The Village of Mt. Zion, located nine miles southeast of Decatur, has a population of approximately 5,000. The Mt. Zion School District includes an area of 68 square miles with a population of over 14,000. The total Macon County population, including the City of Decatur, is approximately 110,000. It includes a substantial amount of grain farming: corn, soybeans, wheat and oats. Commuter service at the Decatur Airport allows Mt. Zion to be less than an hour by air to a major airport. Mt. Zion is located approximately one hundred seventy-five miles from Chicago, one hundred thirty miles from St. Louis, and one hundred fifty miles from Indianapolis.
The Mt. Zion School District #3 serves a highly capable student population in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grades. The student population is approximately 2,450. There are 150 certified staff members in the Mt. Zion School District in addition to 110 educational support staff.
There are two elementary schools, with one PreK-1 building and another 2-3 facility. The Mt. Zion School District offers both all-day and half-day kindergarten options to all parents. The Intermediate School, grades 4-6, with an enrollment of approximately 550 moved to a new facility in 2001. The Junior High School, grades 7 and 8, has approximately 400 students, and the Senior High School has approximately 800 students. All school facilities are air-conditioned.
Mt. Zion is well known as a leader in technology and technology-related curriculum throughout Central Illinois; the District has recently begun implementation of National Technology Standards for all students. All computers in the District are connected by a WAN (Wide Area Network) with a fiber optic backbone that provides access to the Internet.
The curriculum of the School District is designed to challenge students’ abilities at all levels. The elementary school program is strong in reading, language arts, math, science, and social studies. Specialists teach the areas of music, physical education and art. Formal gifted programming extends throughout the District. Computers are available to students in all elementary classrooms. McGaughey Elementary has 73 computers in the classroom and offices; Mt. Zion Grade has 52 computers in the classroom and offices. Wireless 24-laptop portable computer labs have just been added at McGaughey and at Mt. Zion Grade.
The Intermediate School offers outstanding facilities and programs, including daily band, vocal music, and physical education; Spanish and Pre-algebra are also offered to sixth grade students. The Intermediate has an instrumental strings program and a sixth grade Honors Choir. Keyboarding is taught to all fourth, fifth and sixth graders. The school has over 94 IBM PCs located throughout the building in classrooms, offices and two dedicated computer labs.
The Junior High School is housed in a recently renovated building. The pupil-teacher ratio is one teacher per twenty-two students. Industrial arts, foreign language, art, home economics, and a wide variety of other courses are offered, including excellent instrumental and vocal music programs. The Junior High School has over 98-networked IBM PCs throughout the facility.
The Senior High School offers a wide variety of both vocational and college preparatory courses including Advanced Placement and dual credit classes. Courses in the Mathematics Department include advanced algebra, trigonometry, calculus, and advanced calculus. The Science Department offers several courses including medical science, biology, physics, advanced chemistry, and botany. A wide variety of courses are included in the English Department, along with an accelerated program. High School students can enroll in college courses prior to graduation and receive dual credit for certain classes. The High School has over 180 IBM PCs networked in classrooms, offices and four computer labs; a 30-laptop wireless computer lab has just been added.
The Music Department has several fine programs, including Show Choir and Band; numerous options exist in the Vocational/Technical Department as well. Swingsations, the Mt. Zion High School Show Choir, has won numerous State and National competitions and performs across the country. The Mt. Zion High School Band has competed in Orlando, Florida and Washington, D.C. The Vocational Department has over fifty students enrolled in work co-op programs. In addition to this program, seventy students are bused daily to the Area Technical Academy in Decatur and to the Richland Community College campus.
Interscholastic sports for boys are offered in football, soccer, cross-country, golf, basketball, track, tennis, wrestling, and baseball. Girls participate in basketball, volleyball, track, softball, golf, tennis, cross country, and soccer.
Universities that serve Mt. Zion and the immediate area include the following: University of Illinois (at Champaign), Eastern Illinois University (at Charleston), Illinois State University (at Normal), and University of Illinois at Springfield. Millikin Universityand Richland Community College are both located in the City of Decatur. All of the above schools are within a fifty-mile radius of Mt. Zion.
Sports and recreation in the local area include the following: several golf courses in the Decatur area, four lakes within a half-hour's driving time, several state parks located nearby, and numerous historical sites located in Springfield, including the new Abraham Lincoln museum.
There are more than eighteen churches located in the Mt. Zion School District, representing most religious denominations. However, the diversity of the Macon County Community is probably best exemplified by its industry: a large Pittsburgh Plate Glass Industries Plant located in the Mt. Zion School District, plus a Caterpillar Tractor Plant, Mueller Company, Tate & Lyle North America, Inc., and Archer Daniels Midland Company located in Decatur, IL.