Ellis School in Elgin celebrates its 70th anniversary with games, tours, tree planting
Ellis Middle school in Elgin is 70 years old. To commemorate that milestone -- and the many changes through the years -- the staff of the Near East Side school planned an event dubbed "Celebrating Through the Decades."
"We wanted to help the students experience activities students might have done during the school's 70 years," said Holly Yee, a member of the anniversary committee and a 27-year veteran of the school.
To accommodate the celebration, the school restructured May 5 to allow for a longer period at the end of the day. This was the first all-school assembly in over two years, Yee added.
A hula hoop contest, tug of war, jump rope, and musical chairs planned for outside had to be canceled because of the rain. There were, however, scooter races, relays and pie throwing at the assistant principal in the school gym. Music was provided by a DJ who was a former Ellis student. Students wore T-shirts displaying the school's 70th anniversary logo.
There was also an open house and building tours with pictures from old yearbooks on display. Some walked to nearby Trillium Park -- a park founded because of the influence of Ellis students and staff. Here a white oak tree was planted in honor of the school's 70th anniversary.
Opened during the 1951-52 school year, Ellis Middle School and its companion Larsen Middle School were the second and third junior highs in Elgin Area School District U-46, a district that would later have eight. These junior highs became middle schools in the 1980s, housing only seventh- and eighth-graders as the district moved to a four-year high school plan.
More changes are likely in the future as the district is developing recommendations to move sixth-graders to the middle school.
"Over the years, as students come and go, the longevity of the staff has been the key factor for academic success and curriculum continuity across grade levels," said Holly Yee about teaching at Ellis. "Building positive relationships and providing lifelong skills with our students has been the foundation for our Ellis Eagles."