By: Alex Durante
It’s hard to believe, but this marks five years since Eisenhower re-opened as a K-12 school. In honor of that, The Squire took some time this winter to find out more about the school’s past, present, and future. We would like to thank Ms. Walter in the library for the historical information.
The school’s history dates all the way back to 1805, when a two-room schoolhouse was built by John and Hugh Marsh. It was called the Marshtown Schoolhouse, and was located where Lander-Russell and Fairbanks Road intersect. Over the years, there were many schoolhouses in this general area, and eventually, three high schools opened around here, located in Russell and Lander, both of which closed in 1948, and Sugar Grove-Farmington, which closed in 1956. The same year the Sugar Grove-Farmington School closed, a new high school was built near the original sight of the schoolhouse, and it was known as the Northern Area Joint High School. During a dedication ceremony on April 9, 1957, the name was changed to a name current Eisenhower students might find a bit more recognizable, as the school then became the General Dwight D. Eisenhower High School.
During the dedication, Dwight D. Eisenhower himself sent a telegram which read, “The honor you give me in the naming of this school becomes a part of the high honor I enjoy in promoting the goals of education across the width and breadth of this land.” The school was eventually expanded upon in 1968, but remained largely unchanged for decades after. By the turn of the century, the school was in desperate need of a facelift. In 2013, bids were approved to make the school into a K-12 campus and renovate the existing building.
School was in session here during the 2013-2014 year, but the old parts of the building were being demolished as the new parts were being added, so it wasn’t unusual to see a construction worker or two as you were walking down the hall. With this being the case, everything was moved around, leading to rooms like the auditorium and old study hall room being used as classrooms for the time being. Some classes like Home Ec. and Computer were moved to portable buildings in the back parking lot as well.
As this year went on, it was out with the old and in with the new. When the 2014-2015 year began, all the students from Russell and Sugar Grove Elementary came in, and the school was mostly done, but there would be more renovations that took place as the year went by. By the end of that year, the makeover was complete.
To get some firsthand details about the school before recent renovations, The Squire talked to Mrs. Swanson, who graduated from here in 1975, and has been teaching here since 1995, although she taught for several years at Warren High before returning to her alma mater. When renovation first began, Mrs. Swanson remembers that, “it was extremely hard to teach with all the construction noise going on.” Her classroom was moved to “the old English hallway,” which is now the middle school downstairs.
Mrs. Swanson did like the school before renovation though, and her favorite thing about it was, “teaching on the side of the building facing the football field. I loved to look over the fields, especially in autumn.” Also, “there were more teacher parking spaces,” the, “classrooms were larger,” and “the views weren’t distracted by concrete walls.” The old courtyard had some nice views, however, it is currently a work in progress, as they are working to make it more welcoming to students. Interestingly, the original school construction plans from the 1950’s indicated that a swimming pool was meant to go there. Unfortunately, those plans never became a reality and students were given a grassy courtyard instead.
Now that the school is renovated, Mrs. Swanson says that she likes how it, “is brighter because of the lighter walls and floors,” and adds that she enjoys teaching here, as her whole family has a strong Eisenhower connection – not only is she an Eisenhower grad, but so are her siblings, her husband, and her children.
The Eisenhower class of 2019 was the last class that actually attended this school before the renovation project began. Most of the current students here probably have family members or friends that graduated from here well before this most recent renovation started. Many alumni enjoy returning to the school to see how it has changed, mostly for the better. Since this school year is the quinquennial of the revamping, journalism is working on a video celebrating the history of our school, so stay tuned to the EMHS Squire YouTube channel for the finished video.