Wilmette, Community

The McKenzie Connection: Parents and former students go back to where it started for improvised reunion

Jennifer Nash meant no disrespect to Wilmette’s other renowned schools, but for her, nothing compares to McKenzie Elementary.

“It is the heart of Wilmette,” she said. “It is a special, special, special place, and not just for the kids, but for the parents too.”

Offering evidence to Nash’s claim were the 50 some former McKenzie parents and students who returned to the school grounds for an impromptu reunion on Friday, May 27 — about 13 years after they were first introduced.

Former students and parents of McKenzie Elementary School gather on the school’s playground on May 27. | Photo Submitted

The meetup was the brainchild of Mike and Rebecca Lieber, who thought it would be fun to gather the pending high school graduates and their parents at the place where their local education began.

The Liebers posted an invite in the Facebook group Parents of New Trier and Mike Lieber was nervous about how many people were going to show up to a Wilmette grammar school about eight years removed from direct association with it.

McKenzie teacher Kris Uhler chats with former students Peter Goldstein (middle) and Beccan Simon.

But about 20 minutes into the event the blacktop was bustling with smiles, hugs and chatter from dozens of neighbors.

District 39 School Board member Frank Panzica — with his son, Adam — was one of the parents who dropped in.

“In kindergarten through fourth grade, you build friendships that last through high school,” Panzica said. “Half of my son’s friends are from McKenzie.

“It’s bittersweet. Adam is our only child, but it is nice to see faces I haven’t seen in years.”

Wilmette’s Saloni Desharnais (right) talks with her fellow parents at the event.

Longtime McKenzie teacher Kris Uhler also came out to mingle with her former students and chat with their parents.

The Record is a nonprofit, nonpartisan community newsroom that relies on reader support to fuel its independent local journalism.

Subscribe to The Record to fund responsible news coverage for your community.

Already a subscriber? You can make a tax-deductible donation at any time.

joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

Related Stories