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Schwartz: Golden times at Downers Grove South

Civil rights, Vietnam and the Beatles dominated the headlines in 1964, and for approximately 600 teenagers in town, it was the first day of school at a brand new facility: Downers Grove South High School.

From 5:30 to 7 p.m. Sept. 26, you are invited to our 50th Anniversary Community Tailgate BBQ to celebrate our school’s golden anniversary and homecoming. Come toast our school and enjoy complimentary food, refreshments and family entertainment. Stay for the football game, as the Mustangs take on Leyden!

As we celebrate our 50th anniversary this year, we have the chance to reflect on how much has changed:

• Our class sizes have more than doubled. There were 316 members of the class of 1967, the first class to graduate from South High. This year, 669 students are part of the class of 2015.

• From the most basic course offerings in the 60s, students now select from more than 200, including 27 rigorous AP courses.

• We’ve come a long way from the slide rule. This year, one in five students will be part of a 1:1 Learning program, having access to a wireless device on a continuous basis.

• From 31 extracurricular programs in 1964, we now offer 65 competitive and enrichment clubs and activities. We also have more than 27 athletic programs for both boys and girls. Recent state championships in speech (2012) and boys volleyball (2013) have brought tremendous pride to our community.

While much has changed since 1964, our focus has not. Our dedicated and skilled teachers, 90 percent of whom hold advanced degrees, challenge our students and spur on their academic success. Our school is continually ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top schools in the state and the nation and year after year, our students are Illinois State Scholars and National Merit scholar recipients.

Further proof of our success is what our students accomplish after high school. On Sept. 25, we will reveal and induct six inaugural members to our Distinguished Alumni program. We received over 50 nominations, and it was energizing to learn about the different paths our graduates have pursued.

From 1964 to 2014, our students have built a rich tradition of excellence in academics, performing arts, athletics, and activities. Opportunities abound for our students and we are excited to see what the future has to offer as we build upon that reputation. It’s clear that our past is golden—and more importantly, so is our future.

Ed Schwartz is principal of South High School in Downers Grove.

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