Sesquicentennial Celebration: Through the generations

Ellie Smith, Staff Writer

In a district that has undergone many changes, Jacksonville School District 117 is still thriving and ready to teach and learn. 2017 is a big year in Jacksonville history as the educational system it provides to public schools reaches its sesquicentennial. A sesquicentennial is a one hundred-fifty year celebration of an event. The event we are celebrating in our district is the “Bright future and rich history” our local public schools have to provide.

As our school district is celebrating, many questions arise. For instance, “what was school like in years past?” and “ How has it evolved into the district we know today?” Rachel Anderson, a proud Crimson at Jacksonville High School, even wonders if our school has maintained its status over the years. Perhaps that question cannot be directly answered. However, past generations shed light on what was and what could be life at Jacksonville High School.

Mrs. Bien, an employee at Jacksonville High School, can remember a time when the public high school was located on State Street. A fond memory of Mrs. Bien is the “opportunity to get outside going from building to building and over to the Bowl. That part was mostly enjoyable… I really miss seeing the outdoors and feeling the sun during the day.” We often forget what a historical place the JHS Bowl truly is as Bien speaks dearly of it in regards to other events held there. She “liked the fact they had PE at the Bowl with lots of space, and it had historical value to the community.” In addition, they also had their pep rallies at the Bowl during the school day where the jazz band would play. “Everyone was so excited,” Bien said. She hopes that one day we can have a more similar learning environment that she once had. She hopes that we can have more opportunities for the outdoors during the day. Bien also shared that she would like to see pep rallies during the day so that all students have an opportunity to attend.

Tim Chipman is also a JHS alumni who still works within the district. Like Mrs. Bien, Mr. Chipman attended kindergarten through twelfth grade in the Jacksonville School District. When asked how it felt to be a part of the sesquicentennial, he eloquently quotes,  “For me the Sesquicentennial celebration gives cause to remember our roots–the saints who have gone before.  The remembrance that young persons used to travel from several neighboring states to attend school in Jacksonville.  To remember the rich heritage of pioneering educators such as Jonathan Baldwin Turner who were deeply connected to Jacksonville.  To remember that Abraham Lincoln, while never formally educated in Jacksonville, through his friends was deeply connected with the education scene in Jacksonville.  We cannot lose sight of this more eternal perspective.” Chipman delves more deeply into the “eternal perspective” of our district by saying that he would like to see our district “raise up” generations of young persons who go out and change the world. He sets out to achieve this as he quotes, “For me it all goes back to student learning.  The better equipped our students are to learn, the more they will succeed not only in high school but in college and career.”

Rachel Anderson is already living up to Chipman’s dreams by sharing that one of her favorite things about her school is what she has learned in our school’s drafting classes because it is setting her up to succeed for her goals later in life. Mr. Chipman and Mrs. Bien both have hope that their past schooling may impact future generations for the better. And most importantly, there is hope that our generation has rich history and a bright future that will continue to change the communities that we will forever be a part of.