Ela-Vernon High School (Lake Zurich) “Bears”

Ela-Vernon High School
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Lake Zurich, Illinois
Original Ela-Vernon HS – Built in 1890s
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Lake County Discovery Museum, Curt Teich postcard collection – Submitted by Gerry Halpin

The History of Ela-Vernon High School of Lake Zurich

Lake Zurich (population 19,005) is located in far northeastern Illinois about 35 miles northwest of Chicago. Illinois Route 22 and Illinois Route 12 both lead you to and from Lake Zurich. A body of water known as Lake Zurich sits to the west of town.

The Wikipedia web site http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Zurich%2C_Illinois  has the following historical information listed for Lake Zurich:

“The area of Lake Zurich was first settled by Europeans in the 1830s. Two early pioneers were George Ela, after whom the Ela township is named, and Seth Paine, who established a number of commercial ventures in the town. New England farmers moved to the area in the 1830s and 1840s, and German immigrants began to move to the area from the middle of the century. The village of Lake Zurich was incorporated on September 19th, 1896. It remained primarily a farming community; although the village was connected to the railroad in 1910, the line was closed ten years later. However, the arrival of the highway system with Rand Road, US Route 12 in 1922 and Half Day Road, Illinois Route 22 in 1927 established Lake Zurich as a convenient summer resort. The now-defunct Palatine, Lake Zurich and Wauconda Railroad also served the community. Housing development began in the 1950s, with the population expanding throughout the latter part of the 20th century.”

We are certain that high schools were established in the Lake County townships of Ela and Vernon in the late 1800s, though this may not have occurred until the early 1900’s. The two township high schools functioned independently until the late 1920’s. The year was 1929, in fact, that the residents of both townships agreed to pool there educational resources. This resulted in the creation of Ela-Vernon Township High School. The high school was located in Lake Zurich.

Ela-Vernon High School served the area nicely until efforts to change the school system took place in the early 1960’s. The school had an enrollment for grades 9 – 12 hovering in the mid-300’s each year. However, voters decided it was time to go their separate ways. The folks of Vernon Township chose to develop their own high school now know as Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire. The folks of Ela Township simply named their high school Lake Zurich High School. This occurred in 1965.

The fate of the original Ela-Vernon Township High School building is, so far, a good one. An anonymous fan of the Glory Days site tells us “the original Ela-Vernon HS building is still standing and is now being used as a grade school while the May Whitney Grade School is being cleaned up from damage caused by a flood in 2007.”

Ela-Vernon High School Quick Facts

Year established:                     1929

Year closed:                            1965

Consolidated to:                       Stevenson & Lake Zurich High Schools

Ela-Vernon HS team nickname: the “Bears”

Ela-Vernon HS team colors:      Blue & White

School Fight Song:                   “We’re Loyal To You”

                                                               University of Illinois Fight Song Tune

                                                               Information courtesy of Sue Dewitz Jenks


We know that Ela-Vernon High School competed in boys basketball. Football, track, and baseball were offered as well, as the school was a member of the Northwest Suburban League during the 1930’s. School fight song, coach’s names, and team records of the many Ela-Vernon HS teams are needed.


The boys basketball team of 1943-44 brought home the school’s only hardware from the IHSA State Tournament format. This team won a District Championship in a real competitive area for boys high school basketball. The school also won a lightweight division championship in the Northwest Surburban League in 1937-38. Team records and coaches’ names for these and other great Ela-Vernon HS teams is being sought.

1937-38            Northwest Suburban League

Lightweight Champs

1938-39                                                               Coach H.L. Wesner

1939-40                                                               Coach H.L. Wesner

1940-41                                                               Coach H.L. Wesner


1943-44            IHSA District Champions        Coach’s name & record needed

 District Scores Needed

                         IHSA Regional Qualifier

                         Regional Scores Needed


The Ela-Vernon Bears played football, too. This fact is verified by Bill Erickson, Class of 1960. We are interested in coach’s names and season records of the Bears’ teams.

1959-60           Coach Norm Leamann

                       (JV Coach Bob Meyer)  


The Bears were good on the diamonds along the North Shore region. Following sharing a conference title with Lake Forest in the spring of 1936, they won the next three titles as they closed out the decade as the head of the conference.

1936        Co-Northwest Suburban League Champs    coach unknown

1937        Northwest Suburban League Champs    coach unknown

1938        Northwest Suburban League Champs    coach unknown

1939        Northwest Suburban League Champs    coach unknown

Other Sports and Extra-Curricular Activities

We need your assistance here.  If you have any further information on Ela-Vernon High School and the many activities that were offered there please contact us via the means listed below.


*From Sue Dewitz Jenks:

“I was a student at Ela Vernon High School from 1963-1965.  The school fight song was the same as the Universtiy of Illinois.  I was pleasantly surprised as a freshman at U of I in Champaign-Urbana that I already knew the fight song with a few changes in the lyrics.”

*From Grant Bullock:

“Let’s not forget the Music Program at Ela Vernon, 1956, The Rhythm Kings with Roger Shortall, Grant Bullock, Don Berghorn and Gary Shortall.”


To Add To This Page

You can contact us via e-mail at ihsgdwebsite@comcast.net. Items can be mailed to us at:

IHSGD Website

6439 N. Neva St.

Chicago, Il.  60631 


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