When Woman’s Club President Ruth Sloot asked the gathered
audience to stand if they had been involved in teaching, over half
Robert Bagby has had a long career in teaching and school
administration. His most recent jobs were in Havana followed by the
office of principal at Chester-East Lincoln. He has been
superintendent of LCHS for the past six years. “This is the best job
I have had. The teachers and support staff are excellent,” he said.
He recounted that visitors to the high school campus always remark
on what a great facility it is and how well cared for.
Bagby said that the student population is also terrific. He went on
to mention the academic and sports extracurricular teams that
represent the school across the state, often bringing awards back to
town. “Ninety eight percent of our students show up every day ready
to learn and are respectful,” he said.
The superior educational atmosphere is evidenced by the scores on
standardized tests, with LCHS having ACT scores four percent higher
than the state average. LCHS had the highest cumulative ACT score in
school history last year.
LCHS has had to change in order to serve a student population that
is constantly evolving. The number of students who live in poverty
has been increasing and the number of students who work has
increased over the past few years. In order to serve these students,
Bagby mentioned several innovative programs that have been
instituted at the school.
The number of students from federally defined low income families
has increased from 25% to 39% over the past six years. In many
cases, students come to school without proper nutrition making it
difficult to learn.
LCHS has started a breakfast program that begins at 7 a.m. There is
always a line ready to enter the cafeteria for breakfast. Bagby
mentioned that in some cases students may not have had a meal since
the school lunch the previous day. LCHS works hard to insure that no
student goes hungry. On Fridays, students in need are given a sack
meal to take home to provide them something to eat over the weekend.
“We often give out gift cards for food at local stores,” Bagby said.
“No food from the cafeteria is thrown away. We make sure that
students in need get any leftovers,” he added.
Students are working more hours at jobs after they leave school for
the day. Many of them work late into the evening. When they get
home, homework still has to be completed. Students often must stay
up late to complete their very busy days. Students work late hours
at what amount to full time jobs after school. This schedule makes
getting to school at 8 a.m. impossible. They need enough sleep to
absorb subjects presented in class.
To help in this area, Bagby and LCHS started an innovative
alternative school three years ago. In the past, alternative schools
acquired the reputation as being for students who were disruptive
while in the regular school; a way to separate them from the regular
student population without expelling them, thus continuing their
The LCHS alternative school also serves a much different
population, those students whose work and family schedules do not
mesh with the standard school hours. This is a vital service. LCHS
graduated 105 students from the alternative school last year. The
grads of the alternative school receive a high school diploma, just
like the one given to those students who attend the traditional high
school. “These are 105 students who may have dropped out because of
various problems. Some of the alternative school grads go on to
attend college,” said Bagby.
The most unusual case of a non-traditional student who attended the
alternative school was an 85 year-old-woman who dropped out of high
school as a teenager. She had always wanted to get her high school
diploma. She attended the LCHS alternative school and received her
diploma during the spring graduation.
As mentioned, LCHS has developed an alternative school and offers
technical education in areas such as automotive technology, culinary
arts, and building trades.
Another area that the high school excels at is college courses in
the school that allow students to earn college credit. LCHS has
partnered with Lincoln College to offer college level classes that
earn high school students college credit. “The classes are taught at
the high school by high school teachers,” said Bagby.
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Lincoln College offers these classes at the local community
college tuition rate. Next year, LCHS will enlarge this program
by linking up with Heartland Community College which will offer
students college level classes that will be accepted by
Heartland. Heartland will offer these classes for free to LCHS
students. But there would be book fees in the cost for college
Not only are LCHS students receiving a first rate education, but
college bound students get a head start on their college careers
at a savings through this program. The college credit program is
one more innovative way Lincoln High School serves the
Robert Bagby offered one final comment as to why LCHS is such a
stellar school. “We could not offer the range of programs that
we do without community involvement,” he said. One area of
cooperation is between LCHS and District 27 schools to insure
that the students from feeder schools to LCHS are prepared for a
more rigorous academic experience.
“The high school board has crafted balanced budgets for the past
six years when 62% of Illinois schools are in the red. And the
high school budgets are such that no cuts have been made to the
academic programs at the school,” Bagby said.
High school class reunions raise money for the food gift card
program. The National Honor Society at the high school holds
fund raisers for high school programs.
One little known community project that has provided vital funds
to the high school is the Lincoln Community High School
Foundation. “The Foundation has provided $83,000 in
scholarships,” said Bagby. Some of the recipients of
scholarships are students who participate in the alternative
school, as well as students who receive scholarships for
college. One local patron of the high school provides a
full-ride, four year academic scholarship to one fortunate LCHS
student on a biennial schedule. The foundation’s financial
success is thanks in part to free administration by a Lincoln
financial services firm. There are no administrative costs
associated with the foundation, so 100 percent of the proceeds
are available to invest in the future success of LCHS students.
Robert Bagby says, “I learn something new on the job every day.”
Given the fast paced changes of our society, that is to be
expected. To maintain the excellent reputation it has acquired
over the years, Lincoln Community High School needs a staff that
embraces change and can come up with innovative programs that
will keep its graduates in the top tier of Illinois high
It also takes a community willing to support its public school
system wholeheartedly. Lincoln has all of the necessary pieces
for educational excellence, engaged students, committed and
dedicated staff, and community involvement.
The Lincoln Woman’s Club is dedicated to community involvement,
and its members are active volunteers in many local projects.
The Woman’s Club has provided over a century of service to
Lincoln. It is a member of the General Federation of Women’s
Clubs, an international organization. The club meets monthly at
their building at 230 N. McLean Street. The Lincoln Woman’s Club
website can be checked for information on upcoming presentations
and membership. It is
www.lincoln.gfwcillinois.org. President Ruth Sloot is
also available to answer questions. She may be contacted at
217-737-0156, or online at