Future Home of Ellsworth Dansby Jr. Magnet School
Update September 26, 2023
On Tuesday, September 26, 2023, the DPS Board of Education approved naming the new building Ellsworth Dansby Jr. Magnet School.
Mr. Ellsworth Dansby Junior was a native of Decatur, born on October 5, 1914. He was a graduate of Decatur High School and one of the first black men to graduate from Millikin University. But what Mr. Dansby is most known for is his military service — he was the second black man to be sworn into the Army Air Force, the first enlisted man in the group to receive the rank of master sergeant during World War II, and a member of the first black aviation unit, the 99th Pursuit Squadron of the Army Air Corps, which later became known as the Tuskegee Airmen.
Mr. Dansby was always fascinated with flying. He and his friends built model airplanes. And, at the age of 12, Mr. Dansby flew an airplane alone at a farm airstrip near Dalton City, taking off and landing safely.
Mr. Dansby began applying to the Air Force shortly after his graduation from high school. He joined the Army Air Force just as the 99th Squadron was activated at Chanute Field in Rantoul and sent to Tuskegee, Alabama. That’s where Mr. Dansby became the first African-American master sergeant and one of the “Tuskegee Airmen,” the nation’s first black military fighter pilots.
After the war, Dansby returned to Decatur and campaigned for civil rights and racial integration. He became a member of the Decatur school board from 1968 to 1971 and served on the Board of Directors of the Decatur/Macon County Opportunities Corporation.
Mr. Dansby passed on June 4, 1989, at the age of 74.
On Tuesday, February 14, 2023, BLDD Architects presented an update on design development plans for the new STEM school building to the DPS Board of Education. DPS is very excited to build a new school on the site of the former Oak Grove Elementary School, at 2160 West Center Street, adjacent to Oak Grove Park. Construction is expected to begin on the new building in Fall 2023.
For the past couple of months, a design planning committee has met regularly with architects from BLDD to refine the vision for the new school building. That committee consists of American Dreamer parents, administrators, teachers, and staff; Board and community members; and staff and administrators from the District level. You’ll find a list of all the design committee members below.
Throughout the process, BLDD has listened and responded to the vision of the committee, making tweaks and changes to reflect the needs of our students and staff who will call this new building home. Below this message you will find design drawings of the exterior and interior spaces of the new building. Keep in mind that these are sketches to capture the feeling of the plans for the school. There will be modifications made as the planning and construction phases of the project continue.
We hope that you are as excited as we are to see that vision take shape in the form of a new school to serve DPS students for decades to come. We will keep you updated as the design and ultimately construction process continues.
STEM School Design Planning Committee:
- Rochelle Clark, DPS Superintendent
- Mike Curry, DPS Chief Operations Officer
- Kent Metzger, DPS Director of Buildings and Grounds
- Ray Frey, DPS B&G Representative
- Denise Swarthout, DPS Chief Communications Officer
- Maria Robertson, DPS Community Engagement Director
- Bill Clevenger, DPS Board of Education Member
- Jason Dion, DPS Board of Education Member
- Rida Ellis, ADSA Principal
- Courtney Settles, ADSA Assistant Principal
- Megan Meyrick, ADSA Parent Liaison
- Tara Pitt, ADSA Cross Cat Teacher
- Jeremy King, ADSA Art Teacher
- Otiyuna Franklin, ADSA Parent
- Mark Peters, Community Member
- Tony Holly, Community Member
- Steve Oliver, BLDD Architects
- Carson Durham, BLDD Architects
- Damien Schlitt, BLDD Architects
- Kim Kurtenbach, BLDD Architects
- Kendall Oliver, BLDD Architects