The History of Ashkum High School
Ashkum (population 724) is located in upper-eastern Illinois about 17 miles southwest of Kankakee. This places Ashkum in the northwestern portion of Iroquois County. Interstate Highway 57 runs by the west side of town. Illinois Route 116 leads you from Ashkum to the west while U.S. Route 45 comes into Ashkum from the north and travels through to the south. The Illinois Central Gulf Railroad also runs through Ashkum and a branch of the Prairie Creek flows through the south end of town.
The village of Ashkum was established in 1875. It is named for a Potawatomi Native American leader of the same name. The name Ashkum means “more and more” in the Potawatomi language. (Place Names of Illinois by Edward Callary)
Ashkum’s educational history are in need of research. Ashkum probably started an educational process for its children in the late 1800s. The townspeople supported their own high school through the 1930s. It was in the late 1930s that the people of Ashkum and Clifton began consolidation talks. These talks became a reality after the 1940 school year with the creation of the Ashkum-Clifton School District. The high school for the new district was located in Clifton. Ashkum maintained a grade school for the new district.
Information provided by Jay Siflies:
“In 1947 a Gymnasium and a connecting hall with a classroom, office and 2 bathrooms upstairs and a basement cafeteria and boiler room was added. In 1959 another addition was made to the gymnasium addition which included 4 classrooms(all with 2 bathrooms) and a long connecting hall. In 1969 the oldest(original) part of the school was demolished and replaced with an addition consisting of a long hall, 4 classrooms without bathrooms, a library and a janitors closet. My father and grandfather went to Ashkum school as well as worked for Ashkum, then Central, school districts. My grandfather had a school letter in basketball from his days there…it was a purple “L” trimmed in what looked to be gold, so I believe the colors were Purple and Gold (perhaps or time-tinted white) and I recall him saying they were known as the Lions.”
The Ashkum-Clifton School District was joined by Chebanse in 1950 to create the Clifton Central School District. This ended the run of Ashkum-Clifton High School as well.
Ashkum High School Quick Facts
Year opened: late 1800s
Year consolidated with Clifton: 1940
School nickname: “Lions”
School colors: Purple, White, possibly Gold
School Fight Song: unavailable