Rollo Consolidated High School “Eagles”

Rollo High School
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Rollo, Illinois
Rollo High School Memorial Stone – 2008
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Rollo Town Hall and Grain Elevator
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(Former Rollo Country School Building)

The History of Rollo High School

Rollo is a tiny hamlet located in southwestern DeKalb County in northern Illinois.  There is no population listing for the town of Rollo in the 2000 Illinois Census report, however we are told there are only two houses left in the area which once was the village of Rollo. The town was founded in 1885 along a railroad line that connected Spring Valley and DeKalb. Rollo is located on the DeKalb County roadways of County Road 6 and Suydam Road.  The Chicago & Northwestern Railroad cuts by the western edge of the town limits.  The nearest town of note might be Mendota located 14 miles to the southwest of Rollo.  Rollo is named after a character, “Little Rollo”, from the children’s book series of the day, The Rover Boys.

In 1886 a school building was moved to the west of edge of Rollo.  A well was built near the school and its cement frame was still visible in the 1960s.  This building was moved to a nearby location in 1912 and in the 1960s, possibly even still today, serves as the Rollo Township Hall. It was in the year 1900 that interest arose in developing a consolidated school district for the many country schools in the Rollo area. Several years of planning took place until finally the Rollo School District joined with seven Country School Districts to form a consolidated school district.  A school building, it was decided, would be built and located on the western edge of Rollo. The land for this building was donated by Harvey and Nellie Weddell Bullis. Several visits were made to McNabb Swaney High School (also on this site) in attempts to learn from and improve upon the Swaney efforts.  The new building was finished and the children all moved in on Jan. 13, 1913.

Rollo Student Body
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Rollo School 1913 – Opening Year

One of the Principal’s duties was to keep the fires burning and the rooms warm.  The boys of the school would chop firewood during their recess to help out. This new school in tiny Rollo gained not only state-wide attention, but also attention on a national level. Collier’s Magazine had this to say about the Rollo Consolidated School effort:


                       “One of the best examples in the United States of how rural schools

                       may benefit from consolidation is the new township educational

                       plant in Rollo, Illinois.  It teaches all the grades from ABC to high

                       school, and includes laboratory work, manual training, and house-

                       keeping courses.*

Rollo Grocery Store Bldg
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Photo Taken Jan. 2008
Rollo Church – Photo Taken in 2008
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There were very few other buildings in Rollo even at this time.  A general store, teacher’s house, town hall, train depot, grain elevator, and a church along with but a few houses actually stood inside the town limits.  Support for the school was overwhelming though.  Christmas plays, spring “May Day” parties, and special events were known to draw crowds of well over 200 people.  This in spite of Rollo’s population never exceeding 100 people, normally much less.

A gymnasium was added to the school grounds in 1917.  The only problem was this building was not connected to the school building where the locker and shower rooms were.  The boys of both teams would dash from one building to the other before and after games. It was said that the Rollo boys had a distinct advantage in the early years of the gym’s use. Hot boilers were located in the corners of gym.  The out of bounds lines went right up to the point where the boilers sat.  The Rollo boys were known to set “traps” in the corner near the boilers, causing more than one lad from the visiting team to lose his concentration protecting the ball.  Dressing rooms were added to the gymnasium building in 1936. A new stage was added to the building in 1915.

For nearly four decades Rollo high school proudly served its community. For some of those years Rollo was but a three-year high school with the senior class attending school at nearby Shabbona or Earlville.  It was in 1935 that Rollo High School received a four-year high school accreditation.

Rollo High School’s new building was all inclusive for grades K – 12.  The year the Rollo School System closed there were a total of 40 kids in the entire school (K – 12).  The final graduating high school class at Rollo (1954) had a total of six kids (see photo below). In fact the largest enrollment in the high school’s history of grades 9 – 12 was 16 students!

It was in the late 1940s and early 1950s that Rollo residents began consolidation talks with its neighbor to the north, Shabbona. As stated in report I was fortunate enough to read, the Rollo High School District fell victim to the very item which was the cause for its creation, progress.  It was felt with the developments in transportation and financial gains by combining school districts that the Rollo kids would benefit more by consolidating their school district with a larger school district. Rollo High School was deactivated in 1954 with its high school students bused to Shabonna for their education.

The Rollo school building served as a grade school for kids in grades K – 8 through the 1976-77 school year.  The Rollo High School building hung in there for years, for a while being used as a township building, before being destroyed in 1984.  A sad ending for a once truly proud school building.  Several alumni gathered and each took a brick from the fallen building as a reminder of their school days.  As the school’s “obituary” card read:

                                   In Memory of Rollo High School

Date of Birth:    January 13,  1913

                                   Date of Death:  September 17, 1984

                                   Burial:              Rollo Township Park

                                   Family:             263 High School Graduates

                                                            178 Grade School Graduates

Rollo was featured in an Illinois schools journal in 1920. The following facts were made available for the publication:

No. of districts consolidated:          6

Square miles:                               27

Assessed valuation:                      $589,910

Cost of house:                              $35,000

Annual tax levy:                            $8,968

Tax rate:                                      2.40

Annual tax levy before:                  $2,250

Teachers now:                              9

Teachers before:                           7

Enrollment now:                           125

Enrollment before:                        90

Enrollment in grades:                    74

Enrollment in high school:             43

No. studying agriculture:               17

No. studying manual training:        18

No. studying home economics:     13

Aid from vocational fund:               Yes

Public conveyance:                      No

Years of high school course:         4

Months in year:                           10

Rollo Principal J.R. McEntee fielded questions from the publication as well:

Q – In what way do adults of the community profit by the school?

A – School foster the community spirit. Adults use building and equipment for social affairs, grange, short course, etc.

Q – In what particular does the school meet the needs of the children and young people in the community in a superior way?

A – School gives the children better and more schooling, encourages college education, raises the standard of living.

Q – What complaints are made?

A – No objections from anyone.

Q – What features give the most universal satisfaction?

A – Community spirit created around the school. Better school advantages. Vocational education a factor in the lives of boys and girls. Big school budget. More money.

Rollo HS Park – Site of Former Rollo High School
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Rollo Teachers Cottage
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Gymnasium Behind the Cottage
Certificate of Four-Year HS Status – 1935
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Displayed in Paw Paw Township Building

The wishes of the donors of the land, Harvey and Nellie Weddell Bullis, were that if the land were to no longer be used as a school ground it should be returned to the ownership of their heirs.  The children of Harvey and Nellie graciously donated the property to Paw Paw Township who currently utilize the former Rollo School grounds as a park.

Rollo High School Quick Facts

Year opened:                                         1915

Year closed:                                          1954

Year building razed:                                1984

Largest High School enrollment (9 – 12):   16 students

Total enrollment last year open (K – 12):   40 students

Last Graduating Class size (1954):            6 students

School nickname:                                   the “Eagles”

School colors:                                        Orange & Blue

School Fight Song:                                 Written in 1950 by RHS Class of 1933 alumnus

Marjorie Atherton Cook

                                                             “We’re The Eagles”  

                                                             “We’re the Eagles

The Eagles from Old Rollo High

We’re Royal Blue and Orange Too!”

(remainder being sought)

Rollo School Trophies
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Displayed in Paw Paw Township Building
Rollo Eagle Mascot – Formerly Hung in Gymnasium
Hand Made by a Rollo School Student

Rollo High School offered baseball, track, and, of course, basketball.  In the early fall amidst the smell of freshly cut crops the Rollo boys toured the county playing baseball against all comers.  In the middle of the fall came the sport of choice, basketball.  Track was offered in the spring.  No IHSA success was listed in track or baseball.

Boys Basketball

The early autumn Rollo basketball games of the late 1910s and early 1920s were contested on a hard dirt surface outside in the school yard.  As the weather got cooler, and the night-sunlight shorter, games were moved indoors.  This was probably not a treat in the eyes of their opponents.  The Rollo boys gained a distinct advantage indoors as their home gym was rather unique.  The overhead beams hung so low that long shots had to be arched over the beams to have a chance at going in.  Full court passes were not even an option. The team competed in the Green River Valley Conference against foes from the towns of Paw Paw, Compton, Kings, Steward, Lee, Franklin Grove, and Lee Center.  Of these schools only Paw Paw remains in service today. The Rollo boys also competed in the Little Ten Conference.

The Rollo High School boys proved they could play anywhere.  Two District titles were won in boys basketball in their 39 year history.   In fact, at one point the Rollo boys won five consecutive Green River Valley Conference tournament titles!

Another great story is that of player Alvin Benson, who competed on Rollo’s last District title team of 1950.  What made Alvin unique was the fact that he competed in spite of having full use of his right arm only (check out # “8”, 2nd from the left in the front row, in photo to the right).  Alvin was born without the bottom portion of his left arm but in no way considered himself handicapped.  As was stated to this writer, you do not miss what you never had.  Alvin’s cousin, Russell, played on Rollo’s other District Championship team in 1938. 

Rollo High School’s two District title teams are listed below. Even the coach’s names are listed.  One coach, Carson DeJarnatt, made two other coaching stops after leaving Rollo including a stay at Sterling High School. DeJarnatt also coached Baseball and Track during his tenure at Rollo.  The Rollo kids stayed competitive to the very end, finishing the school’s basketball life at 17 – 7 in 1954.  This completed a string of four consecutive winning seasons to close the high school basketball life of Rollo. Unfortunately team records of the District Champions and other great RHS teams are not available. Some scores involving Rollo in the IHSA Tournament were located on a website titled “Illinois Postseason Basketball Scores.” These scores are posted below.

1915-16          Waterman Tournament Champions       Coach Alfred Tate

                       Defeated Lee Center, Compton,

                       and Polo. 

Waterman Tourney Champs
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Rollo HS Basketball – 1915-16

1921-22          Ottawa District Tournament                       Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to DePue 19-17

1922-23 through 1932-33  Postseason scores, records, and coach’s names needed.

1933-34          DeKalb District Tournament                       Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to DeKalb 57-24

DeKalb lost to Sycamore in title game

1934-35          DeKalb District Tournament                       Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to DeKalb 50-31

DeKalb lost to Waterman in title game

1935-36          Mendota District Tournament                     Coach’s name & record needed

  1st Rd Beat Hennepin 29-19

Semi-final lost to Earlville 42-28

Earlville lost to Mendota in title game

1936-37          Ottawa District Tournament                       Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to Earlville 33-30

Earlville lost to Leland in 2nd Rd.


1937-38          Steward District Champions                   Coach Earl Horn

                        (early rd District scores needed)

                       Title Game Beat Steward 48-34

                       IHSA Regional Qualifier

                       Won 1st Rd Game (score needed)

                       2nd Rd Lost 37 – 35 to Dixon High School

District Champs
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Rollo HS 1937-38

1938-39 through 1944-45  Postseason scores, records, and coach’s names needed.

1945-46                Somonauk District Tournament         Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to Paw Paw 58-42

PAW PAW (58): Carnahan 15, Torman 14, Daw 10, Wells 7, Marks 5, Henry 5, Jones 2.

ROLLO (42): C. McDowell 13, F. McDowell 9, Thoms 9, Hartman 8, Horn 2.

Paw Paw ;lost to Somonauk in title game

1946-47                Newark District Tournament              Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd Beat Paw Paw 67-47

                             Semi-final lost to Somonauk 46-43

Somonauk lost to Newark in title game

1947-48                Somonauk District Tournament         Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to Newark 47-41

Newark lost to Minooka in title game

Rollo HS Basketball Team 1947-48
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1948-49                Serena District Tournament               Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to Leland 55-42

Leland lost to Minooka in semi-final

Minooka beat Somonauk in tile game

Rollo HS Basketball Team 1948-49
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1949-50                Leland District Champions             Coach Carson DeJarnatt

                             Only 10 boys in entire school

                             1st Rd Beat Earlville 49-38

                             Semi-final Beat Paw Paw 48-38

                             Title Game Beat Minooka 47-35

                             Ottawa Regional Tournament

                             1st Rd lost to Marseilles 49-47

Marseilles lost to Streator in semi-final

Streator lost to Ottawa in title game

                    See article written below by Brian Hoxsey!

District Champions – 1949-50
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Rollo HS
1949-50 District Champs 5 of 9 Players Pictured
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Photo Taken September 18, 2005

Rollo’s District Title in 1950

by Brian Hoxsey

The Eagles entered the Leland District Tournament and were rated last of  the eight teams.  Rollo had defeated Earlville and Paw Paw in the regular season and probably should have been rated ahead of them. Their head coach was Carson DeJarnatt, who went on to be a Hall of Fame wrestling coach at Sterling High School.  Rollo had finished the previous season under DeJarnatt with just three wins in 23 games, but was 13-9 starting post season play and had finished 5-5 in Little Ten Conference play.

There were ten boys in the school in1950 and nine actually played basketball, but one was injured at tournament time and two of the remaining eight were freshman and didn’t play much.  It was left up to five seniors and one junior to lead the team.

In their opening game they were pitted against LTC foe and neighbor to the south Earlville High School.  Rollo led at halftime 24-22 and then outscored the Red Raiders 16-7 in the third quarter to own a 40-29  advantage.  Earlville cut the lead to seven (40-33) early in the fourth  period, but Rollo was able to grab back the momentum and earn a 49-38  victory.  Dan Todd led the Eagles with 15 points, Alvin Benson chipped in  12.  In the second game of the night, Paw Paw upset second-seed Seneca  39-35 to move on to play Rollo in the semifinals.

In their contest against Paw Paw, Rollo held a 11-7 lead after one quarter, but the Bulldogs eventually tied the game at 19-all by halftime.  Phil Buland (12 points), Rollo’s center, controlled the lane in the third frame as the Eagles were in front by six points in the final seconds of the third period before Benson nailed a one-handed shot from half court as the gun sounded to bring the Rollo fans to their feet. The Eagles extended their advantage to 41-29 in the initial minutes of the final quarter and held on for a 48-38 win to move them into the title game against defending district tournament champ Minooka.  Don Landers backed Buland with 10 points, Todd had eight.

Leland, who had upset LTC regular season and tournament champion Serena in the quarterfinals, fell to the much taller Minooka club in the semifinals.  The Panthers never led, but hung with the Indians the entire game. Top-seed Minooka used their clear height advantage over Rollo to grab a 26-21 lead at intermission and were still ahead 34-28 entering the final  quarter. The Eagles’ Robert Catron opened the fourth with a basket from short range, then Wayne Goldsberry hit one from long distance and Buland  followed with a lay up to tie the score. Goldsberry’s basket then gave the underdogs the lead and the Rollo crowd exploded.  The Eagles continued to  hit baskets from all over the court and totally out-played the Indians in the  final minutes; in fact Rollo out-pointed Minooka 19-1 in the final eight minutes and scored 24 of the last 25 points in the game to capture the improbable championship with a 47-35 triumph and a trip to the Ottawa Regional. Buland led Rollo with 15 points, Catron added nine and Goldsberry and Todd eight each.

One side note to the game was that Minooka’s sophomore point-guard was Al Stegman.  Stegman, a Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Famer, was a longtime coach at Harding Grade School and Serena High School.  He also was Serena’s athletic director for many years and the LTC secretary for over a decade.

The day of Rollo’s Regional opener against Marseilles saw a tremendous blizzard hit the area.  Many fans thought the game would be canceled because of the bad weather.  The officials from Kankakee couldn’t get to  the game, but tournament officials hastily arranged for local Ottawa officials to do the game.

The Eagles made the long treacherous trip to Ottawa and had a  47-46 lead in the final moments of the game.  However Panther center Mike Trad converted a pair of free throws in the last seconds to end Rollo’s  “Cinderella” season with a 49-47 loss.  It was a rough game for one of the officials as well as referee Eddie Chlaus fell and broke a bone in his arm, but continued to call the game.

Rollo finished the season with a 16-9 record and of the 47 district tournament champions’ state wide, was probably the smallest and most surprising winners.

1950-51                Earlville District Tournament              Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to Somonauk 48-43

Somonauk lost to Minooka in title game

1951-52                Serena District Tournament               Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to Minooka 98-39

Minooka beat Earlville in title game

1952-53  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1953-54      17 – 7    (final season)                                  Coach’s name & record needed

District Scores Needed

Little Ten Conference Baseball Champs
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Rollo HS 1923


Nearly every boy in the entire high school played every sport.  Imagine having 10 boys in the entire high school and fielding a team of nine for the ball games!!  Rollo did this, and did it well, winning a Little Ten Baseball Conference Championship in 1923!! (see team photo to your right)

DeKalb County Relay Champs – 1916
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Photo taken 1963 – Original Trophy Too!

Boys Track

The Rollo Eagles soared in track as well.  In fact the relay team of 1916 won the DeKalb County championship in their event. (see photo to the right)

If you have any further track and field stories to share regarding the Rollo High School Eagles please share them with us so we can add them to the Rollo High School lore..

Results from a 1929 track meet between Rollo, Plano, Sandwich, Waterman, Leland, and Sheridan were provided by Linda Hess. Looks like a Rollo HS athlete named Rockaband held his own in this meet!

1929 Track Meet

Plano & Waterman-31 pts, Sandwich-30 pts, Leland & Rollo-14 pts, Sheridan-6 pts

¼ mile- Keene(W) (57.9s), Graves(S)-2nd, Boeckenhauer(W)-3rd

high jump- Sorensen(P)-1st (5’9”), Reimann(P)-2nd, Balsey(L)-3rd

broad jump- Sorensen(P)-1st (19’3/4”), Balsey(L)-2nd, Henning(P)-3rd

pole vault- Morey(S)-1st  (11’), Sorensen(P)-2nd, Swanson(W)-3rd

220 low hurdles-Henning(P)-1st (32.2s), Rupp(L)-2nd, Woodard(S)-3rd

Shot put- Morey(S)-1st (41’8”), Rockaband(R)-2nd, Wesson(S)-3rd

50 yd dash-Fay(W)-1st (6.5s), Henning(P)-2nd, Balsey(L)-3rd

100 yd dash- Rockaband(R)-1st (11.6s), Fay(W)-2nd, Graves(S)-3rd

220 yd dash- Rockaband(R)-1st (26.3s), Fay(W)-2nd ,Johnson(SH)-3rd

120 high hurdles-Reimann(P)-1st (20.3),Rupp(L)-2nd ,Thompson(W)-3rd

javelin-Scent(S)-1st (124’2”),Goldsberg(SH)-2nd , Rockaband(R)-3rd

880 yd-  Reingardt(W)-1st (2:22.2),McDougall(W)-2nd ,McKirgan(P)-3rd

Mile run- Felder(S)-1st (5:12.5), Reingardt(W)-2nd ,McDougall(W)-3rd

Discus- Johnson(SH)-1st (94’9”), Wesson(S)-2nd, Dalstell(S)-3rd

mile relay-Waterman-1st (1:46.3min), Sandwich-2nd, Plano-3rd

Grade School Athletics

After the high school closed Rollo enjoyed several more years of great athletic contests through the eyes of the little Eagles.  The Rollo Grade School Eagles finished the 1959-60 season with a record of 14 – 1 and the 1960-61 season at 14 – 5.  Many great athletes of future Shabonna HS teams were from the little hamlet of Rollo.

THE LAST OF THE EAGLES – The Class of 1954
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John Herrick, Charles Foster, Darlene Sinnen, Harriet Welsch, Harold Sevendson, Mildred Bierderbeck

The Last Graduating Class

On May 28, 1954 Rollo High School was host to her last commencement excercise. The six graduates and the entire town could feel the sadness in the air. This poem was written by a Rollo HS alum regarding their beloved Rollo High School:

There is never a life without sadness,

There is never a heart free from pain.

If one seeks in this world for true solace,

He seeks it forever in vain.

So when to your heart comes the sorrow,

Of losing something dear you’ve known.

Tis the touch of God’s sickle of harvest,

Since He reeps the field He has sown.

Special Thank You

Thank you to Charles Foster (pictured in the color photo above to the right) for providing this massive amount of information regarding Rollo High School, one of my favorite pages on this site. You can tell Rollo High School and the village of Rollo had a short but VERY special time in Illinois High School history. Thank you also to Judy Svendsen for an informative and interesting tour of the Paw Paw Township Building which now sits on the site of the former school building. Great job Charles and Judy!

The Eagle Spirit Lives On!!

The third Sunday of every September, every year, brings the Rollo High School Eagle alumni home to roost. A reunion is held at the church in Rollo with a luncheon held afterward.   The pictures below were taken on September 18, 2005, at the most recent alumni reunion.  This is proof positive that the Eagle spirit lives on with great pride!!

Rollo HS Alumni – Classes of 1948-54
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Alumni Reunion September 18, 2005
Rollo HS Reunion September 18, 2005
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Alumni of 1947 and Earlier Classes

Help Us Remember…

…the great stories and many accomplishments of Rollo High School and its students and faculty before there are no longer those around to share them.  We are especially interested in a photo of the old school building as well as great teams of Rollo High School’s brief existence.  You can e-mail us information and photos at or write to us at:

Illinois HS Glory Days

6439 N. Neva St.

Chicago, Il.   60631

Rollo High School Class of 1926
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Submitted by Ed Clapsaddle (His father, Ralph Clapsaddle is in back row, 2nd from left)
Rollo HS Students of 1935
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Submitted by Suzanne Renshaw – Via her Grandmother Harriet Reeder
Rollo HS Students 1935 Pictured Above

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Submitted by Suzanne Renshaw
Rollo HS Students of 1936
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Photo Submitted by Suzanne Renshaw
Rollo HS Students 1935 – in Photo Above

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Submitted By Suzanne Renshaw – Via her Grandmother Harriet Reeder
Rollo HS Christmas Ornament
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Submitted by Roberta Van Briesen

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