Stonington (population 960) is located in central Illinios in upper-eastern Christian County. The town is located about 18 miles southwest of Decatur on Illinois Route 48. The Buckhart Creek flows through the northwest side of town. The Norfolk & Western Railroad shadows Route 48 through the heart of Stonington.
The history of the town of Stonington and its former high school are both in need of research. Rick Thomas (Class of 1977) provided the following historical information regarding Stonington High School’s beginning:
“According to Venus Holben, born 1881 and died in 1974, she remembered Stonington having classes in 1893-1896 at a building that no longer existed. I have seen the old photos of the classes of 1895-1900, and these photos once were kept on the third floor of the high school. I do not know what happened to these photos or if they were archived. The brick, three-story school was built in 1899-1900, and opened in late summer 1900.”
Stonington High School was in session beginning in 1893 at the latest. It served Stonington and the surrounding farm kids for approximately nine decades. The late 1980s saw a consolidation movement with the schools of the north Christian County area. The year was 1992 that the residents of Stonington agreed to consolidate their educational efforts with those of Taylorville, their neighbor to the southwest.
Stonington High School Message Board – 2008
Submitted by Dennis Downey
The Stonington High School building has since been razed.
Stonington High School Quick Facts
Year opened: late 1800s / 1893
Year closed: 1992
Consolidated to: Taylorville School District
SHS team nickname: the “Wildcats”
SHS team colors: Red & White
School Fight Song: “We’re Loyal to You Stonington”
We’re loyal to you Stonington
We’re red and white, Stonington
We’ll back you to stand
‘Gainst the best in the land
For we know you have sand, Stonington
So crack out the ball, Stonington
We’re backing you all, Stonington
Our team is our fame protector:
On! Boys for we expect a
Victory from you Stonington!
Stonington HS Gymnasium
We know through research on the IHSA website (www.ihsa.org) that Stonington High School competed in the boys sports of baseball, basketball, and track. The girls later competed in the sports of basketball, volleyball, and track. Other sports may have been offered such as football and softball. We are in need of the school team nickname, colors, fight song, and other interesting facts about the Stonington HS athletic program.
The folks of Stonington loved their basketball team. A total of 12 District titles, 7 Regional titles, one Sectional title, and an Elite 8 appearance made for some great Friday night fun during the winters in Stonington.
Stonington High School Gym Center Circle Mascot
Photo by Julie Solliday, Submitted by Bill Colbrook
One name defined the program for the last 28 years of the school’s existence. That name was Coach Jack Dettro. From 1957-58 through 1991-92 Coach Dettro led the Stonington boys out onto the hardwood court. Coach Dettrocompiled a record of 646 – 291 in his 36 years at the healm of the Stonington boys basketball program. This record placed Coach Dettro#21 in all-time victories and #14 all-time for victories at one school. As you can see, appropriately, the Stonington HS Gymnasium was named in honor of one of Illinois High School’s all-time great coaches, Jack Dettro.
1984-85 24 – 3 Regional Champions Coach Jack Dettro
Blue Mound Regional Tourney
1st Rd Beat Mt. Auburn 60-49
semi-Final Beat Macon 64-62 (O/T)
Title Game Beat Niantic-Harristown 50-48
Shelbyville Sectional Tourney
Semi-final lost to Mt. Pulaski 63-61
Mt. Pulaski lost in Sweet 16 Round.
1985-86 18 – 9 Coach Jack Dettro
1986-87 20 – 6 Regional Champions! Coach Jack Dettro
Harristown Regional Tourney
1st Rd Beat Blue Mound 71-43
Semi-Final Beat Mt. Auburn 47-45
Title Game Beat Bethany 50-49
Shelbyville Sectional Tourney
Semi-final lost to Buffalo Tri-City 68-59
Tri-City won Sectional title.
Tri-City lost in Sweet 16 Round
1987-88 20 – 7 Coach Jack Dettro
1988-1992 Coach Jack Dettro
**The following information was found in the 1981-82 IHSA Tournament program by Mark Jurenga regarding the Elite 8 team of the same season:
Stonington High School 1982 Elite 8 Finalists
Courtesy of Chuck Martz
Standing in Rear: Coach Jack Dettro, Mike Beck, David Curtin, Tony Roth, Bruce Brauer, Bob Colbrook, Gerry Myers, Steve Bollinger
Knealing: Brian Burnett, Bruce Olsen, Mike Blakeman, Jim Pollock, Danny Blakeman, Eric Swigert, Michael Johonson.
“When Mike Beck crosses halfcourt, the four-year starter is within range. That may be an overstatement, but Beck is deadly from the 22 to 25 foot mark. He’s averaging 21 points per game while running mate Tony Roth, also a four-year regular, adds 12 points per outing. While Roth and Beck take care of the outside, 6-2 center Steve Bollinger handles the inside. Bollinger contributes 18 points and a bushel of rebounds per contest. “We like the running game,” Stonington coach Jack Dettro, in his 25th year, said. “We get a lot of baskets off of the transition game.” The Wildcat winning streak was 17 games after sectional action. Stonington’s enrollment is 133 and this is the first Wildcat showing in the “Sweet Sixteen”
Coach Jack Dettro was in his 25th year with a record of 485-193.
In the Super-Sectional and Quarterfinal games, Mike Beck would combine for 44 points, while Tony Roth totaled 21 points. Gerry Myers had 17 rebounds in the two games.
Incredible run of success by the Stonington boys basketball program!!!
The Stonington boys baseball team won a Regional title as well. Unfortunately the team record of this and other great SHS diamond teams are not currently available.
1981-82 Regional Champions Coach Tony DeMichael
The girls competed in softball as well. Information is needed including coaches names, season records, and individual successes.
The Lady netters of Stonington High had some nice seasons of their own. The girls won a District and Regional title. Unfortunately, again, this is the extent of the information we have regarding this program.
1977-78 District Champions
1988-89 Regional Champions
The Stonington High School linksters had some great success in the early 1980s. In fact the team of 1981-82, which has an Elite 8 baskeball appearance and the schol’s only Regional title in baseball, finshed NINTH in IHSA competition in boyus golf as well. Matches for SHS meets were played at the Taylorville golf course.
1981-82 Team Finished NINTH in IHSA STATE Competition!! Coach Tony DeMichael
Final Team Standings
1) Elgin (St. Edward) 660
2) Dunlap 663
2) West Frankfort (Frankfort) 663
4) Benton 671
5) Rochester 672
6) Somonauk 676
7) Petersburg (PORTA) 677
8) Elmhurst (Immac.Concep.) 684
9) STONINGTON HIGH SCHOOL 725
1984-85 Regional Champions
BOYS TRACK & FIELD
Five male tracksters from Stonington High won medals at the IHSA State Track Meet over the years. One, Bernard Livergood, was even crowned STATE CHAMPION in the ‘B’ Meet Long Jump in 1920!!
1918-19B Kenneth Boyle 120 Yard High Hurdles 2ND Place
1919-20B Bernard Livergood Long Jump STATE CHAMPION!!
50 Yard Dash 3RD Place
Harold Shrout Discus 3RD Place
1950-51 Ben Carpenter Long Jump 5TH Place
1966-67 Joe Curtin 440 Yd Run Conf. Champ
1981-82A Tony Roth 200 Meter Dash 3RD Place
*Bernard Livergood, 1919-20 State Long Jump Champion went on to play for one of college football’s more storied programs. Bernard was a member of the 1922, 1923, and 1924 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football teams. As you may recall, this was the Knute Rockne era with the infamous “Four Horsemen”. Bernard was a backup fullback for Elmer Leyden!
1924 Notre Dame Fighting Irish National Championship Team (10-0-0)
LE *Chuck Collins, 6-0, 177; *Clem Crowe, 5-9, 169; Joe Rigali, 5-9, 147
Tim Bollinger, Kevin Kruger, John Michel, John Blakeman.
Rick Thomas tells us that “According to Mr. Tom Doyle who went to high school in the 1930s (football player, pharmacist, and county coroner), Stonington had a football team for about 7 years in the 1930s. In a game at Stonington against rival Blue Mound in 1939, one of the school’s football players died and another was badly hurt, and the experience weighed heavy on the people so the town dropped its team after that season.”
EXTRA CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES
We know that band, chorus, and other activities were offered at Stonington High School. It is probable that clubs such as FFA, FHA, student government, and many other opportunities were available for the Stonington High School kids to participate in.
Rick Thomas tells us:
” Through the 1960s until it closed in 1992, Mr. John Reid led the school band. Sometimes 60% of a class was in the band. For a time in the 1970s, there also was a jazz band and a marching band. The band and marching band earned “first” ratings at statewide contests, parades, and homecomings. Many students earned “first” ratings in regional and state competitions. For instance, I earned state/regional “first” ratings for a solo and a duo on a double french horn.”
*Susan Nolen (1959-2013; Class of 1977; co-valedictorian), received her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania (summa cum laude), taught at Stanford University, the University of Michigan, and until January 2013, was a professor and chair of Yale University’s Department of Psychology. Her research focused on depression and mood regulation. Dr. Nolen-Hoeksema received three major teaching awards and numerous awards for her research on depression, mood regulation, and gender, including the David Shakow Early Career Award from the American Psychological Association, and the the Leadership Award from the Committee on Women of the American Psychological Association. Her research was funded by grants from private foundations and the National Institute of Mental Health. Dr. Nolen-Hoeksema published over 100 research articles and 12 books, including scholarly books, textbooks, and three books for the general public on women’s mental health. (Information probided by Rick Thomas)
It is remembered by Brad Besson (Class of 1984) that “Super Fan” Archie Gilmore was a staunch supporter of the school and a great man.
**From Class of 1983 alum Dan Blakeman:
“The seniors from 1981-82 season won an 8th grade class A basketball championship in 1978. Tony DeMichael was also the coach of those seniors when they were in the 8th grade. Some years later after Stonington annexed into the Taylorville school district Tony DeMicheael coached an 8th grade girls AA team that also won a state championship. Allison Curtin, a name that is familiar in High School AA girls and University of Illinois Women’s Basketball, was on that team. Allison is from Stonington.
I played for both Tony DeMichael and Jack Dettro and was a junior on the 1981-82 basketball and baseball teams. My grandfather, Florian (nickname Flindy) DeMichael coached Jr. High Basketball at Stonington for roughly 30 years. When he retired Tony, his nephew, took the helm of the Jr. High basketball program. Tony also played basketball and baseball in high school for Jack Dettro.
Jack was obviously a very successful high school basketball coach. He also made playing basketball for him very fun. His motto was that “high school kids go out for sports to have fun.” After pausing he would add “and winning is more fun than losing”.”
From Dan Campbell (Class of 1990):
“I graduated from Stonington HIgh School in the class of 1990 with a graduating class of only 12. Band Teacher John Reid had a great influence upon me. I believe he taught band and choir right up until the school closing in 1992. He used to close the school choir concerts with The Lord Bless You And Keep You. He also taught Jazz band which was a favorite personal music style for him. I was sad to see in the newspaper that the high school building was torn down.”
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