As JoAnne Celba leaned out the window of the white 1966 Mustang to wave during the Mundelein High School Homecoming Parade, the trip down Hawley Street must have brought back plenty of memories. The Vernon Hills resident was part of the first class to graduate MHS after the school opened exactly 60 years ago.
One thing she remembered was how her friends were upset about leaving Libertyville High School after the 1960-61 school year.
It was the fall of 1961 and Mundelein High School had just opened, splitting off from Libertyville High School. Students would have preferred to finish school with the same group of friends and classmates they had during their first three years of high school.
“Everybody was upset about leaving Libertyville for our last year of high school,” said Celba, who was JoAnne Stenborg in high school.
Still, there were some advantages. It was a huge boost to some of the athletes who didn’t have the opportunity to participate at Libertyville High School. Now, with a smaller school and less competition, more kids had a chance to play.
It was also the goal of the MHS staff in its first year to bring the students together and build cohesiveness among the group. These students had the unique opportunity to do something special.
“We were involved in picking the school song, the colors, even the Mustang,” Celba recalls. “We were involved in all the start-up activities. And we got close to people we might normally have.”
As it turns out, it was a good year for Celba as well. She was elected to the school’s first-ever Homecoming Court and started dating a boy she had known since eighth grade. That boy, Terry Celba, was not only her high school sweetheart, he became her husband in 1966. They stayed married until Terry passed away in May of 2020.
But many of her old classmates from that first MHS Class of ‘62 are still around in the area. Celba, a resident of Vernon Hills, remains friends with several of them. On Friday, she represented her class in the school’s homecoming parade.
It was the second time she had been in the parade, with 60 years in between. It was like a trip down memory lane.