ROYAL OAK — With much pomp, Royal Oak High School celebrated 100 years of educating its residents April 25.
Notable alumni, including Mayor Jim Ellison and Board of Education President Gary Briggs, and current faculty spoke inside an auditorium packed with current and former students.
The halls of the school were filled with tours of the building and the music of various high school bands.
Royal Oak High School’s Chamber Singers sang the alma maters to the two former high schools, Dondero and Kimball high schools, before the audience was treated to a music video presentation put together by the high school’s current students.
“The leaders of this growing community had the foresight and the common sense to realize that, in order for this community to grow, they needed to provide an education for its young people,” said Ellison, who graduated in 1970.
The city built the first high school in 1913. Within 15 years it outgrew that building, so the city built a second school in 1928. In the 1950s, the high school split into two buildings when Clarence M. Kimball High School opened in 1957. Finally, in 2006, the high schools consolidated into Kimball, which is now called Royal Oak High School.
Ellison is an alumnus of the school district. He also put all eight of his children through Royal Oak schools, and his first grandchild will be starting high school next year.
That fact led the master of ceremonies and interim Principal Jim Moll to quip, “Some folks call him mayor; with eight kids, we call him job security.”
Superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin thanked the community for supporting education and, more specifically, thanked them for approving a sinking fund for building maintenance.
“I want to thank the community for that vote this fall and for all that it’s going to mean in the future,” Lewis-Lakin said.
He said the community and the schools are linked in helping each other rise.
“I’m incredibly grateful for what has been and what is, and I’m incredibly excited and optimistic about that which shall be — the future of Royal Oak High School.”
He then introduced the high school to its next principal, Mike Van Camp, who during brief remarks first thanked Moll for his continued help during Van Camp’s transition from L’Anse Creuse Middle School East, where he currently serves as principal.
“I couldn’t have asked for anything more — your graciousness, your willingness to help, your advice. And I hope I can keep asking for that for a while,” Van Camp said.
He said he was proud to become part of the community.
“I look forward to being part of the next 100 years,” Van Camp concluded.
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