The history of Pleviak Elementary School

  • J. J. Pleviak School, originally Central School, has been part of Lake Villa for more than a century. It was built in 1910 on land the village purchased for $300.

      J. J. Pleviak School, originally Central School, has been part of Lake Villa for more than a century. It was built in 1910 on land the village purchased for $300. Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

Posted6/24/2013 5:30 AM

Lake Villa Township Supervisor Daniel Venturi said one of his fondest memories of J. J. Pleviak Elementary School was getting paddled by the school's namesake.

"To this day, I still claim it wasn't my fault," Venturi said with a laugh. "Some kids were picking on me and I stood up to them. But, I got blamed for the whole thing, and Mr. Pleviak paddled me."


When school board members vote tonight to shut the doors of J. J. Pleviak School at the corner of Route 83 and Grand Avenue in Lake Villa, it will start the countdown for a school with more than a century of Lake Villa history.

Pleviak was built in January 1910 as Central School, after the village paid the Lehmann family $300 for the land at what was then Antioch Road and Fox Lake Avenue.

According to the book, "Lake Villa Then and Now: Centennial History of Lake Villa, Illinois," the two-story, brick school was built shortly after the land purchase. It had two classrooms on each level, and a library.

The first addition to Central School was the gymnasium in 1939. That gym still stands, and is used as an activity center or auditorium.

A large renovation took place in 1951 when the school added eight classrooms, indoor washrooms, and a combined lunch/recreation room. Prior to that, students would eat in the gymnasium and had to use outdoor plumbing.

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Seven more classrooms and administrative offices were added three years later.

The most recognizable change came in 1973 when the little school at routes 83 and 132 was renamed for Joseph J. Pleviak, a former teacher-turned-principal.

Pleviak moved to Lake Villa in 1954 after his brother told him the district was in need of 17 teachers. He was hired to teach math and history.

Pleviak, who also was the basketball and baseball coach, remained in the classroom until 1970, before being named assistant superintendent, then principal in 1971 and 1972.

He retired in 1972.

Scott Klene, principal of Pleviak for the past 11 years, said the school also used to house the administrative staff in its basement until Peter J. Palombi Middle School opened in 1968.

"We still have all the old documents down there," Klene said. "It really is sad to see it go. It's sad for the people who graduated here and the students here today."


The last addition came in 1993 when a large multipurpose room and six classrooms provided more space for students.

Venturi said a small part of him will miss the old building when its gone.

"A lot of people and things had a big influence on me at that school," he said. "To that extent, I do have a bond with it. I will miss it."

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