How Far We’ve Come: A Celebration of 20 Years of North History

Bridget Nelis and Addie Grimm

On Sept. 5, 2000, North opened its doors for the first time, and this year, North celebrated its 20th anniversary. A lot has changed since it opened. 

“20 years later, people know who we are,” said Audra Christenson, a member of the inaugural staff and current North principal.

The first year there were only around 900 students, all freshmen and sophomores. Over the next few years, more grades were added. By 2002 North was home to all four classes. The first day was celebrated with a balloon arch over the entrance and a school picnic.

The main foyer was decorated with a balloon arch to celebrate the first day of school. (Dr. Natalie Rosin)

“I just remember the newness of it all and the excitement of what it was like to be part of a new school,” said Kevin Harrington, inaugural staff member and current North math teacher.

On May 29, 2001, a time capsule was placed in the North courtyard. Some of the items in it are a photo of the students and staff, a popular CD of the time, a class and staff roster and newspaper articles. This time capsule is to be opened on North’s 25th anniversary. The time capsule was placed inside the wall in the courtyard.

On May 29th, 2001 a time capsule was inserted into a wall in the courtyard at North. (Todd Hewell)

One thing that has evolved over the years is technology. North used to have one computer lab in the LRC. There weren’t desktop computers in every room. Students did not have individual Chromebooks or own cell phones. 

“It used to be that people needed to utilize book resources or printed resources for things; now it is much more electronic resources or some sort of journal database, but it’s not paper in nature,” said Dr. Natalie Rosin, who was a member of the inaugural staff and is currently a science teacher at North.

The building has also seen some changes over the years. Because only freshmen and sophomores attended North the first year, the building was less crowded. The second floor was not used at all. 

“The building was a whole lot more empty, the link wasn’t as crowded, there were just a lot of rooms that weren’t used,” said Grant Jacobsen, class of 2003 alumni and current North teacher.

Construction on the pool at North was underway. (Todd Hewell)

The artwork inside the building has also grown over the years. The Polaris statue currently displayed in the front foyer was not originally there and the mural around the cafeteria has grown every year. The art students in the 2000-2001 school year painted the first mural and every year since then another painting has been added on. The paintings are a piece of history dating back to the opening of North.

 “Our arts program: music, art, and theater; those played a very big role in helping to establish the spirit, and I think those are still really strong elements of who we are,” said Jennifer Shoaf, who was part of North’s inaugural staff.

Course offerings have also grown over the years. 

“We have a lot more classes now then we did back then,” said Michael Zernone, original North staff member.

There are more classes offered now based on student interest or potential career options. More electives are available now, and students and teachers are able to provide feedback on what classes they want. Students are able to take blended learning courses or take classes through Elgin Community College. They are even able to participate in training programs at Fox Valley Career Center.

The very first issue of the Stargazer welcomes readers and tells the story of the new high school (Dr. Matt Ruckoldt)

“It took us a while to add AP classes and more rigorous courses, and it took us a while to get our footing as far as challenge level and to start our course offerings in general. Now there is definitely an increased challenge level for the school itself,” said Shoaf.

Homecoming is an event that has not changed much over the years. Although it was originally called Fall Fling, since there were no alumni to come home, most of the traditions that we still participate in today started with the first class of North students. Students engaged in class color day, the co-ed volleyball game and small games. There even was the traditional student-filled parade through downtown St. Charles with floats and the band. Fireworks after the football game started the first year of North. 

Because there were no upperclassmen to be on the Fall Fling court, the court was made up of teachers. Students were able to vote on teachers to make them part of the first Fall Fling court. 

“I actually was the first homecoming queen at St. Charles North, which is so weird to actually say,” said Rosin.

Cheerleaders wearing their class colors perform at a homecoming assembly. (Dr. Natalie Rosin)

Clubs and sports have grown in number over the last two decades. In the first year of North, there were only around 25 clubs that students could participate in. Currently, there are around 65 clubs for students. The first couple of years there weren’t many sports teams as there were not that many students, but as the number of students have grown so has the number of teams. The first year there were the traditional sports such as football and basketball, among others, but there were not sports such as bowling or bass fishing. Those have come as student interest has increased. Sports teams have raked in countless conference, regional, and state titles in North’s 20-year history. 

“St. Charles North allows individuals to be really good at what they choose to do,” said Harrington.

When St. Charles North first opened, one of the challenges was to develop a unique culture that differed from St. Charles East. 

“We spent a lot of time during the first few years just establishing a new St Charles North, North Star, culture. We did some things that were special for us that we’ve continued,” said Matt Ruckoldt, another member of North’s inaugural staff.

On Sept. 5, North celebrated its 20 year anniversary. (Dr. Natalie Rosin)

Since then, pride for North has only increased and become more defined. Traditions and student spirit both played large roles in making North what it is today. 

“The biggest change in students, I would say, is their pride to just walk around the town and community wearing blue and black, which is something that you maybe didn’t see as much in the beginning,” said Brian Harks, a class of 2003 North alumni.  

Although St. Charles North has seen some changes over the years, the pride to be a North Star has only grown. 

“Now there’s this established identity for what it means to be St. Charles North,” said Jacobsen.