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Memories that last a lifetime

The Joseph Sears School has nearly a dozen standing school traditions, some of which date back to the 1930s. Parents, teachers and students at Joseph Sears participate in these traditions each year which build lasting friendships and form memories that last a lifetime.

Traditions at The Joseph Sears School

The Annual Art Exhibit

Joseph Sears students in kindergarten through eighth grade create numerous drawings, sculptures and paintings in their art classes throughout fall, winter and into spring. Student artwork is displayed throughout the building and in April, parents are invited to tour the building with their children to view the various pieces during The Joseph Sears School Annual Art Exhibit. The Art Exhibit tradition began in 1975.


Every year on the first Thursday of June, the principal presents candidates for graduation to the Kenilworth Board of Education. During the ceremony, each graduate who has had a previous generation (e.g. parent, grandparent, great-grandparent) attend Joseph Sears is recognized and the names of that graduate's relatives are read. Relatives in attendance are invited to stand and be recognized. Joseph Sears graduates either wear a white dress or a combination of a blue blazer and khaki pants.

Graduation Parade

Upon the conclusion of the graduation ceremony and a reception for the graduates, a parade ensues. Graduates break off into pairs and ride in special vehicles, usually driven by their parents or relatives, and parade around the village to cheers from members of the Kenilworth community. A final graduation party for the graduates takes place after the parade.

Graduation Parade Route

Family Fun Day

The Joseph Sears Parents' Volunteer Association sponsors Family Fun Day each year prior to the start of school. Family Fun Day is an opportunity for parents and children to spend time together, catch up with old friends and get to know new families in the district.


Scamper is the annual Girl Scouts variety show performed in January for Joseph Sears students, parents and the Kenilworth community. The Scamper performance originated in 1943 as a way for Girl Scouts to thank the Kenilworth community for their support (and the purchase of cookies!) The tradition continues on as Girl Scouts in grades four through eight entertain through dance, song and performance skits. While technically not a school tradition, Scamper is produced, written and performed almost exclusively by Joseph Sears students and parents, the latter of which are affectionately referred to as "Scamper Moms."

The Halloween Parade

Halloween at Joseph Sears means costumes, candy and, of course, the annual Halloween parade! Joseph Sears students and teachers dress in costumes and parade around the school where parents and neighbors (often dressed up themselves) line up to cheer them on. Halloween parties are held in classrooms immediately following the parade and the Village of Kenilworth usually has trick-or-treat take place later that night.

"We The People"

In connection with their studies of the Constitution and the events that led to the founding of the United States of America, the fifth grade class performs a series of historically-accurate songs and skits each year entitled, "We the People." The performance, which occurs in late spring, marks the beginning of the transition from elementary school to junior high at Joseph Sears.

Field Day (Tigers and Wildcats)

Field Day is a special tradition at The Joseph Sears School celebrated through competition between the tigers (blue) and wildcats (white) in sporting events, track meets and relay races. Each new student is designated as either a tiger or a wildcat when they arrive at The Joseph Sears School. The designations are made by family, meaning a student inherits the designation given to his or her first relative that attended Joseph Sears.

Annual Benefit

The Joseph Sears School Parents' Volunteer Association holds a benefit fundraiser each year to raise money for activities and projects that support Joseph Sears students and faculty. The fundraiser culminates in a donor benefit party in the spring, which dates back to the JSSPVA's inception in the late 1960s. In recent years, the Benefit has included a service component where classes perform service projects throughout the year to raise money for charity.

The 8th Grade Play

In the 1920s, then-Superintendent Elmer Nygaard had Joseph Sears 8th grade student perform one of Shakespeare's plays before the Kenilworth community. The tradition continued with each passing tradition and lives on today. The play, which has become an informal rite of passage for graduating Joseph Sears students, is performed by the entire 8th grade class with support from parents and the faculty from the Performing Arts Department.

Other Class Traditions

In addition to the traditions listed above, there are several regularly-occurring events and activities that take place at Joseph Sears:


  • Kindergarten Adventures: On the first day of school, kindergarteners listen to stories and participate in activities as if they were on an adventure.

First Grade

  • Mystery Readers: Throughout the year, parents, teachers and surprise guests visit classrooms to read stories to students.
  • Zero the Hero: On the 100th day of school, Zero the Hero pays a visit to The Joseph Sears School to lead students in counting and reading activities.

Second Grade

  • Bicycle Safety Day: Kenilworth Police officers visit Joseph Sears to talk about bicycle safety with students in May. Police then help students inspect and register their bicycles.

Third Grade

  • Stitching Samplers: Since 1933, third graders have been designing and stitching pioneer samplers. They practice their fine motor skills as they creatively select their sampler title and design. This project is connected to the study of pioneer life and how Chicago began and grew as a city.
  • Word Parade: Third grade students showcase their work to parents in the form of an annual parade.

Fourth Grade

  • Box Parade: As part of their geography classes, students dress in costume and design shoeboxes representative of states. They parade around the building and showcase their work to parents and students in primary grades.

Fifth Grade

  • (We The People)

Sixth Grade

  • Drop-In Invitation: Sixth grade marks the first year of junior high and the first year students are invited to attend the "Drop-In" dance.

Seventh Grade

  • Springfield Field Trip: Seventh graders travel by bus to Springfield, IL in April for a two-night, three-day field trip to the state capital.

Eighth Grade

  • (8th Grade Play)
  • 8th Grade Beach Party: Eighth graders participate in a beach party hosted by parents at the beginning of the school year.
  • 8th Grade Mother/Daughter Dance: Mothers and daughters participate in a dance held off-campus.
  • Halloween Surprise: ???
  • Washington D.C. Field Trip: Eighth graders make a two-night, three-day trip to the nation's capital in the fall to accompany their social sciences unit on government.