It was 10 years ago that students first got onto buses and walked into Metea Valley High School – the brand new school’s first students. And with only freshmen and sophomore classes at the time, sophomores became the upperclassmen early.
“I was kind of excited, it’s a new experience. Not everyone gets to start at a new school and become an upperclassmen,” said MVHS sophomore Jessica Young-Eleazar in a 2009 interview with NCTV17.
That unique case of sophomore leadership has resulted in a lasting tradition of freshman inclusion, as Alex Gidlow, who was a freshman at Metea in 2009 and just returned as an assistant aquatics director, has seen first hand.
“When we were just starting off, sophomores had gone to Waubonsie for a year, so they were separated from us in that respect as well. They did a great job of including us and being one team,” said Gidlow. “That still is continuing right now. The girls are getting ready to do a full team freshman to senior event that they do every year. In that respect that tradition is still going on.”
History, traditions, culture, booster organizations: none of those exist when founding a new school. It took a collaborative effort of students, teachers, administration, and parents to make Metea successful.
“Not only the students but the parents were close to us too because they had to take on all sorts of parental responsibilities for PTA, for boosters, band and orchestra, things like that. We had the parent piece, the kid piece. I think kids were really proud of the school when they got done,” said MVHS Founding Principal Jim Schmid.
District 204 did have some experience with building schools though, as the superintendent at the time, Kathy Birkett, was the founding principal of Neuqua Valley in 1997.
“Having been through that before. The environment I wanted them to create was one that would work for them,” said Birkett. “The people opening that building and certainly Jim as a leader. You really have a lot of conversations around that.”
And if the words of student-turned-coach Gidlow are anything to go by, the founding of Metea turned out just fine.
“Happy to be home.”
Happy birthday Metea – we wish you many more years of learning ahead.
Naperville News 17’s Blane Erwin reports.
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