Gillespie Community Unit School District #7 has three attendance centers with approximately 1,250 students in grades Pre-Kindergarten through 12. Grades 9 through 12 attend Gillespie High School, which has about 350 students and is located on Illinois Route #16 on the western edge of Gillespie. Approximately 325 students in grades 6 through 8 attend Gillespie Middle School which is located next to the high school building. The high school is housed in a building that opened in the fall of 1993. The middle school building opened in the early 60's and has recently undergone some remodeling.
Approximately 570 students in grades Pre-K through 5 attend Benld Elementary School which is located in the city of Benld about five blocks east of Illinois Route #4. The Benld school is housed in a new building that opened in the fall of 2002. The district's administrative offices are located next to the high school and middle school complex in Gillespie. More complete data concerning our district is available by clicking on the Illinois School Report Cards link below.
CUSD #7 is a rural area located in Macoupin County, Illinois, half way between St. Louis, Missouri, and Springfield, Illinois. The district includes the small towns of Gillespie and Benld (pronounced "buh NELD") as well as the villages of East Gillespie, Mount Clare, Wilsonville, Sawyerville, Dorchester, Eagarville, and Hornsby. Gillespie was founded in the 1850's and named after Judge Gillespie, one of its early prominent citizens. Benld was founded in 1904 and named after its founder Ben L. Dorsey. The total population of the district is about 8,000.
For most of the 20th Century, coal mining and agriculture dominated the local economy. At one time there were four coal mines operating within the district and several others within a few miles. Gillespie still hosts "Black Diamond Days" every year in June to celebrate its association with the coal industry. The district also has a rich ethnic heritage due to the number of immigrants who came to the US to work in these mines. Gillespie, for example, has many families whose grandparents and great-grandparents came to the US from Scotland. Benld has many families whose ancestors came from Italy and Croatia and is one of only a few small, rural American towns that has a Russian Orthodox Church. The same is true for the other small towns located within the district. Now, however, all the mines within the district as well as nearly all the mines in the region have closed. Monterey Mine just north of Gillespie (but in the Carlinville school district) is one of the few mines still open in this entire region of the state, and many residents of our district work in that mine.