The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

School Spotlight

Students Pick Mascot-Colors

by Holly Willdrick, Quill Reporter

The vote is in and students of a newly converged school district have decided on their school colors and a name for the mascot of their new high school, Illini West. Before we talk about their pick, however, let's look at the history of the La Harpe schools.

Over the years La Harpe has seen many changes in their school district. The first log cabin school was built in 1834 in the northeast part of town by Dr. George Coulson. A frame building was built where Lois Bradshaw resides and served as the school until 1844 when it was sold and moved to be used as a blacksmith shop.

The next school was a brick structure at the same location built with money donated by David Gochenour. The school had a enrollment of 98 students and now required more than one teacher. The building served as the public school until the Academy was built in 1855 or 1856 on the site of the present elementary building.

In 1878 or 1879 the Academy was purchased by the Peoria Catholic Diocese as a place of worship. With the enrollment continuing to increase a contract for a new larger brick building was signed in 1899. This building was to be built south of the Academy building. The school was destroyed by fire in 1927 and a new structure was built in 1928.

In 1958 a welcome addition to the school was added on the property just to the west of the elementary structure. It is believed that sometime during the late 40's the school took the name "Eagles".

In 1961 La Harpe went through it's first consolidation with Ft. Green, Terre Haute, and Durham forming Unit District #335. For many this is how the school is remembered. It remained the "La Harpe Eagles" until Spring of 1991 when the high school baseball, softball, and track teams consolidated with Northwestern to become the "Thunder". The football team was consolidated that following fall.

It was over the next few years that the rest of the sports were consolidated with the Jr. High remaining the "Eagles". In 2003 Colchester and Northwestern consolidated schools and this caused the "Thunder" teams to be renamed the "Cyclones" until the fall of 2007 when La Harpe would see yet another change.

Starting the 2007-2008 school year the high school will once again be consolidated. This time with Dallas City and Carthage to form School District #307. The communities were asked to submit ideas for a new name. Several suggestions were made and the board voted to name District #307, Illini West High School.

The students, grades 4-12, at all three schools were then asked to vote for a school mascot and colors. They were to select from the Trailblazers, Charger and Patriots for the mascot. For the colors they had six options to pick from. Red, White and Blue, Navy Blue, Orange and White, Hunter Green and Silver, Blue, Silver, and Black, Red, Gold and Blue, and Navy Blue, Carolina Blue, and White.

All three schools voted overwhelming to adopt "Chargers" as the school mascot with the colors Navy Blue, Orange, and White. What an excellent way to start things off for the new district for all three of the schools to agree on the first decision put in front of them. The Illini Fight song is currently used by all three schools and will continue to be used.

These choices were all approved by the board at the January 24th meeting.

Other athletic decisions made at the meeting were for the joining of the West Central Conference and continuing all sports currently being offered at all three schools.

In addition, the following information was also released after the January 24th board meeting. The school board approved the loan agreement with the three unit districts.

The unit districts are loaning Illini West start-up money that will be repaid by September 15, 2007.

Several superintendent's advisory committees will be formed to insure input from all three communities.

A technology committee, a handbook committee and an athletic committee will provide the board with information necessary to make sensible and fair decisions in the formation of this new district.

Dr. Ford also reported that negotiations for a building lease agreement have begun with District #317.

The next task at hand for the board is the hiring of a permanent superintendent.

Board members will have a series of special meetings over the next few weeks to narrow the twelve applications down to one person they think can develop Illini West High School into the finest high school in the area.