In the June of 1964, the K-12 Elmbrook Schools Joint Common School District #21 celebrated its first graduating classes from the Brookfield Central and East high schools.
The combined district was composed of eight other districts in the region that previously ran independently of each other.
The multitude of neighboring school districts was a mess, said Don Siegfried, Elmbrook's first business manager.
Siegfried first worked for the area's school districts in 1955, when Brookfield High School — the only high school in Brookfield — was first opened.
The joint common school district, formed in 1964, led way to great things, Siegfried said.
"It was a struggle to get the schools reorganized," he said. "Everything was kind of uncertain … but once things settled down, people united behind the new district, and we heard very little about going back to 'the good ol' days.'"
Now, the School District of Elmbrook — the district's name changed in 1976 — has its own rich history and will celebrate its 50th anniversary in August.
Getting settled, seeing growth
The combined school district created some harmony in the Brookfield and Elm Grove region, Siegfried said.
"We finally got some uniformity throughout the whole district … in curriculum, tax rates and state aid," Siegfried said. "Although, we did have some growing pains."
Enrollment ballooned in the 1960s and early 70s, he said, before falling in the 80s; but then enrollment jumped back.
As the district grew and more schools were built, the community began to change as well.
"I really think the reorganization of the districts helped to develop the whole area," Siegfried said. "We grew like crazy … and we're still seeing more development (in the community)."
Siegfried retired in 1986, after serving 22 years in the Elmbrook district and nine years before its formation.
"I enjoyed my career immensely," Siegfried said. "It was very challenging — a lot of late hours and overtime — but I found it to be very satisfying."
Celebrating 50 years
Activities honoring the district's "50 Years of Excellence" are scheduled for August 22 and 23; events will include at-home high school football games, alumni athletic competitions and a community gala.
Event details, alumni sign-up forms and alumni, teacher and community partner nomination forms are available on the district website, Elmbrookschools.org.
The Elmbrook Education Foundation is also partnering with the district for the 50th anniversary to kick start its first annual campaign in 2015.
The foundation has not set a goal for the 2015 campaign yet, but in the mean time, hopes the Elmbrook community will participate in its $50 for 50 More Years campaign, said Leslie Dehn, executive director of the foundation.
Each donation of $50 during the campaign will go directly to the foundation's endowment fund, which will be used for future capital expenditures.
"Up until this year, we've always had a large spring gala fundraiser," Dehn said. "We aren't having that this year, but we wanted to do something to save up for next year."
Information about $50 for 50 More Years can be found online at Elmbrookeducationfoundation.org.
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