Northwestern High School & Cleage Graduates

old northwestern
The original Northwestern High School stood on the corner of Grand River and West Grand Blvd in Detroit.  It was built in 1911.

When I finished writing up this post, I googled Northwestern High School and found the following statement in an online article from 2011 about school closures in Detroit:

“The academic program at Northwestern High School will close and the Detroit Collegiate Preparatory High School program will relocate from the east wing of Northwestern into the main academic part of the facility. Because of the importance of the Northwestern name to DPS and the community, this new program will be called Detroit Collegiate Preparatory High School at Northwestern.”

So,  like so many other places of importance in my early life in Detroit, Northwestern High is no more.  The original building was replaced in 1980 and the school was closed in 2011. So many of my family attended high school at Northwestern, some just for a year or two.  Here is something about those who graduated, starting with Alberta Cleage in 1927 and ending with my sister Pearl in 1966.

Click on any image to enlarge.


Alberta blog HS

Cousin Alberta Cleage, my grandfather’s brother Edward’s daughter, came up from Athens Tennessee to stay with her Uncle Albert and his family and graduated from Northwestern High School in 1927.


albert sax HS


My uncle Louis Cleage graduated Cum Laude in 1931 and appeared in a picture of the physics lab, right there lower right, first desk.  Advertisements for his medical practice appeared in the Norwester in 1941 and 1942.

Louis Cleage HS
louis ads hs


Henry Cleage appears in a photograph of the orchestra in 1933 and as a graduating senior in 1934.  He is in the back row, 4th from the left with his cello.

henry Cleage_band blog


My uncle Hugh Cleage graduated in 1936, unfortunately that yearbook is missing.

Hugh Cleage

My aunt Barbara Cleage graduated in summer school in August of 1938

barbara hs
Barbara Cleage


My aunt Gladys Cleage graduated in 1939.  In the photo on the right Gladys is standing in front of the back steps. You can see Henry over her right shoulder. Not sure who the other two are but my grandmother Pearl is looking through the screen door.

gladys Cleage HS plus


My cousin Geraldine Cleage, Uncle Henry Cleage’s daughter graduated in 1940.  They lived a few blocks from my grandparent’s house on Scotten.

geri cleage HS


Anna Cleage graduated from Northwestern in 1942 and appeared in the Norwester and in 1947 in the yearbook when she graduated from Wayne State University.

anna HS 1942
Anna 1947 WSU
Anna’s Wayne State University graduation photograph from 1947.

I, Kristin Cleage, graduated from Northwestern in 1964.

honor society 1a

That is me in the middle, 2nd row. I pretty much looked like that throughout my high school career.  I did not take a senior photo and didn’t plan to go to my graduation, but did end up going. Do not remember a thing about it.


Pearl Michelle Cleage 1966 graduate

My sister Pearl Cleage graduated from Northwestern in 1966. 


Pearl gave the valedictorian speech at her graduation. Jim advised her to speak out against the war in Vietnam. She was horrified at the thought and regrets now that she did not do it.


Several family members attended Northwestern for part of their four year high school career and then transferred to other schools. Some were Ruth Cleage, Shelton Hill, Ernest Martin and Betty Floyd.

new northwestern
The new Northwestern High School, dedicated in 1980, stood down the street from the old site on West Grand Blvd.

12 thoughts on “Northwestern High School & Cleage Graduates

  1. Love this post. I t was really interesting reading about your family when they were in high school. Hopefully one day they will find the missing yearbooks. I had family that went to that school too. Your post brought back so many memories of their high school days. Thank you for sharing your story.

    1. I was pretty excited when I found so many year books on ancestry. I had some at home, but not nearly all of them. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

  2. Wow Kristin. I had no idea that the name of Northwestern High School had been changed. I still refer to it as Northwestern. My high school Mackenzie was also closed and torn down. It reopened as a elementary/middle school. Sad

    1. Neither did I. Also gone are Eastern High School, my mother’s high school and Roosevelt Elementary School, my elementary school.

  3. Louise Cleage, M.D. had the most extraordinary head of hair always. Loved that he got the Cum Laude Chemistry title. A kindred spirit because – this is personal – but I got the Harvard Book Award in Chemistry so another Chemistry person is just the best.

    Where did you keep all this information on your family? All I can say is that all of it is just astounding and thank you for it all. Was it in a storage locker? The amount just seems staggering to me.

    If I am preoccupied this Thanksgiving Season, have a great time w/ your family and enjoy it all!

    1. I have binders, boxes, online stuff that I find or that was sent to me by cousins. No storage locker. You have a great Thanksgiving too.

  4. Funny, but your family name has a deep place in my memories, as a young man I participated in the church of Albert B. Cleage Jr. I lived directly across the street from Northwestern at 2109 West Grand Blvd and my oldest sister and daughter’s mother graduated from there .

    As a young developing a musician/vocalist, I lead many songs at the church. My first child was born in that church. And I spent countless hours in meetings and fundraising for the church on Linwood and Hogarth. Just wanted to share that with you.

  5. The space where the “new” Northwestern was built, closer to the Lee Plaza (Lawton and West Grand Blvd), was the ice skating pond during the winter and the tennis courts area. In 1950 I was skating on the pond and went to far to the back edge and fall through some weak ice. Had to walk home (Tireman Avenue) soaked from the waist down – damn mess! At that time I dreamed of living at the Lee Plaza Apartments. It was an impressive place to me. Couple times we took the train to Kalamazoo – The Michigan Central station was dynamic. To this day I love to watch trains roll on. Detroit had so many beautiful structures. So Sad!

  6. I started skating around 1948 (8 years old), and skating warming house was there. Skip had some speed skates; I had his old hockey skates. When I fell through ice in 1950, I just walked home – going into the warming house would have just prolonged my wet agony. Needless to say my cronies got a big laugh out of my experience. In 1956 the warming house was still there. Your referenced articles were very informative about this issue. Concerning the Lee Plaza – Google it – Lee Plaza Apartments, Detroit MI. Someone took a series of photographs of the place after it was abandoned and stripped. This must have taken place after the 1967 rebellion. I was in the south east Asia war zone in 1967. I saw a photograph in the Stars and Strips newspaper taken from the church steeple across from Northwestern H. S. The photograph was of the burning of Cunningham’s drug store, Kresge’s 5 and 10 cent store, Sander’s Lunch room – that whole block from West Grand to Larchmont. Shocked me!

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