Atwater's 100th Anniversary
View the 100th Anniversary Activities Timeline
Celebrating Atwater's Centennial
Atwater Elementary officially turned 100 years old in September 2015, and the District held a number of activities and events to commemorate the school's centennial. An Atwater 100th Anniversary committee was formed to organize a series of events during 2015, engaging the entire Shorewood community. The kickoff event for the Centennial year was the Atwater Winter Sing on Jan. 21 and 22. This annual music event is almost completely run by the students; each grade level participates in either vocal or instrumental performances, and the students introduce their own pieces to the audience.
"I feel extremely lucky to be the principal during this important time," said Atwater Principal Kayla Russick. "One of our biggest goals is to try and get the building back to its original state as much as possible. This means working to restore some of the beautiful woodwork around the school and cleaning up the WPA mural in the main hallway, which was painted in the 1930s."
The planning committee launched an Atwater Centennial Fundraising Campaign to raise over $30,000 for a new playground at the school, a joint effort of the Atwater PTO and Shorewood Advancement Office, and also hosted a large 100th Anniversary Celebration event on September 12.
"Throughout this whole process, we have found just how wide Atwater's reach is…to see how many people went to school here, to see the effect that Atwater has had on their lives, and to see how the students, teachers, and community members have stepped up in honor of the school," said Russick.
Atwater Elementary was originally built when the four-room Murray Ave. elementary (now Village Hall) could no longer hold the influx of students. According to a book published by the Shorewood Historical Society, the school board purchased a seven-acre tract in 1913 (on what is now Capitol Dr.), and began construction immediately on the Georgian-style building that was to be called Atwater. Atwater opened its doors as a K-8 school on Sept. 7, 1915 and nearly 200 students were enrolled that year. The front half of the school contained 11 rooms, and later in 1919, the back half was completed with 11 more classrooms and an auditorium-gymnasium.
Over the years, Atwater went through many more changes including adding high school enrollment for a short period between 1921-1925 and adding on the current cafetorium and library in the 1990s, but the school always remained strong in its mission. A few notable graduates from Atwater include Supreme Court Judge William Rehnquist, Walter Heller, and Congressman Les Aspin.
Atwater continues to thrive today, and currently serves 509 students from K4 to 6th grade. With over 20 classrooms and 34 teachers, the curriculum is constantly expanding and improving, as the school now offers band, orchestra, Spanish, ACE program, Urban Ecology Connections, after-school tutoring, personalized learning, character education, and much more.
Suzi Dixon--who worked at Atwater for over 23 years and had two children and a grandson attend the school--had this to say, "I couldn't have chosen a better school for my boys…You can just tell when you walk on campus that Atwater teachers care so deeply about the progress of their students, and will do anything to help them reach their academic potential…so many people in the Shorewood community have been touched by an Atwater education."
In addition to Atwater, the other District elementary school, Lake Bluff, recently turned 90 years old. The school officially opened its doors back on Sept. 8, 1924 when the Shorewood community recognized the growing need for another elementary, and it has been a staple in the Shorewood community ever since.
It won't be too long before plans are underway for Lake Bluff's 100th Anniversary (in 2024) and right behind that, Shorewood High School's 100th Anniversary (in 2025).
To learn more about the Atwater 100th Anniversary festivities, browse our district website.