The History of Rankin School District #98
Rankin School District #98 History
The first recorded deed in the history of the Rankin District goes back over 100 years to the date of May 8, 1875. At this time the Rankin School property consisted of a piece of land 165 feet long and 132 feet deep and was purchased at a price of $ 50. The first actual school house was built sometime in the late 1800’s, but it has long since burnt down. Over the years “Rankin School” has been “housed” in several different buildings and private homes, culminating in the present school building which is located on Fifth Street extended south out of Pekin approximately 2.7 miles.
Back in 1955 in the portions of land which now comprise the Rankin School District in the townships of Cincinnati, Elm Grove, and Sand Prairie, there were five little one-room schools each having just a few students in grades 1-8. These schools carried the names of Enterprise, Oak Hill, Bequeath, Island, and Rankin. Island School was located in what is now the west end of Rankin School District located behind the gravel pit, approximately 1 mile west of the Commonwealth Edison Power Plant and ½ mile south of Manito blacktop. Oak Hill was situated about ¾ mile east of South Pekin at the Fourteenth Street intersection. Bequeath School was west of Route 29 and approximately ¾ mile due south of the Commonwealth Edison Power Plant. Enterprise School was located 3 miles south of Pekin on South Fourteenth Street and about 1 and ½ miles east up to Red Shale Hill. And finally, Rankin School was located in the Old V.F.W. glazed brick building that burnt down just a few years ago where the present V.F.W. basement structure still remains.
In the fall of 1955 the first four schools mentioned above annexed with the Rankin School and formed the present territory of the Rankin School District #98. The name —“Rankin School”—comes from the long-time resident family with the last name Rankin who used to own a lot of land around the old V.F.W. property. Rankin School District #98 operated in the first fall of its present existence with 52 students in two buildings and with just 3 teachers. Nina Thompson had the first and second graders in the Oak Hill building, while third, fourth, and fifth graders were all taught together in the basement of the old V.F.W. building. Sixth, seventh, and eighth graders were all taught together in one classroom on the first floor of the same building.
Construction on the oldest part of the present school building began back in 1955 when the school board at that time purchased about 3 acres of ground from Mr. & Mrs. Paul Reuter. The gym building and the classrooms around it are the oldest of our four buildings which are now all joined together to form one larger complex. Some 11 years later, in 1966, the west portion of our school complex was added. In 1979, the tornado shelter and classroom building located on the east side were built and were occupied during the 1980-81 school year. On October 3, 2004, the present Jr. High addition was dedicated which includes the 5th, 6th, 7th, & 8th grade classrooms, gymnasium, music room, Sp. Ed classroom, computer lab, conference room & main office area. In 2018, a new classroom addition opened housing grades 3-5.