On October 24, 1930, a ceremony was held to mark the laying of the corner stone for the new library building. The ceremony was scheduled to begin at 11:15 a.m. Elm Place grades four through eight and students representing other Highland Park schools were released from school to witness the laying of the corner stone.
:29 – Rev. Frank Fitt of the Highland Park Presbyterian Church will give the invocation.
:35 – From left to right: Joseph Garnett, chairman of the Library Board Building Committee, Former Mayor Frank Hawkins, and Everett Millard of the East Park Board await the program of events.
:41 - Rev. Fitt is on the left and Joseph Garnett on the right. Jesse Lowe Smith, Principal of Elm Place School and Superintendent of District 107 is in the foreground.
: 47 – Former Mayor, and Highland Park’s first mayor, Frank Hawkins is introduced.
:53 – The Honorable Benjamin F. Lewis, mayor of Highland Parks addresses the crowd.
:55 - Miss Anna May Price, Superintendent of the Library Extension Division, a division of the Illinois State Library, addresses the crowd.
1:00 – Joseph Garnett, with Boy Scout assistance, shows the time capsule from the old library building, which will be placed with a new time capsule in the corner stone of the new building.
1:54 – Mr. Harold Finch of the Deerfield-Shields High School music department and Mayor Lewis sing “America the Beautiful.”
2:24 – The Deerfield-Shields High School Band in procession at the corner stone ceremony.
On July 30, 2013, Nancy (Goodman) Feldman shared her memories of Elm Place School where she was a student from 1927 to 1935. At the time, Elm Place School consisted of a Primary Building, constructed in 1913 for grades kindergarten through third grade, and the “old” building, constructed in 1893 with an addition in 1905 for fourth through eighth grades. Mrs. Feldman talks about fellow students, teachers, and school activities. She refers to Elm Place School as a “John Dewey” school.
While teaching at the University of Chicago, Dewey developed a new philosophy of education that was adopted by a number of progressive educators in the early decades of the 20th century. Jesse Lowe Smith, the superintendent and principal of Elm Place School, was an advocate of Dewey’s methods. With the support of a well-educated and affluent community, Mr. Smith was able to develop a rich curriculum of child-centered activities that promoted the philosophy of “learning by doing” with direct life skills applications. For example, Mrs. Feldman remarks on learning math by operating a pretend store. She mentions that students performed dramatizations of books. There were frequent field trips, some to study nature, such as the nest viewing trip that Mrs. Feldman describes. An annual Christmas play was a highlight of the school year. The weekly assemblies were another feature of the school. Mrs. Feldman remembers one assembly when the speaker was Mr. Mukerji. In his diary for Friday, March 25, 1927, Mr. Smith noted, “Mr. Mukerji….left a deep impression in the minds of the children.” Mr. Mukerji, and many other Elm Place School experiences, left a lasting impression on Mrs. Feldman.
For further information about John Dewey go to: pbs.org/onlyateacher/john.html
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