Cordelia Harvey Elementary School is located on the north side of Kenosha just a short distance from the shores of Lake Michigan. It was built in 1961 and its first sixth grade class graduated in 1962. The principal at that time was Ms. Bernadette Tacki. A picture of Ms. Tacki is displayed in the Educational Support Center where she has the honor of being one of Kenosha’s Outstanding Educators. Although enrollment has been as high as 710, the 353 students enrolled now include all areas of special education, K-4, 5th grade gifted and talented, and regular education.
Cordelia Harvey School was named after a woman known as the “Wisconsin Angel.” Cordelia Perrine, who married Louis Harvey, was a teacher in Southport (WI) during her young years. Louis Harvey became governor prior to the start of the Civil War. He was killed while giving aid to wounded and sick Union soldiers. Cordelia Harvey was determined to carry on his work.
Madison Hospital, later known as Harvey United States General Hospital, opened in 1863 after Cordelia took it upon herself to meet with President Abraham Lincoln. She convinced him that soldiers would recuperate better at a hospital in a cool climate. This hospital operated in Wisconsin until the close of the Civil War at which time it was converted into an orphanage for children of deceased Union soldiers. Mrs. Harvey was its superintendent. Staff members working in a school that has been named after the “Wisconsin Angel” feel a pride in continuing to nurture and guide children attending Cordelia Harvey School. Hopefully each child will graduate ready to achieve goals and apply strategies that will enable him or her to achieve in an ever changing world.
In the late 1950s, it was determined that Kenosha was in need of two more elementary schools, one to serve the north side area and one to serve the south. Harvey Elementary School first opened its doors in September of 1961 to serve Kenosha’s north side residents. The new Harvey School helped to relieve the overcrowded conditions at Grant Elementary School.
In April of 1962, Harvey Elementary School and the southside Vernon Elementary School were dedicated “in the hope that here boys and girls will come from every quarter to share in all the intellectual, artistic and cultural riches of the world.”
The school was named in honor of Cordelia Perrine Harvey, one of the first teachers in the village of Southport as Kenosha was once known. Her husband, Louis Harvey, became the Governor of Wisconsin in 1861. Together they did much to aid the sick and wounded soldiers during the Civil War. Mrs. Harvey had become so special to these men that she became known as “The Wisconsin Angel.”
On July 15, 1961, Miss Bernadette Tacki was appointed the first principal of Harvey School. She served in that position until her retirement in 1980. Mr. Robert Debelak assumed duties until August of 1987. Mr. Stephen Relich worked as principal at Harvey in July of 1987 and retired in 1998. In the fall of 1998, Philip Pares assumed the Harvey principalship and worked until Starlynn Daley was hired as the first female principal in over 25 years. Ms. Daley returned as principal of the school after having worked as a teacher at the school from 1997-2000. Ms. Daley served as principal until 2010.
In August of 2010, Ursula Hamitlon-Perry became principal of Harvey Elementary. She has served in that role for over 10 years.