Before the Village of Ilion was incorporated, the area was composed of two hamlets called Morgan’s Landing and London. The first known school was a one-story wooden building in the eastern part of town on what is now East Main Street where one teacher taught all students from the late 1820s to 1840s. As the population of the area increased due to the growth of gun manufacturer Remington Arms, the Village of Ilion, New York was incorporated in 1852 and a “stone building” was constructed on Morgan Street to educate students. By 1865 the stone building was abandoned and a new multi-story Morgan Street School was built in the same location. This would be Ilion’s main school building for the next three decades until two elementary schools were built in 1897 and 1906. By 1910, Ilion’s population had increased eight-fold to 6,500 thereby creating a need for a larger high school. In 1913, the original three-story unit of Ilion High School was built, which would house the secondary students for the next fifty years. Morgan Street School closed in 1926 and was razed in 1927. Additions to Ilion High School were built in 1925, 1927, 1951, and 1957. It was during the first expansion project from 1925 to 1926 when the first Ilion High School Mirror, an annual yearbook created by students with faculty assistance, was started. While there were some yearbooks published before 1925, they were not given this name. From 1926 onward until 2013, the annual was consistently called the “Mirror” with the exception of 1932-1936.
In 1963, a tragic fire destroyed the high school building and a fireman was killed in the blaze. Three years later a new Ilion High School opened on the same site and over the next forty-five years several renovation and expansion projects were completed to enhance the education of Ilion’s students. Following the “Great Recession” of 2007-2008, when there was a severe financial panic in the United States, school districts throughout the country experienced drastic cuts in aid from state governments. That was the case locally with Ilion and other nearby communities suffering the effects of the economic downturn. Rather than weather the storm, a vote to merge four local school districts, Frankfort, Herkimer, Ilion, and Mohawk, was slated for 2012. After several committee meetings, an advisory vote was held with only Frankfort not electing to move forward with the merger. Following a referendum in October 2012, only Ilion and Mohawk decided to merge. Herkimer voted the merger down just as Frankfort had done earlier in the year. Because Herkimer voted no in the binding referendum, the merger process should have ended. However, the New York State Legislature passed a special law allowing Ilion and Mohawk to conduct another vote in February 2013. Thus, the two districts voted yes to merge their schools. As a result, on July 1, 2013, the Ilion Central School District dissolved along with Mohawk to form the Central Valley School District. The history of Ilion High School, its early yearbooks, and its eighty-eight “Mirrors” have now been preserved for posterity.
Scope of Collection
The Ilion High School Yearbook Collection contains ninety-two annual publications about the students, teachers, administration, sports, and activities of the school. In the early years, there are yearbooks only for 1909, 1911, 1922, and 1924. From 1926 to 1931 and 1937 until 2013 yearbooks were published every year under the name “Mirror.” From 1932 to 1936, the yearbooks had various names. For most years, the senior class created the yearbooks, but in later years some juniors assisted with the project. Faculty advisors were selected to supervise the publication and were often cited in the yearbook for their efforts in making it successful. While the format of the annuals has been kept mostly intact with photos, dedication, and other information about the students, faculty, staff, sports, and activities, features were added over the years such as “Class Mosts,” in which individual students were selected for superlatives such as “Most Likely to Succeed, Class Clown, or “Best Dressed” and a “World Beat” section on current events. The Mirror ended in 2013 when the Ilion and Mohawk schools merged to form a new district called Central Valley.