Education & Schools
The citizens of Oglesby have always held education in high esteem. While many of the early immigrants and settlers of Oglesby never achieved status past the elementary grades, they encouraged their children to go beyond eighth grade, on to high school, college, and graduate school.
School buildings, schoolteachers, and schoolbooks were most generously provided by the citizens. These furnished the basis for the future achievements of their children. In almost every profession and business one can find graduates from the Oglesby schools both public and parochial. Some of these fields of endeavor are medicine: doctors, nurses, and pharmacists; law: attorneys, judges, politicians, and law enforcement; and business: bankers, management, engineers, and entrepreneurs. There are musicians, artists, athletes, writers, mechanics, theater people, and many people in other vocations who can boast of being Oglesby graduates. The Oglesby school system takes a back seat to none, from its humble beginnings amid hardships and struggle, to today a 100-plus years later.
The Oglesby Public School District #125 was born in 1869 on the corner of Walnut Street and Woodland Avenue when the one-room Central School was built. In 1888, a two-room addition was added. The first superintendent was J.V. LeBeque, with George Bell as one of the first principals. In 1999, Dr. James Boyle, then superintendent, saw the need for more space. He instigated a $4.3 million building program that added a 40,000square-foot expansion onto the existing Lincoln School building. The funding came from the Illinois Construction Grant Program plus alternate city bonding through the tax-incremental-financing (TIF) zone program.
The school system became a partner with the city of Oglesby. The addition provides a gym suitable for basketball games and concerts. The older, smaller gym became a permanent cafeteria and a part-time play area for the younger students. Instead of art teachers using a cart to wheel paints and art supplies to classrooms, students go to a spacious art room for art classes. The piano was once in the old gym and had to be pushed into the hall when basketball games were played; now there is a permanent music room. There is also a library and a computer lab with twenty-eight Compaq computer terminals. All Oglesby public school students attend Lincoln School through the fifth grade and then go on to junior high (sixth, seventh, and eighth grades) at Washington School. Dr. Boyle serves as principal of Lincoln School as well as the superintendent of the entire Oglesby school system.
The only parochial school in Oglesby was begun in 1903 on the corner of Porter and School Streets on land donated by the Bent family. It was the Roman Catholic Sacred Heart School. Education has always been a priority in the parish. They built a two-story red brick structure for $7,000. Here the student population learned their prayers and studied their catechism on the first floor, while the nuns in the convent occupied the second floor. Franciscans, Felicians, and Sisters of Notre Dame taught generations of children from first through the eighth grades. In 1961, the old red-brick school was replaced by a modern one-story structure of brick and glass located on Alice Avenue across from Memorial Park, and called Holy Family School. The school population grew as well and the parish added a pre-school. Oglesby Public School District #125, has an enrollment of approximately 600 students. The district consists of two buildings with Preschool through grade 5 housed at Lincoln School located at 755 Bennett Avenue and a junior high building housing 6 through 8 students at Washington school located at 212 W. Walnut Street. The preschool program is a free program that allows students from surrounding communities including Lostant, Deer Park, Tonica, and Utica to attend. The district superintendent is Mr. Michael J. Pillion and the district principal is Mrs. Cindy Pozzi.