About Dennis Elementary School
At the turn of the 19th century, Forest Grove a one-room schoolhouse, stood at the present Dennis School location. In the fall of 1910, the first wing of Dennis School opened with three classroom teachers. By 1955 and two additions later, Dennis was serving upwards of 600 students for the growing West-End of Decatur.
Many changes have taken place from 1955 through 2010 for Decatur, as well as Dennis School. For many years, Dennis was considered a “neighborhood” school, serving the nearby children of the “West-End”. The maturing neighborhood, and continued expansion of Millikin University has required the Dennis School boundaries to continue eastward to route 51. It is with pride though, that Dennis School had served local students whose parents and grandparents have attended Dennis. Through three building additions, Dennis remains the oldest school building presently utilized by D.P.S. # 61. One hundred years plus years and thousands of students have worked their wear on the older sections. Through a major renovation project, the mosaic tile north entry, the craftsmanship of the woodwork, and unique artifacts were preserved, reflecting a special warmth and character. It is often remarked, “If these walls could talk”! Dennis School has maintained a large collection of photographs reflecting the past 90+ years, and looks forward to planning for the upcoming 100 year anniversary.
Presently, Dennis School serves 403 students in Pre-K through seventh grade. Students at Dennis have the opportunity to participate in Music, Physical Education, Library, and Computer Lab access. Each classroom at Dennis is connected to the networked computer lab, enabling Internet access for student research. Dennis also provides opportunities for students to participate in honor choir, band, orchestra, cross country, basketball, volleyball, science club, math club, art, Lego Club, and Movie Night.
The Dennis School Parent Co-op supports student enrichments, special events, donates educational resources, as well as coordinating parent volunteer initiatives.
The close proximity of Dennis to the Millikin campus, provides a mutually benefiting relationship, as many college students assist through Student Teaching, Field Experiences, Internships, Service Learning Projects, or simply volunteering to experience the rewards in helping a child learn a skill.
In the fall of 2012, the new Dennis Lab School is starting its first official year with the collaboration of Millikin University. Please click the Lab School Project tab to find out more. It's a work in progress.
Andrew Dennis and His West End Legacy
Article from the "Westender"
Last year marks the 100 anniversary of the founding of Dennis School that was celebrated with an open house at the school last October. The Westender newsletter featured a series of articles about Mr. Dennis and his legacy. The first article will focus on Mr. Dennis and his family.
Andrew Dennis was born in Greencastle, PA in 1820. His family moved to Ohio where Andrew continued his education while assisting his father on the their farm. Andrew had a brother living in Macon County who wrote to Andrew in 1850 encouraging him to move here. Andrew moved to Macon County in 1852 and worked with his brother in the plastering trade for a number years. As Andrew accumulated money, he purchased large tracts of land south of the old Macon County Fairgrounds (later Fairview Park) extending south to Decatur Street and beyond in some places. His property was west of Decatur's city limits during his entire lifetime. Mr. Dennis was successful in his farming and other endeavors.
In 1854, Andrew Dennis married Matilda Baker whose parents, William and Marilla Baker came to Macon County in 1828 - a year before the town of Decatur was established in 1829. The Baker were among the first settlers in Macon County. They settled in Longcreek Township in what is now know as Baker Woods near the (later) North Fork Church.
Mr. and Mrs. Dennis had four children. Their daughter Maggie became the wife of Rev. Abner Cobb who ended up owning all of Andrew Dennis' property north of West Main Street sometime after 1891. The Cobb parcel was roughly bounded by what are today Fairview Park, Park Place, West Main and Dennis Ave. Daughter Mary Dennis died at the age of 21 and son Ira Dennis died in infancy. Son Charles Dennis attended grade school in a one-room schoolhouse located where the present Dennis School was later built.. At Decatur High School, Charles' favorite teachers included E. A. Gastman and Mary W. French. Later Charles moved to Chicago to become the editor of Chicago Daily News.
As a result of his energy and capable business management, Andrew' farm became valuable with fields yielding excellent crops. He added good buildings and made other improvements that indicated his progressive spirit. He served as county commissioner for a short time. Those who knew him had warm regards for his sterling character. The Dennis family became members of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
After Andrew's death in 1893, Matilda switched to the Cumberland Presbyterian Church of Decatur since two of her brothers were Presbyterian ministers. In 1895 Mrs. Dennis left he farm and moved to 820 N. Union Street next door to her sister. She retained ownership of the rich tract of 141 acres on which she and her family had resided. Matilda passed away in 1910. Both Andrew and Matilda are buried in Decatur's Greenwood Cemetery.