History of the School

Page 1





The First Century


145 South Green Bay Road• Lake Forest, Illinois 60045

Dates to Remember

1888 - The Alcott School founded 1928 - The Lake Forest Day School founded 1934 - The Alcott School becomes the Bell School 1958 - The Bell School and the Lake Forest Day School consolidate to form the Lake Forest Country Day School

The Beginnings About 1500 people lived in Lake Forest in 1888, and the city was still very much a village, with unpaved, unlighted streets. Most families kept a cow, and water was pumped from wells in the back yard. Although the residents appreciated the benefits of the rural atmosphere for their children, they also wanted the best possible education for them. Lake Forest Academy, Ferry Hall, and Lake Forest University were already established concerns, and some citizens believed it was time for an independent elementary school in Lake Forest as an alternative to the public school. On April 13 of that year several prominent residents met at the home of the principal of Lake Forest Academy, the Reverend George R. Cutting, to make plans for the Alcott School. Accounts differ on whether the name was chosen in memory of ''the children's friend,'' Louisa May Alcott, ~ho had recently died, or of her father, Bronson Alcott, who was said to have founded the first private day school in America. The Alcott School opened in the fall of 1888 in a three-room cottage on land which is now part of the Lake Forest College campus. The rent was fifty-five dollars a year, the owner to pay the taxes. The founders must have believed that their project would be a success, because they signed a five-year lease. The school was owned by a board of trustees. Granger Farwell served as chairman, and the board included Frederick Aldrich, Albert M. Day, Frank Farwell, and Charles Frost. Other founders are said to have been the Calvin Durands, John Dwights, David Fales, C.K. Giles, Albert Cobbs, James G. K. McClures, Professor L.F. Griffin, and Moses L. Scudder. A century later, descendants of some of the same families are attending Lake Forest Country Day School.

Little information survives about the school in its earliest years, except that the principals were Miss Kreigh and Miss Metcalf, and that there were two students in the first graduating class. By 1903 it had moved to the site at 740 North Sheridan Road where it remained and prospered until 1959. The building, added to seven times, was torn down to make a parking lot for the First Presbyterian Church in 1969. In 1904 Allen Chartis Bell came to substitute at the Alcott School, beginning a new era which lasted fifty years and whose influence continues today. Mr. Bell was a native of Chicago and was valedictorian of both his elementary and high school classes. He had planned to attend Princeton, but a problem with his vision made him decide to stay closer to his oculist, so he enrolled 路 at Lake Forest College. His academic record there would be worthy of today's Allen C . Bell Scholarship Award: nineteen A's and seven B's. After graduating in 1903, Mr. Bell did some teaching at the College and undoubtedly was familiar with the Alcott School before he came to teach there. 2

Staff and Students in 1904 Staff: (1) Elizabeth Cobb, (2) Mlle. Vi/Ure, (3) Mlle. Arcadie Ville're, (4) Allen C. Bell, (5) Malcolm Cobb, (6) Miss Met,calf. Students: (7) Evelyn WClls Shaw (Mrs. John T McCut,cheon), (8)jane Vincent, (9) Eleanor Hubbard, (10) Ruth Dow, (11) Marian Farwell, (12) Sarah Farwell (Mrs. Lawrence Robbins), (13)Margaret Frost (Mrs. David Dangler), (14)Arthur F Tuttle, (15) john V Farwell, (16) Gordnn McCormick, (17) Grace E. Tuttle (Mrs. Kent Chandler), (18) Elizabeth Granger (Mrs. 路Granger Brown), (19) Elizabeth C. Farwell (Mrs. Paul Moyer), (20) Margaret Thompson, (21) Margaret Stroh, (22) Sylvia Shaw (Mrs. Clay Judson), (23) Isabelle Baker (Mrs. Edwin WClch), (24) Matthews Duk, (25) Harriet Stroh, (26) Ralph Farwell, (27) Shreve Ballard, (28) Marjorie Ewen, (29) Graham Aldis, (30) Helen Farwell (Mrs. Richard St,evenson), (31) Junior Dow, (32) Marvin Frost.


Tradition says that the school's trustees asked the twenty-threeyear-old Allen Bell to become principal in the fall of 1905, which he agreed to do if he could buy the school. He did so after leasing it for a year. The new principal was not prepared to rely on word of mouth to spread the news of the change of administration. The Lake Forest,er, after earlier announcing that it had printed a "handsome prospectus" for the Alcott School under "an entirely new management with a full corps of able instructors,'' ran the following in two consecutive 1905 issues= Alcott School The Alcott School opens Wednesday, the twentieth day of September at 8:50 a.m., offering complete courses in Kindergarten, primary and grammar school work for children between five and fourteen years of age. Children may be entered for any part of the term, especial effort being made to keep the work of such pupils in close touch with their respective schools. Consultation may be had at the school on the day preceding the opening. Catalogue sent upon request. The Alcott School Phone 334

Allen C. Bell Phone 423

Evidently some families lived only part of the year in Lake Forest, so their children attended the Alcott School for less than the full academic year. This practice continued for many years, some parents taking their children with them on lengthy travels, which made formal education a fragmented process. The close connection with the Winter Club had begun by 1907, when one of many productions of Hansel and Gret,el took place there. The club's trustees allowed the school to use their facilities, an arrangement which endured, since the school's property was not large enough for athletic fields. Eventually the Winter Club hired a coach to provide a more extensive physical education program 4

for its membership. This membership, while including a large proportion of Alcott School families, did not embrace all of them and included some who went to other schools. The Alcott School brochure of 1909 declared that ''the entire curriculum is arranged to make moral character efficient through mental discipline.'' Students were to be prepared for higher education and college. The school year ran from mid-September to mid:June, with two weeks' vacation at Christmas and one at Easter. In the best interests of the students' health, the school day ran from 8:30 to 12:45, 11:45 for primary students. After lunch at home the children who were eligible went to the Winter Club for at least part of the afternoon. Classes were small, averaging six pupils, and French was begun in the primary grades, although Latin was not taught until sixth grade. Physical conditioning was provided by the Swedish System of educational gymnastics, fashionable at the time, especially in schools which did not have large athletic facilities. Two afternoons a week, classes in manual training or bookbinding were offered. In a policy which continued throughout the history of the school, teachers specialized by subject, rather than teaching all subjects to a particular grade level. Mr. Bell taught mathematics and Latin in 1909, and there were six o~her teachers, all women. A new faculty member that year was Miss Coyla Flint, whom Mr. Bell had hired away from the public Gorton School to teach English and geography and who a year later became Mrs. Allen Bell, as well as assistant principal of the school. Although she soon retired from full-time teaching to raise three sons, Mrs. Bell remained very much involved with school life until her husband's retirement. The school day was short, but full . The fifth-grade schedule consisted of opening exercises, writing, physical exercises, arithmetic, French, history, reading, geography, English and spelling, along with two study periods and a fifteen-minute recess. The opening exercises were a school tradition, in later years held three days a week, with the same program of hymns, Bible readings, prayers, and poems recited from memory by selected students. Mr. Bell was a firm believer in the value of memoriz-


Miss Isabella Comp!im and Former Students in 1962 at Her Retirement.

ing poetry, and many graduates can still recite much of what they delivered in the morning assemblies. The brochure lists forty-seven families as patrons from 1906 through 1909, so it might be assumed that the enrollment was somewhere between forty and fifty. At what point the school began the first of its seven additions is not known, but it would be difficult to carry out the program described in the brochure with more than one grade in a classroom. By 1917 there was a space in which to give dramatic productions, because a threeact operetta with a cast of fifty-four, The Golden Gift, was presented that June. World War I meant that Mr. Bell was again the only male on the faculty, but otherwise the school was not as affected as it would be by World War II. Of more immediate concern was the Spanish . flu epidemic in the fall of 1918, which resulted in the closing of all public places for a time. Schools and churches were the first to be reopened, but students had an unscheduled vacation that year.


The following fall the school opened with its largest enrollment ever, seventy pupils. Another important event was the arrival of Miss Isabella Compton to teach fourth grade, which she continued to do until 1962, a record of service exceeded only by that of Mr. Bell. Her former students will always remember how her classroom became a Norse feast hall after Christmas each year, when the class studied the Vikings. Such study of other cultures culminated the week before graduation, when each class presented a play about the people studied during the year. Another June tradition was the square dance given for graduates and their families by the .Bells. Over the years the Alcott School and Mr. Bell had become so identified that more and more people began to refer to the ''Bell School.'' When the Bells' oldest son, Alexander, known as Lex, came to teach following his graduation from college in 1934, the name change became official, the only formality being the ordering of new stationery.

The Bell Sclwol, 740 North Sheridan Road.


A Different Kind of School By the time the Alcott School celebrated its thirtieth birthday, Lake Forest had become a very different place from the village of 1888. The population had more than quadrupled, streets were paved and lighted, a private company piped water to most residences, and electricity had come to town. Ground was broken for the first high school building. The Chicago and Northwestern Railway was supplemented by the Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee Railway, which ran electric trolley trains where the bicycle path is now. Only a few families still had horses and cows, and the city tried in vain to keep automobiles from going faster than ten miles an hour in the business district. The population included young married couples who were taking advantage of the improved transportation to commute to Chicago jobs from the suburbs. Some of these people were very much interested in progressive education, particularly as carried out at the Francis Parker and North Shore Country Day schools. They believed that Lake Forest was ready for a branch of North Shore Country Day, and asked North Shore's headmaster, Perry Dunlap Smith, and Flora Cooke of Francis Parker to serve as consultants. The first organizers of this new school were Richard Bentley, Caryl D. Casselberry, Albert D. Farwell, Hermon Dunlap Smith, and Margaret H. Tuttle. Other founders were the Edward K. Welles, the Keith Carpenter, the Knight Cowles, and the Howard Peabody families. The original plans had changed, however, by the time the Lake Forest Day School opened its doors in September, 1928, with forty-nine students, a number that increased to sixty-one by the end of the scfiool year. The school was actually a continuation and expansion of the nursery and kindergarten run by Corinne M. Fitzpatrick, with the addition of grades one through four. The intention was to add a grade each year until there were eight. The principal aims of the Lake Forest Day School were ''the development of character, the imparting of knowledge, and the development of resourcefulness,'' according to an early brochure. It was to be a school ''operated not for profit,'' which was just 8

The First La.ke Forest Day School, 495 .East Deerpath.

as well, as the records of the early decades relate a constant financial struggle to keep the doors open. There was to be emphasis on the "fundamental importance of parent co-operation,'' which began with subscriptions from some ~f the founding parents to fund operations. A house at 495 East Deerpath, just west of the present Christian Science Church, was rented for three years at $2 7 5 per month. Miss Fitzpatrick seems to have lived in the house, receiving a salary of $3500. Tuitions ranged from $225 to $340 for the year. In addition to the principal, there was a faculty of seven, plus a consulting physician. Later a consulting psychologist was retained. These two consultants exemplified the school's commitment to educating the whole child. There was even a daily throat exam for each student by the "physical director,'' who was clearly involved with the students in more than the usual athletic coach's capacity. Later these examinations were performed by the school nurse, who visited each homeroom every morning with her box of ''ah sticks.'' The students performed a great deal of group work, as well 9

as handwork for creative expression, but "tool" subjects such as arithmetic and spelling were mastered by drill, as no progressive substitute had been found. Great care was taken to avoid competitiveness, to which end children were not informed of their grades, nor were there competitive athletics. The school's first year was successful enough that the 1929-1930 brochure shows considerable expansion. The Preschool consisted of a nursery and a kindergarten class, the Primary Group included grades one through three, and the Intermediate Group encompassed grades four through seven. Optimistic plans were made for expanding the school through tenth or possibly even twelfth grade. The curriculum included social science (history, geography, civics and natural science), English, arithmetic, French (starting in kindergarten), music, shop, industrial art and fine arts, plus physical education. Music lessons were available at an extra charge. The preschool day ran from 8:45 to 11:30 or 12:00; the other children attended from 8:45 to 3:30, with supervision available until 4:30. Lunches, in the form of full dinners, were served in the middle of the day, as it was believed that a light supper was healthier for children. The favorite menu was creamed chicken with biscuits, milk, rice, cranberry sauce, raw vegetable salad, and chocolate pudding. This was to provide the student with enough stamina to comply with ''the belief of those connected with the school that a child's school day should be so organized that it will take care of most of his normal activities outside of the home." The faculty had grown to thirteen, not including Dr. Morley D. McNeal, the school physician, or the new principal, Mrs. Kathleen G. Ammerman. Despite the successful beginning of the school under her leadership, Miss Fitzpatrick could not agree on a new contract with the trustees. They candidly informed her, and presumably her successor, that when the Lake Forest Day School became more established, a male principal would be hired. This happened in 1933, but Mrs. Ammerman remained as head of the Lower School, working under the new headmaster, J. Allen Hickerson.


From its inception the Lake Forest Day School made efforts to welcome all parents and other members of the community to the school. Evening speakers on topics of educational and parental interest, open houses, and a weekly events column in The Lake Forest,er, written by the fourth grade, publicized the availability of this newer form of elementary education in Lake Forest. Increasing enrollments encouraged the trustees to plan for larger quarters, and in 1930 the school acquired 14.2 acres at Onwentsia and Green Bay roads from the Leander Hamilton McCormick Estate. The cost of the land and school building was to be met by the sale of noninterest-bearing debentures, redeemable in 1955. Parents and friends bought up the issue, and construction began.

Lake Forest Day Sclwol Football in the Early Forties First row: C. Ellis, H. Into, R. Hall, B. Kelky, J KeUogg, R. Robinson, T Morse, and M. Burry. Second row: J lVung, D. VI-files, F Hord, D. Carpenter, S. Otis, F Spalding, C. Haffner, C. Garland, and F Carpenter. Third row: J Scudder, T Rossetter, J Kelly, S. Hord, H. Dangkr, S. VI-files, T Ellis, W Williamson, J Henderson, and F Smith. Fourth row: Coach C. W Milkr, B. Rossetter, D. VI-files, B. Carpenter, A. Gardiner, N Into, T McGowen, L. Smith, B. lVung, and Coach W R. Cannon.


The Bell School First Grade Room, 1932.

As happens with many such projects, the actual expenses exceeded the budgeted amounts, and the trustees scrambled to find the money to complete and equip the building. Evidently no important corners were cut in economizing, for it has served its purpose well for fifty-seven years. Remarkably few changes have been made in the floor plan, particularly on the upper level. The present conference room, development office, and audio-visual room were originally the library-study hall, with a slightly raised "stage" at the south end. The present business office was the school's main office, leading to the principal' s office. Across the lobby was the faculty lounge, now the volunteer office. All the porches were roofed, to provide protected play areas for rainy days. On the lower level, the original kitchen and lunchroom have become tutors' offices, the office of the head of the Lower School ' and corridors. The wooden cupboards in the tunnel were built to store packaged food. When the new building was occupied in the fall of 1931, everything seemed to work properly, except that the heating was uneven. Parents pitched in to make curtains and donate other 12

needed articles. Outside plant materials were given by nurseries in the area. The furniture budget was exceeded in order to provide folding chairs for assemblies so the faculty and students wouldn't have to sit on the floor. All of the desks and classroom chairs were movable to permit different arrangements for different activities. It was a spacious setting for the education of the hundred students.

Difficult Times As the Great Depression increasingly made itself felt, even in Lake Forest, both the Alcott and Lake Forest Day schools adopted defensive measures. Mr. Bell reduced kindergarten and first grade tuitions substantially. The Lake Forest Day School could not afford to offer reductions, and in fact asked those parents who were in a position to do so to pay in advance. Faculty were asked to take a cut in salary and did, for other positions were not easy to find. Twice during the mid-thirties some land was conveyed back to the McCormick Estate, including the site where the headmaster's house was built almost fifty years later. Hot breakfasts for hungry pupils were funded by a benefit performance of The Emperor's New Cwthes given by the faculty .and parents. An involuntary act of charity took place in the fall of 1932, when some vandals broke into the kitchen, cooked a meal, and went off with more food and two sweaters. All was not gloomy, however. In May 1932 Carleton Washburne, the nationally respected superintendent of the Winnetka elementary schools, evaluated the Lake Forest Day School very favorably, suggesting only that there be better coordination between strictly academic work and group activities. He admitted that this was difficult and dependent on the ''artistry of the teachers.'' The same year saw the first book sale, whose profits were earmarked for the library, as they are today. Students achieved a form of international recognition when some student work, not specified, was exhibited at the Chicago World's Fair in 1933. As the thirties progressed, the early integration of subjects tended to break down, with the "tool" subjects, reading, writing, 13

arithmetic, and spelling, taught in the morning. After lunch, rest, and assembly, the fourth through eighth grades had creative writing, art, shop, or school jobs. The last hour of the day was devoted to sports. In 1936 the first football team played Glencoe, North Shore Country Day, Milwaukee, and the Winter Club, indicating a change in the original philosophy of non-com peti ti veness. The students' school jobs were quite responsible. Kindergarten and first grade fed and cared for the school's rabbits, white mice, and chickens. The second grade built a ''companion house'' to the animal barn, while the third grade managed a self-supporting poultry farm which sold eggs to the kitchen. Half the fourth grade was in charge of minor construction and repair work, and the other half put out the literary magazine, the Day Scfwol Crier. The fifth and sixth grades ran the library, including cataloguing the The Bell School in 1933.


books. The first issue of Sups appeared in 1936. This was the second year in which there were both a ninth grade and a tenth grade. Perhaps because of the publicity given activities such as these, there was an inaccurate perception of the Lake Forest Day School as a "play school." Under the leadership of Robert T. Hall, who became headmaster in 1936, the school became more conservative, joining the Private Schools Association of the Central States in 1937 and adopting Secondary Education Board standards in 1938. Whether this gradual departure from the earlier progressive ideas was caÂľsed by financial pressures, by lower enrollments, by concern over having graduates accepted at eastern boarding schools, or by some other factors is impossible to determine. It was at this time that the first mention of a merger between the Bell and Day schools was made, but the matter was


not pursued for another two decades. Instead, a probably inevitable rivalry grew, friendlier at some times than at others. Strong feelings of allegiance still color the attitudes of alumni of both schools. Two events took place in 1940 which illustrate the improved financial position of the Lake Forest Day School. The mortgage was paid off, and a new building was completed. This was a combined gymnasium and auditorium, with locker, art, shop and music rooms on the lower level. Although the latter were to be used for many different purposes throughout the years, the upstairs retained its original purpose until transformed into the Performing Arts Center forty years later. Perhaps in honor of the new building, a school song, ''Hail to the Crimson,'' was introduced and sung lustily to encourage the crimson and white teams. A school emblem, a form of compass rose, was less enthusiastically accepted. The coming of World War II affected life in Lake Forest more than World War I had. Almost a sixth of the population served in the armed forces, and often families left town to join a husband and father stationed away from home. Other families moved in when their fathers were assigned to Fort Sheridan or Great Lakes. These moves resulted in a greater fluctuation in the student populations. Faculty were also affected. Mr. Hall and other male teachers left the Lake Forest Day School to go to war, as did several trustees. Mrs. Lucille Bates Hinman, for several years a member of the faculty, agreed to serve as principal on an interim basis. A number of measures were adopted to help with wartime shortages of supplies and staff. A victory garden was tended by the students, its produce served at lunch. Students also helped with cleaning, cutting down on the need for janitorial help. Car pools were formed to save gasoline, and heating oil was used sparingly. Students all over the country bought savings stamps, books of which could be traded in for war bonds. Cans, paper, and rubber were recycled, tinfoil disappeared from chewing gum packages, and chocolate was tightly rationed. In 1944 a school shoe exchange helped alleviate a shortage of leather goods. 16

Laying the Cornerst.one of the Lake Forest Day SchJJol Gymnasium, 1940 Ali.cc Keith Carpenier and Scott J#lles, eighth graders, place the copper box containing the linen edition of a newspaper, pi.ctures of students, and other it,ems in the cornerst.one as James F Oates, President of the Board of Trust,ees, woks on.


Mr. Bell and StudÂŁnts in the Bell Sclwol Library, 1930's.

At the Bell School the gasoline shortage resulted in a major schedule change. Students now remained for lunch. A ''soup kitchen'' was set up on the auditorium stage, and those who also wanted a sandwich brought it from home. Classes and activities continued until 3:00, at which time students walked or bicycled to the Winter Club for sports. A few years later the school was presented with a freezer for ice cream, and later still a regular lunch program was set up, using the kitchen and dining facilities of the First Presbyterian Church next door. Bea Kiss was in charge of lunches, assisted by mothers who helped serve the food. This was one of the few opportunities for parents to participate 18

in the daily life of the school. A brief experiment with room mothers was unsuccessful, but Mr. Bell's office was always open to any parent who wished to talk. Expansion and Retirement Ironically, the war years were financially healthy ones for the Lake Forest Day School. Not only did it operate without a deficit for the first time, it was able to start a modest Educational Fund, partly for endowment. Enrollment went to new highs, nearing the two-hundred mark, approximately the same as the Bell School. In an effort to attract good teachers, a house on Oakwood Avenue was purchased to 路p rovide apartments in a tight housing market. Since torn down, this faculty house marked the beginning of a continuing program. Mrs. Hinman, who had served as principal beyond the end of the war, expressed a desire in 194 7 to step down and return to teaching. Her successor, Davis W. Shoemaker, died before taking over the position. G. McCall Maxwell, a faculty member who had returned to the school after military service, became headmaster in time to inaugurate the first staff retirement program. Two years later, the present kitchen and lunchroom were added, accommodating the larger nmnbers of diners more satisfactorily. During the 1950's Lake Forest experienced tremendous growth, increasing enrollments in all the schools as new ((baby boom" families moved into newly built houses. The public elementary schools were increased to the present number, and additions were made to St Mary's and the high school. John Suter became headmaster of Lake Forest Day School in 1954, and a year later the last of the bonds sold for the construction of the original building in 1930 were redeemed. Parents were still regularly asked to contribute for the purpose of covering operations deficits, a practice later formalized into the Annual Giving Program. Two of the school's greatest non-financial assets were acquired during this period when Charles E. Leake, math teacher and later head of the Upper School, and Frank E. Ward, boys' athletic director, joined the faculty. These two men had an incalculable in19

fluence on the generation of students whom they taught by example as well as by textbook. The Bell School celebrated a milestone in 1954 with the fiftieth anniversary of Allen Bell's association with the school. A reception at Miss Lilace Barnes' s house drew hundreds of guests of all ages who paid affectionate tribute to Mr. and Mrs. Bell. Those who could not attend wrote letters of appreciation expressing the high regard in which he was held by present and former students, parents, faculty, and fellow headmasters throughout the nation. The heads of the .secondary schools attended over the years by Bell School graduates stressed the thorough preparation the school provided as well as the high standards of conduct it demanded. Although he wished to continue teaching for a time, Mr. Bell no longer wanted the responsibility of owning and managing the school. A group of parents formed a nonprofit corporation which raised the money to purchase the school from the Bells. The trustees sounded out the Lake Forest Day School about the possibility of a merger, but the matter was not pursued. When Appleton A. Mason, Jr., became Bell School headmaster in 1955, with Alexander C. Bell as Assistant Headmaster, they had the mandate to continue the traditional strong educational program while broadening the range of activities and athletics. Additional space for this expansion was obtained through the purchase of the Cornelison property at 737 Sheridan Road, across from the school, which now could have its own lunchroom, more classrooms, and playground. It was realized, however, that even larger quarters would be necessary for a well-rounded program with a gymnasium and athletic fields. A building and endowment program was set up, resulting in the acquisition of the Marston property of nine acres on Westminster. Consolidation Before the move was made, the Lake Forest Day School in its turn suggested that the possibility of a merger be explored. In December 1957 a committee of representatives from both schools met to discuss the proposal and eventually to work out


Mrs. Allen C. Bell, Frank Bell (Mr. Bell's brother), Allen C. Bell, and Alexander C. Bell at the recepti.on in lwnor of Mr. Allen Bell's fiftuth year at the sclwol, June 18, 1954.

a plan of consolidation which was approved in May 1958. Representing the Bell School during the discussions were Robert A . Gardner, Jr., Kent Chandler, Jr., Beckwith R. Bronson, and Arthur M. Wood. The Lake Forest Day School committee consisted of Edgar]. Uihlein, Jr., Lloyd Bowers, John Coleman, Jr., and Mrs. Henry P. Wheeler. Among the problems to be resolved were the representation on the board of trustees of the combined school, the timing of the actual physical consolidation, who should be headmaster, and what the new school should be called. All of these questions were resolved. Mr. Suter resigned from the Lake Forest Day School, leaving Mr. Mason as the logical choice for headmaster. A proposal to call the institution the Green Bay School quietly disappeared, and it became known as the Lake Forest Country Day School. By the fall of 1959 all the students and faculty were under one roof on the Green Bay Road campus. That roof had expanded in the mid-fifties to include the "carpeted gym" and the classrooms between the primary wing, 21

Illfrwis State Bani.am Division Hockey Champions of 1965 Front row: Ra!,ph Brown, Robbie Gardner, Tripp 10ung, Co-captains Pete Taylm and Ed Swift, Pete Seaman, Byron Gejvert, Scotty Douglass, Waffle Tlwmpson. Back row: Coach M. B. Gilroy, Geoff Stevenson, Keith Reed, Tim Coleman, Alex Hodges, Paul Ahern, Will Dickinson, Frank Farwell, Steve Hutchins, Assistant Coach john Greene.


the lunchroom, and the main office. The four classrooms facing the headmaster's house were added in 1967. The primary wing was built in 1960. What were the arguments in favor of consolidating the two schools at this time? Put most simply, the Bell School had more students than it had room for, and the Lake Forest Day School had more space than students to fill it. In optimistically planning their expansion programs in the early 1950's, both schools had counted on continually rising enrollments as Lake Forest grew. What happened was that many of the new residents, unfamiliar with independent education, sent their children to the public schools, which stead1ly and rapidly improved. It became evident to both boards of trustees that one private school of about four hundred students would be much stronger and more viable than two smaller ones competing for pupils. Old loyalties and mutual wariness made the negotiators very careful to protect the interests of both schools. A joint board of trustees of thirty members was to preside until an eighteen-person board, the present number, could be elected. New construction necessary to accommodate the additional students was financed from the Bell School building fund, but the Lake Forest Day School was to be responsible for its owri operating deficit. Much patience and give and take were needed to combine two schools with such very different traditions into a single cohesive institution. Those involved knew that the consolidation had to succeed and were willing to work hard to that end. Also, the schools had come closer in their philosophies during the preceding thirty years. The Bell School was moving in the direction of a more student-centered curriculum, expanding programs in the arts and athletics as it became feasible to do so. The Lake Forest Day School, committed from the beginning to educating the whole child, had for some time been teaching in a more subjectcentered way. Its early avoidance of competition had abated, both on and off the athletic fields. In fact in 1965 the hockey team won the state championship.


Both schools had always been family and community schools, welcoming students of varying abilities and building up a tradition of educating generations of the same families. Parent participation had played a large role from the earliest days of the Lake Forest Day School, and parents had become increasingly involved at the Bell School after assuming ownership. It is a tradition which touches every aspect of Lake Forest Country Day School and has been one of its greatest strengths. The leadership provided by Appleton Mason in this sensitive period had much to do with forming the school in its present mold. Blending several hundred students and faculty nurtured in an atmosphere of rivalry and accustomed to two very different styles of administration was a tremendously difficult task. He accomplished it in a manner that left a legacy of admiration and affection. The merger proved sound financially, as had been hoped, and in the 1960's the school was able to buy back the land on Onwentsia Road, also adding the property to the south where the two faculty houses stand. This period also saw the acquisition of the Washington Circle and Highview Terrace faculty houses. A merger which did not take place was one with the Winter Club, a possibility explored several times during the decade. Although remedial help had long been available to students in both schools, it was in the middle sixties that the Learning Development Program was started in its present form, as a logical part of a school committed to helping all its students develop to the best of their ability. The beautiful library and science classroom addition was dedicated in 1967, which was also the year of the first New Parents' Dinner. The following year the school said goodbye to two long-term teachers, Jane Adair and Elsa Henschke. Miss Adair had served as science teacher, girls' athletic director, dean of girls, and interim principal at the Lake Forest Day School. Miss Henschke had taught first grade and reading and later headed the Lower School. In the same year, 1968, Samuel Parkman succeeded Mr. Mason as headmaster, after having taught and served as assistant headmaster for several years.


The ninth grade had become a permanent institution for girls, and gradually more boys also stayed for the extra year, changing the focus of closing exercises (rom eighth grade to ninth. St,eps, The Some Times, and other activities became primarily the responsibility of the ninth graders. The 1970's also saw the establishment of the Learning Center in what later became the development office, the start of the Math Lab, and the first beginnings of the computer program. The Robbie Bermingham Greenhouse, dedicated as a memorial to a student who died in 1976, was built in large part by members of the school family. After serving the school for sixteen years, Mr. Parkman resigned to be succeeded by Malcolm Coates in 1976. The Coateses were the first headmaster's family to live on campus, at first in the frame house on Onwentsia Road, then moving to the headmaster's house upon its completion in 1979. That house was one of the projects realized during the most ambitious capital fund drive in the school's history. Investment

Cheerkaders in 1960


Lake Forest Country Day School in 1967 Dates show when the buildings were erect,ed. Not pictured is the new gymnasium, built in 1979.

in Excellence was to raise $2.5 million for a new gymnasium (completed in 1979) and a Performing Arts Center (remodeling completed in 1981), for endowment to fund increased salaries and scholarships, and for energy conservation measures. The financial support was an indication of the regard in which the school was held, not only in Lake Forest, btit in an expanding area. Its reputation was spreading beyond the traditional Lake Forest-Lake Bluff community to include growing numbers of students from other suburbs. Under Malcolm Coates's leadership the faculty was further strengthened, and the importance


of continuity in the curriculum from junior kindergarten through ninth grade was re-established. The outdoor education program flourished, as did the arts, and May Week activities took Upper School students far and wide. After five years at the school the Coates family returned to the East Coast. The current headmaster, James L. Marks, III, has continued the policies which have made the school one of the most respected independent elementary schools in the nation. Among the innovations of his administration have been the expanded computer program, the extended-day Senior Kindergarten, the preschool program for three-year-olds, and the twenty-fifth and tenth-year reunions at homecoming. At the first of these in 1985 the Frank Ward Athletic Fields were dedicated in honor of the beloved retired director of boys' athletics. Both Mr. and Mrs. Ward were present, as was Miss Compton, an honorary member of Class of 1960. June 1986 marked the retirement of Charles E. Leake, who dedicated thirty years to Lake Forest Country Day School as math teacher, acting headmaster, and head of the Upper School. His devotion to his fellow faculty members is fittingly remembered by the Charles E . Leake Sabbatical Fund. What are the reasons for the success of Lake Forest Country Day School? The final report of the team of educators that evaluated the school in 1985 caught the spirit that exemplifies it: The school is blessed with generous human and material resources; we say "blessed" advisedly, because we know that to bring together and make available such resources requires commitment and hard work from many people over a sustained period of time. Nonetheless, the school we visited unquestionably has the staff, the plant, the materials to fulfill its mission and it does. The Lake Forest way is caring, supportive and "handson,' '. . . People are personally attended to in the School: students are taught in small classes and receive much oneon-one attention. New faculty learn the ropes from supportive peers. The administrative team demonstrates 27

warmth and concern and seems to have time for the smallest detail. Staff birthdays are celebrated and noted schoolwide. The maintenance and custodial staff takes care of the people in the building as well as fine care of the building. Kitchen staff and children work side by side in a purposeful harmony many home kitchens would envy. The parents are overwhelmingly supportive of the School in what they say, what they do, and what they give.* As the school' econd century begins, many thing have changed , but many more fundamental aspects remain much the sam e. Lake Forest Country Day School is still a community school, preparing student for their futures to the best of its and their abilities . These students become parents who in turn send their children to the school. The truggle to make income equal expenses continues, although the size of the numbers has increased more than tenfold . Parents, alumni, and friends are again being asked for funds to sustain and improve their school. Students still leave for vacations early and return late. Birthdays are still remembered, now by chocolate cake instead of a hug from Mr. Bell. Parents still pitch in to help do whatever needs to be done. With the same kind of commitment and dedication that has characterized its first century, the Lake Forest Country Day School's second hundred years should be a continued record of service and achievement to and of its children.

*Inde pe nde nt School A ociation o f the Ce ntral ta te, In t rodu cti o n a nd Summa ry to 1985 Evalu a ti on o f La ke Fo res t Coun try D ay chool.


The Class of 1988. Front row: Sameer Chhabria, Eric Skoien, Rob Zivell, Juned Siddique, Jamie Donald, Eric Lorenzo. Second row: Ben Haight, Whitney Walker, Dede Carroll, Erika Buck, Michelle Reese, L exie Markarian, Tim Brewer. Third row: Mr. Terry Haight, Margaret Hamilton, Abbie Davison, Heather Skoien, Marybeth Athan, Mary Mascari, Cathi Coleman, David Broske, Mr. Carl Haller. Back row: Chris Kalamaras, Sean Davison, Brian Battle, John Borland, Michael Boberski.



A short historical summary necessarily leaves out many anecdotes, names, and facts. Any reader who would like to share reminiscences is encouraged to send them to the Alumni Office. To those who have given their help already, especially Lex Bell, my deep gratitude for teaching me so much about the past of our four wonderful schools.

Lucia Boyden Prochnow, 1948