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U46 may rename Sheridan after former Principal O’Neal

Sheridan Elementary School Elgcould get new name if proposal honor its former principal late RO'Neal is approved by school board.

Sheridan Elementary School in Elgin could get a new name if a proposal to honor its former principal, the late Ron O'Neal, is approved by the school board. | Emily McFarlan Miller/Sun-Times Media

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Sheridan School history

The original Sheridan School built in 1888 was called Hill Street School.

Hill Street School, located at 501 Ann St. in Elgin, opened its doors in 1889.

In 1898, Hill Street School was renamed Sheridan Elementary, apparently to honor Philip Henry Sheridan, a Civil War union general who died that year.

U46 and local historians have found no record of any ties between Gen. Sheridan and the Elgin area. The district did note that in 1871, Sheridan did oversee military relief efforts after the Great Chicago Fire and later was a key figure in developing “The Camp at Highwood,” renamed Fort Sheridan in 1888, just north of Chicago.

In 1973, a new Sheridan Elementary School was opened at 510 Franklin Blvd., directly south of the old school, and the old school was torn down.

Source: School District U46

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Updated: November 4, 2013 12:07PM

ELGIN — School District U46 is considering renaming Sheridan Elementary School in honor of the late Ron O’Neal, who was an administrator with the district for 40 years and was its first African-American principal.

The district will host a town hall meeting at 6 p.m. Oct. 15 at the school, 510 Franklin Blvd., to seek public input on the proposal.

Former U46 teacher and administrator Ralph Vaughan submitted the nomination request to rename Sheridan in honor of O’Neal. He credited what he described as O’Neal’s four decades of dedicated service to the district and civic engagement.

A release from the district noted that O’Neal went to work for U46 in 1970, serving as Sheridan Elementary principal from 1970 to 1974. During that time, the current Sheridan Elementary school building opened its doors in 1973. O’Neal also served as principal of Larsen Middle School in Elgin from 1974 to 1994, principal of Elgin High School from 1994 to 2001, and interim administrator of Gifford Street High School in Elgin following his retirement.

Before joining the district, O’Neal was a teacher at Lincoln Elementary School in Centralia. He chaired the master’s degree program in the College of Education at Aurora University in Aurora after retiring from U46.

O’Neal passed away in December 2009 at the age of 68.

Vaughan’s nominating letter also noted that O’Neal served on many civic boards in the Elgin area, including Big Brothers/Big Sisters, YMCA, PADS (Public Action to Deliver Shelter) of Elgin, Elgin Police and Fire Commission, a city committee to have Elgin named an “All American” City, and the Kane County State’s Attorney Second Chance Program.

While at U46, O’Neal was named the 1996 Kane County Educator of the Year and earned the designation of “Exemplary Instructional Leader” from the Illinois Principals Association.

“We look forward to receiving feedback from the U46 community on the nomination to rename a school in honor of Ronald O’Neal,” Superintendent José Torres said in the release. “Mr. O’Neal’s long-standing commitment to our students and our community deserves our utmost consideration.”

Under school board policy, the district must elicit public input on the nomination and put the proposal before the board for a vote. People who wish to submit written testimony may do so by visiting or send it via email to If the board approves the renaming, the new name would not take effect until the 2014-15 school year, the release said.

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