

*Mr. William G. Wilson served 3 years as Senn’s principal. 

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4th. Principal - Harry S. Carr

Mr. Harry Carr began his teaching in 1925, teaching science at Waller High School and has been in the Chicago system ever since. After passing the principals examination in 1935, Mr. Carr was principal of Clinton Elementary School from 1948-1951. During World War II Mr. Carr had served as Lt. Commander in anti-submarine work.

Mr. Carr had left Senn to go onto Austin High School as his new assignment, but before leaving the students and teachers had said:

“Farewell, Adios, Auf Weidersehen, Au Revior, Vale...

No words or no language can adequately convey our gratitude and our sadness in saying farewell to Mr. Harry Carr. Only the language of the heart can fully express the respect we have for this splendid educator and friend who served our school. Each one of us in our own way will be grateful for all that he has meant to us and Senn high School.”  

*Mr. Harry Carr served 5 years as Senn’s principal.  

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5th. Principal - Samuel Nowinson

“I am happy to be at Senn, and I know a fine school when I see one and Senn is one of the Best”  said: Mr. Samuel Nowinson as he had started the position of principal.

Mr. Nowinson had formerly been principal of Hayes, Key, and Englewood High School. Prior to that, Mr. Nowinson had taught at McKinley High, Rees, Wells, Austin High, Crain and Lakeview. With a wide variety of administration abilities, his knowledge of educational functions became known.

Mr. Nowinson went on to the promoted position of Superintendant of District 17. Mr. Nowinson before leaving had left Senn with these words on education: 

“An education is the most lasting possession which a human being can acquire in a life time. Laws may change, governments may fall, and fortunes may be made or lost, but the permanency of knowledge is the best form of social insurance in a world where the only certainty is change.”

*Mr. Samuel Nowinson served 4 years as Senn’s principal. 


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6th. Principal - John F. Erzinger

In September 1959, Senn welcomed its new principal Dr. John F. Erzinger, a Senn alumnus himself. After graduating from Senn, Dr. Erzinger received both his bachelors and masters degrees at Northwestern University and later earned his doctorate at Harvard University. Dr. Erzinger had left Senn and went to be the Superintendant of District 13. Dr. Erzinger left these words:

”Dear Students,

My congratulations and best wishes to the members of the 1960 class of Senn High School. The theme selected by the staff of the Forum is very appropriate since the students and the graduates certainly represent the true spirit of Senn High. When the members of our community speak of Senn, they do not refer to our building structure, however impressive it may be; they are referring to our students and faculty, and we have every right to be proud of their achievements. This year, Senn has again achieved distinction in scholarship, citizenship, service, talent and good sportsmanship.

This year too, the memory of Dr. Nicholas Senn was honored by the International College of Surgeons for the outstanding contributions that he made to mankind during his lifetime. I am confident that his spirit lives on through the students of Senn High School.”

Dr. John F. Erzinger

*Dr. John F. Erzinger served 1 year as Senn’s principal. 


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7th. Principal - Dr. Benedict Amar

Unfortunately no information has been found on Dr. Amar with the exception of one message to the students in the 1961’ yearbook. It read:

“New Horizons – the overtones in the theme of this year’s Forum call up echoes of the daring, the intrepid, the adventurous – all those bold qualities that identify the frontiersmen in his uncharted trek westward. It is no accident then that on a national level the incoming political party carries aloft a banner inscribed “New Frontiers”. Nor is it mere coincidence that Dr. Willis’ Annual report as General Superintendent of the schools is called, {Quality Through New Directions}. What is this unrest, this seething physical ferment that makes complacency intolerable and forces innovation? Whatever it is, it sparks that fuse of intellectual curiosity in man without which there would be no progress. In the spell of that divine inspiration there is a little that can successfully challenge man’s mind. Even some of nature’s most inexorable laws have become impotent under its attack. So our theme presents its challenge. The expansiveness of New Horizons beckons and welcomes us to the bright future.”

*Dr. Benedict Amar served 4 years as Senn’s principal.  


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8th. Principal Thomas F. Coffey

“Under the leadership of Senn High School’s new principal Thomas F. Coffey, new programs have been inaugurated. The “TESL PROGRAM” designed to help students learning English as a second language has begun. Also an extensive history program is offered, covering everything from Modern World History to Urban History.”

Just as Dr. Nicholas Senn attempted throughout his career to help people, Senn’s new principal Thomas F. Coffey is responsible for the welfare of Senn’s 3385 students. Mr. Coffey has served many years in the Chicago School system. Mr. Coffey had come to Senn in late 1965 from Washington High School. Since then, many new programs have been tried under Mr. Coffey’s leadership. 

The painting of the school and the fixing Senn Hall’s terrible acoustics was just the beginning of many face lift improvements in addition to academics. A student exchange program, musical and dramatic groups such as the Illinois Ballet were just part of Mr. Coffey’s administration’s efforts to make Senn a more comfortable and interesting place to go to school. We thank Mr. Coffey! 

*Thomas F. Coffey served 6 years as Senn’s principal.  


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9th. Principal - John T. Martin

A reception for Mr. John T. Martin was given by the PTSA at Ebenzer Lutheran Church on February 11th. The P.T.S.A. provided refreshments for some 500 well wishers who had attended. Mr. Martin was finally selected as the principal in January 1973 by the Senn Committee.

In order to become principal of Senn High, John T. Martin with perseverance waited through 28 harrowling meetings of the Senn High School selection committee, who finally selected who finally selected him as their choice for principal to the Board of Education. Within a few weeks, the Board of Ed. had certified Mr. Martin and placed him officially into the position of chief administrator having been acting principal for two years and assistant principal at Senn High School.

Shock and dismay were truly evident when he announced his early retirement in January of 1992 from Senn. Having been at Senn for over 25 years in all, Mr. Martin was expected to lead the academy into the 21st century, but that was not to be. The Senn community rallied around Mr. Martin and said their good-byes with accolades.

In 2010, the Senn alumni gathered for their 2nd annual picnic under Senn Friends Forever Alumni Group in which former principal Martin had agreed to attend. Unfortunately, Mr. Martin had died just prior to the gathering that same month.

*John T. Martin served 21 years as Senn’s principal. 


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10th. Principal Christine Clayton

Christine Clayton prior to becoming Senn’s principal had worked at Senn for years as the Chorus-Music teacher. She was loved by many, and she was stern when she needed to be. Twice a year, her chorus had put on the spring and winter concerts along with the band and orchestra. The following words were left by Ms. Clayton:

“All students should be able to receive a quality education, and be able to function in everyday workable situations. ~1992’

“If restricted are to become a reality, if the ideal of equity is not to be languished, if we are to unleash the potential of every child, we must unsettle-we must jettison the status quo. That means the teaching profession must move toward the day when every teacher is a visionary, an agitator, an agent of change, an enemy of status. Only if the transformation occurs will we close the gap between what American Education is capable of becoming. The time to prepare our students is now! The place to begin the preparation is here! The challenge is yours.” ~ 1996’

It was Ms. Clayton’s hope that more parents would be part of the LSC – Local School Committee and further more become more involved with students and help them achieve their highest goals in education.

*Christine Clayton served 4 years as Senn’s principal. 


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11th. Principal Judith Hernandez

Judith R. Hernandez like her predecessor Christine Clayton had also worked at Senn High School for a great number of years as a teacher and a school councilor. In her early days at Senn, she was known as Judith McNelly and was the Department Chairman back in 1972.  In 1996, Ms. Hernandez was ready for a new beginning at what was temporally called Senn Metropolitan Academy. Ms. Hernandez had said:

“In October of 1996’ our school was notified that they had been placed on probation. Not because we were bad, but because our test scores were -Low in Reading- and that was not the news I wanted to hear. We all made a concerted effort to move ahead. Our Math and Reading scores went up. Senn Metropolitan Academy is a microcosm of the world. We study together, we play together. I am amazed at the way we get along for the most part. There are no challenges you cannot meet and there are no goals you cannot surpass. We can be proud of what we achieve here at Senn Metropolitan Academy, in our classrooms, in our offices, and on our playing fields-but our achievements are not due to complacency and the status-quo. It is because we work together for success. I wish you all luck and of course an excellent future.” ~1997’

“Best of wishes to all of the past, present and future students who call Senn High School their alma mater. I will always hold a special place in my heart for you, the faculty, staff and parents of Senn High School”. ~2005’ Judith R. Hernandez

*Judith R. Hernandez served 9 years as Senn’s principal.  


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12th. Principal Richard S. Norman

Richard S. Norman began his career in the Chicago Public School system as a teacher at Waller High School. Mr. Norman also taught at Schurz High and was a councilor at Mather High. Prior to Senn, Mr. Norman was the Director of Admissions at North-side College Prep High School.  

Mr. Norman has been quoted to say: “Senn celebrates diversity in its daily acceptance of individuals from all over the world working towards a common goal. One of the things I have enjoyed the most is the out pouring of school spirit. The return of the International Festival was a great experience as well. Watching our students celebrate the diverse cultures which are their heritage, was exciting. As I walked through Senn’s halls, I was often greeted by the students and I welcomed the dialogue in which we engaged.”

Mr. Norman had retired after 20 years in the CPS system, with faithful and dedicated service to the schools and the children. Richard S. Norman also serves as a member on the committee for the upcoming Senntennial 2013 event, when Senn High School turns 100 years old.

You can still catch up with Mr. Norman at many of the Senn football games, for he was very much a fan.

*Richard S. Norman served 5 years as Senn’s principal.  


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Susan A. Lofton
2010 - July 17th, 2015


13th. Principal Susan A. Lofton

Members of the Senn High School LSC-local school council elected a new contracted principal, Susan Lofton to replace retiring principal, Richard Norman.

Lincoln Park-resident Susan Lofton was awarded a four-year contract on July 1st 2010. Prior to coming on board as Senn’s interim principal in May, Ms. Lofton was an assistant principal at Steinmetz High School. A note from Ms. Lofton to the Senn community:


“Yesterday January 26th 2011, the Chicago Board of Education approved the Senn Magnet Fine Arts Program, which will start September 2011. Congratulations to the community, neighbors, alumni, fine arts committee, faculty and staff who worked so hard to make this dream a reality!

This is a momentous event in the long term plan for Senn. Our goal is to be a top choice school for neighbors and community, and this program helps considerably. While remaining a neighborhood school, Senn offers specialty program options that are rigorous, competitive, and personalized.

Senn already has a top performing International Baccalaureate program, which expanded this past year with the addition of the new Middle Years Program (IB/MYP). This program is among the most prestigious, academically rigorous in the United States.

Along with the magnet Fine Arts and IB programs, Senn is implementing Smaller Learning Communities, which will focus on college themes in communications, math, science, and technology.

All programs work as smaller cohorts to provide a family-style, personalized experience for students.

The Senn Magnet Fine Arts Program will require an application, academic criteria, interview, and portfolio/performance review. The program has already begun partnering with local talent and major universities.

Senn High School is moving forward, and the community and families are the big winners!”

Sincerely,

Susan A. Lofton Principal 

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Mary P. Beck
March 29, 2016 - Present


14th. Principal Mary P. Beck


Interim Principal Mary Beck was awarded the Principal Contract after she had taken over after Susan Lofton's dismissal. On March 29, 2016 the Senn Local School Council {LSC} recommended Interim Principal Mary Beck to serve as the 4 year contract principal. 


On behalf of the Senn Friends Forever alumni organization, we would like to extend our congratulations to Ms. Beck and wish her luck. 
 


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