Celebrating Our 75th Anniversary (1948 – 2023)

In the plains of the Illinois prairie…Where native Americans like the Illini, Kickapoo and Potawatomi tribes roamed…Where fertile soil made for abundant crops…and even greater opportunity…

A patch of land, 30 miles northwest of Chicago….now known as Wheeling, Illinois…was settled by a man named Mr. Sweet in 1833. 

Soon, other families settled nearby…and buildings boomed.

The first post office… and hotel. 

Then 2 blacksmith shops, a 2nd hotel, 2 additional stores (one owned by Russell Wheeler) – some say was the namesake of this growing community – and a public school, erected in 1845….named after the great American author, Walt Whitman.


But soon, growth demanded change and change came. The one room schoolhouse that stood for almost a century gave way to a larger one with more classrooms to better serve the educational needs of an ever expanding community. The formation –  in 1948 – of the Wheeling Community Consolidated School District 21 … serving Wheeling and the surrounding communities of Buffalo Grove, Arlington Heights, Mount Prospect, Prospect Heights and a sliver of Northbrook.

And then the baby boom! Between 1958 and 1971, the population exploded. More buildings were required and the construction of nine of the now 13 schools were started. 

And of course, with these new structures, the tradition continued of naming the schools after great American authors.

We reached out to CCSD21 alumni – both students and staff – to ask them to share a personal memory they had during their time with District 21. Here are their stories: 

Lisa T. – Current D21 Parent/  Former Student, class of 1994

“I’m a former Riley (class of 1994) & Cooper (class of 1996) student that is now raising my children in the same neighborhood I grew up in. It’s so special that my two children are also going to Riley and are creating so many great memories like I did. As shown in the photo, I still have my Class of 1994 t-shirt that I wore on my son’s first day of kindergarten on 8/24/17. I’m looking forward to having matching t-shirts this upcoming spring when he gets his own for his 5th grade graduation! My younger daughter will be following him 2 years later.”

David J K. – Former Student (second row second from the left)

“My name is David and I attended Eugene Field School for the 1966-1967 school year. We resided in Arlington Hts. for about a year give or take before moving to Ohio. I do remember the blizzard of ’67 and had to be picked up from school because of it.”

Erik P. – Former Student

“Newspaper clipping of Mrs. Uth’s 1st/2nd Grade class from about 1984. Apparently combining grades was a was a big deal since it made the paper. I’m front center and remember posing for this picture. The first graders all have their hands up and the second graders are pretending to do quiet desk work.”

“Hawthorne Elementary School 1971 – 1976, the very best years of my childhood with the best teachers starting from Cheryl Carper 2nd grade to Paul Betts 6th grade teacher. I loved the school with open walls and the 1970s.” Cheryl B. – Former Student

Gina K. – Former Student


“Super Gary” Gary B. – Former Student


Read about our Alumni here.