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PUBLIC SCHOOLS TIMELINE

There is much more that can be added to this timeline; please contact us if you have any additions or corrections.  Also see individual schools, Park High's Bell, High School Principals and Smokin' in the Boys' Room.

Pratt School was opened in 1859.  It was located at Excelsior Blvd. and Wooddale, then called Pleasant Ave.

Manhattan Park School was built in 1885.

North Side School was built at 6800 Cedar Lake Road in 1885.
 

The first meeting to organize a St. Louis Park Independent School District was held on March 3, 1888.  The first School Board meeting was held on March 24.  The District was organized with two schools, Pratt and North. In 1888 there were 51 students in the system.

Lincoln School was built in 1889 at 5925 W. 37th Street.

Oak Hill I: The first Oak Hill School building was the old Pratt Schoolhouse, which was moved to Pennsylvania and Walker in 1892. It was also known as South School in this location.

On file at the High School is an original "Annual Catalogue of the St. Louis Park Public Schools for 1893-4."  It lists Lincoln (high school and common school), Oak Hill, North (Side), and something called Chart Division.  Mayor Joseph Hamilton wrote, in part,

I have for several years past urged that a high school course be established and maintained in our schools, but for some reason it has been delayed.  The present year has developed a start in that direction, and I have witnessed some of the demonstrations of the class that have filled my heart with a pride I cannot express here.  I have an unbounded hope for the future of our schools and see no reason why we cannot say with certainty to those who wish to locate here that the facilities offered here for the education of children, young men and women, are just as good as those offered in more pretentious schools.

Also included in the catalogue was a description of the Village, which bears repeating:

St. Louis Park lies on the western border of Minneapolis and is connected with the metropolis of the Great Northwest by beautiful avenues, streets, electric cars and steam cars.  The Great Northern, the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul and the Minneapolis and St. Louis railroads pass through the Park, giving us rapid connections with the "Twin Cities" and extending their arms to the warerooms of our great factories.  Not far from the center of our, almost 4,000 acres, Park, is situated seven very large factories, which give employment to a great many hundred men.  These factories have come to stay and it is safe to say that before many months others will be added.  It is a very noticeable fact that with hardly an exception, the children who come to school from the families of those employed in the factories in our village are well bred and bright children.  This warrants us in saying that we have what may be called a "higher class of working men" making their homes here.  Those who are engaged in the mercantile business and other enterprises of our village are men of "snap" and take a lively interest in making it the most desirable place to live in in Minnesota.  There are three churches, with well organized Sunday schools, guarding the religious and moral interests of the community.  No saloon or den of vice is harbored within our borders. ...  The course of study in the common school and high school are almost identical with that of Minneapolis.  Parents seeking a beautiful place for a home, and an excellent place for educating their children, free from those environments that allure them into temptation and sin, would do well to consider St. Louis Park, Minn.

Vaccinations were required for all school children starting in 1894.

 

In 1896 the School Board began to study ways of transporting children to school.  A man was hired to take children to school during the coldest winter months, perhaps using horses and a sleigh. 

Due to lack of space, in 1897 it was decided that students must be six years old before starting school.


A four year course of high school study was adopted in 1899.

In 1900 the first seniors (six girls and a boy) graduated from Lincoln High.
 



In 1902 there were two graduates from Lincoln, one being Alice Elizabeth Rixon.  Graduation ceremonies were held at the Odd Fellows Hall in the Hamilton Building on Walker Street

A history of the schools written by Inez Owen in 1969 gives us the following information:

In addition to these schools, rooms were leased in the Congregational Church.  An effort was made to rent rooms in the Presbyterian Church on Oak Hill for use by Oak Hill primary children, but the church refused to rent for less than $10.00 a month, which was considered too much money.

In 1902 St. Louis Park residents voted approval of a $12,000 bond to finance an addition to Lincoln School for a high school.  The increased space made it possible to add courses in sewing and manual training. 
 



A commencement program for the eighth grade, Lincoln School, was held on June 3, 1903. There were 19 graduates.
 



Hilda Chelberg was the lone graduate in 1904. 
 


1905
Harriet "Ruth" Waddell and Ethel Baston were among the seven students who graduated in 1905.  Baston descendant Scott Stumpf has donated Ruth's class ring to the St. Louis Park Historical Society.  Scott provides these details:  "Ruth and Ethel's teacher in the final year was Mae C. Fluke.  Their class motto was 'Labor and Honor.' Diplomas were distributed after a brief service featuring an address by the Rev. G.F. Swinnerton and songs sung by 44-year-old Eleanor Fletcher, wife of Warren Fletcher.  The Fletchers were close friends of the Bastons, Rixons and Waddells.  Eleanor sang 'The Roses of June' and 'Love the Pedlar.'  [Cousin] Alice, Ethel, and Ruth all soon became teachers -- not too surprising since all three were grandchildren of Albert Harrison Baston, originally from Maine, a state that bred teachers."

There was a picture in the Sun with the caption identifying it as the first SLPHS graduating class of 1905, identifying Dorothy Undine Nelson as the future Parks Director.  First, it was a confirmation picture, not high school, and it was a different Dorothy Nelson.  Don't be fooled!

Fern Hill School I was built in 1905 at 4725 Minnetonka Blvd. (at Ottawa).

Manhattan Park School was discontinued in 1905.
 


1906

Lincoln High commencement was held on June 4, 1906, at the Odd Fellows' Hall.  The seniors in the English course were Mabelle Filber and Hugo Cheller, and those in the Latin course were Leonie Bartow, Mamie McCullow and Dorothy Nelson. 

 

Eighth grade exercises were also held in the Odd Fellows' Hall.  Members of this class, who would enter the high school next fall, were Ruth Boyce, Ray Carlton, Raymond Curry, Henry Clausen, Anna Hembre, Dena Johnson, Milton Sufkin, Lillian Olson, Myrtle Smith, Sigrid Thor, Lucy Werner, and David Yorgey.

 

Closing exercises of the first four grades of the public school were held at the Congregational church.  The fifth and sixth grades presented the operetta "Dimple Cheek and the Brownies."

 


1912
A May Fete, "The Land of Sometime" was given by 300 grade school students of St. Louis Park schools on May 31, 1912.  "Groups of children appropriately costumed will represent different nations in costume, song, and folk dance." 

1912 Commencement exercises were held on June 3 at the Odd Fellows Hall.  High school teachers were Miss Foster, Miss Crouse, Miss Todd, and Miss Hill.  There were eight graduates, four boys and four girls, from "Lincoln High." 
 


1913
The Class of 1913 had 13 graduates and was the last class to graduate from Lincoln School.  Commencement was at the Odd Fellows Hall.  Graduates were Norman Moldestad, Martha Rickson Andreson, Roy Sewall, Max Dworsky, Agnes Olson, Minnie Kjelde, Raymond Arthur, Irving Johnson, Albert Lundberg, Clarence Samuelson, Laura Kolish, Fred Clausen, and Elsworth Boyce.
 


1914
The first, western portion of what would become Central Jr. High was built in 1914 at 6300 Walker Street. 
 

The Class of 1914 had 14 members.



In 1915 the 7th graders were moved to the Brick Block for lack of space.


1916

The Junior High-Senior High model was introduced in the fall of 1916 at the suggestion of the State Department of Education and enthusiastically supported by Superintendent Hatch. 7th and 8th grades were moved from elementary school to Junior High with 9th graders.  The very first issue of the Echo, dated October 6, 1916, spelled out the many benefits of the plan, ending with this argument:  "The plan inspires students to work harder and with a more definite purpose.  It relives the school room monotony and offers a chance for relaxation.  It wakes the school up and puts more interest and enthusiasm into school life, doing away almost entirely with the 'wish-I-were-out-of-school,' spirit."

The High School newspaper, The Echo, was launched on October 6, 1916.  One of the articles was about how enthusiastic boy golfers had made holes in two of the school windows and were now taking up foot-ball.
 


1917
The third annual Poultry Show was held on March 12 and 13, 1917.  On display were 200 chickens, pigeons, rabbits, Guinea pigs, and cats.  Entertainment was provided by the High School orchestra, rope jumping by Mrs. Murrell, and "Vaudeville stunts by a colored trio."
 


1918
In 1918 Oak Hill I was replaced by a brick building (Oak Hill II) at Walker and Quebec, very near the Creosote plant. More classrooms in an adjacent new building were added in 1924.

In the spring of 1918 the St. Louis Park High School Mothers' Club was formed, inspired by pamphlets and materials received from the National Congress of Parents and Teachers.  Mrs. Robert H. Downing was elected President.  The women focused on sewing and knitting for the Red Cross during the waning days of World War I.   
 



The graduating class of 1919 had 19 members.  16 were in the school play.
 


 

The Class of 1920 had 17 graduates:  10 girls and 7 boys.



Brookside Elementary School opened in 1921 at 4100 Vernon Ave. Additions were built in 1926 and 1949.

Individual photos of the Class of 1922 are framed and on the wall of the Depot.
 



One memoir indicates that the Lindquist's barn (3770 Brunswick) housed the one school bus that the village owned in the 1920s.

 

Individual photos of the Class of 1923 are in a box at Lenox.

In 1924 students began banking at Farmers and Mechanics Bank through their schools.

Eliot Elementary School was built in 1926 at 6800 So. Cedar Lake Road when the North Side School burned down.

Harold "Tuffy" Hofstrand was the first president of the 12-person student council in 1926.  In an interview for the Echo 50 years later, he recalled that there was a committee for trying student offenders.  The first case involved the tearing of a page from a library encyclopedia.

 

Individual photos of the Class of 1927 are in the Schools binder at Lenox.

The first High School yearbook, The Echowan, was published in 1929.

 

The high school Glee Club was started in 1930 by Alvira Osterberg.

 

Individual photos of the Class of 1930 are framed and on the wall of the Depot.

In 1931 the "School Police" was established, i.e., the student safety patrol program.

 

The High School Mothers' Club was responsible for dental clinics held at the school during the 1920s and '30s.  They also collected and mended clothing for the needy and took up collections for other needs such as pairs of glasses for needy students.  The first male officer appears in 1930 (C.L. Hurd). 
 


The Class of 1934 had 64 seniors.  There were no school buses.  J.W. McNeal was Principal.  Many years later Homecoming Queen Reta Dean remembered that her crown was a football helmet and her cape was the captain's jersey.

 

The 1934-35 directory brought greetings from the Superintendent of Schools, N.H. McKay, who described the system of tracking that has since been eliminated from American schools:

The high school courses consist of three, as follows: Academic, Commercial and General. The Academic source provides the required subjects for University or college entrance. The Commercial subjects offered are Business Organization, Bookkeeping, both beginning and advanced Shorthand and Typing and Commercial Geography. The General Course which leads to High School Graduation only permits the selection of subjects from any of the subject fields offered.

Ward Johnson reports that "In 1933 (I think) my Dad, Irvin Johnson, was the coach of the basketball team and baseball team. Getting ready for the basketball season, they had no uniforms. My dad located some black-and-orange WOOL used basketball uniforms at a good price. They were purchased, and my Dad then, because of the black/orange color scheme, decided to name the team the St Louis Park Orioles. So that is how the name Orioles came to SLP."

 

We previously have information that a Bill Johnson named the school teams the Orioles, also in 1933.  Johnson was a 1936 graduate.
 

The High School PTA listed their accomplishments for 1934-35, which included sponsoring a fund for building up an athletic field, purchasing a fence for the tennis court, sponsoring classes for adult education, and initiating a movement for providing recreational activities. 


In March 1936, 150-200 high schoolers staged a two-day student strike to protest the school board's acceptance of the resignation of Principal J.W. McNeal.

Lincoln School was sold to the Village in 1938.

In September 1937 Don Nemec became Principal of the Jr. High School, replacing Mr. Evans who left to become Principal at the high school in Boone, Iowa.

Mr. Martinson became Principal of the High School.

In 1938 (Central) High School was built next to the 1914 structure.  Dedication ceremonies were held on October 26, 1938.  A tunnel was dug under Highway 7 but was abandoned. 
 

Gordon Griebenow took over the direction of the high school Glee Club in 1939.
 


1940s

In April 1940 the St. Louis Park Recreational Planning Committee sponsored an "All School Revue," under the direction of Lola K. Gilmore, author and director.  Every school in the Park presented musical numbers, separately and with other schools.
 

A survey in the Echo asked "Do you like Heinies?"  (Butch haircuts)


In 1940 Park got special permission to hold their Prom at the Bloomington Auto Club the night before its Grand Opening.  Park's Prom would be held there for several years. 

Class of 1940 member Clayton Swenson won a five year scholarship to Harvard.  Swenson became a nuclear physicist and in 2011 received Park's Distinguished Alumni Award.  An article in the Echo reported that he got straight As - except for typing!

Three tennis courts, a girls' soccer field, and a basketball court were built at the High School during the summer of 1940.

Enrollments for 1940-41 were:

  • Grade 7:  110

  • Grade 8:  129

  • Grade 9:  139

  • Grade 10:  156

  • Grade 11:  141

  • Grade 12:  115

Latin was added in the fall of 1940. 
 

The Home Ec space was made into a three-room apartment, with the bedroom decorated in a Swedish peasant motif.


The Class of 1941 was 113 strong.  They celebrated their 70th reunion in June 2011.  WCCO covered the event.

Major additions to the Central building were made in 1941.
 

New courses for the 1943-44 school year were Spanish III, welding (arc and acetylene), and auto mechanics, the last two to prepare boys to serve in the military.

 

The new Industrial Arts building open house took place on October 7, 1943.  New equipment included a metal lathe, shaper, power hack saw, metal cutting band saw.  The Auto shop had five motors for students to take apart and put together.  

 

The fall of 1943 saw 869 students in the junior and senior high, with 10 new teachers. 

 

A "Utilitarian Class" was developed for students to act as hall monitors, reports the Echo in December 1943.


 

Sophomore dancing class was instituted in 1944 "when it was felt by both parents and pupils that the first year of senior high is the best time to learn dancing, especially since the prom follows during the next year," according to a 1951 Echo.  Dance instructor Mr. LeVay taught the gang the Lindy Hop.

Six rooms at the antiquated Lincoln School were used as classrooms for High School students from 1944-1947.
 

The first Tropical dance was held in 1944.  The Orchid Queen was chosen out of a hat out of the top 10-12 girls chosen by ballot.  In later years Darlene Anderson was to win Orchid Queen a record four times!

 

The Class of 1944 had 114 members.


 

The Fall of 1944 saw 890 students in grades 7-12, about evenly distributed.  There were 13 new teachers.

 

On September 28, 1944, 600 students from Park and Hopkins attended a Football Jamboree at Donaldson's Tea Room.  WTCN radio broadcast 1/2 hour of the proceedings, which included school songs and cheers.  DJ Larry Clinton provided music for dancing after the show. 

 

In the fall of 1944 the high school Glee Club became known as the Oriolians, directed by Wayne Balch.

 

In March 1945 a rec room was provided at the high school for dancing after lunch.  A nickelodeon was rented with a weekly change of records.  A Coke vs. Pepsi taste test was inconclusive.

 

On April 20, 1945, the junior band held a streetcar party.  28 band members and director Wayne Balch took the Selby-Lake streetcar to St. Paul where they saw the armory and the Capitol. 

 

In May 1945 Yvonne Morrow of the Teenette Club won a contest sponsored by Donaldson's, with the first prize awarded by bandleader Woody Herman.  She would fly to New York City with a Donaldson's buyer and stay with Rosemary Habel, a Park grad now teaching at the John Powers Modeling School.  Yvonne won the contest by earning 3,784 points doing community service.

 


Secret sororities have been around since the '40. Senior girls put sophomores though something called "Stink Week" (or "Hell Week"), where the sophs roll pennies down the hall with their noses, wear onions, and neglect to wash their hair. Al Hartman tells us that Lois Fredricksen, Class of 1944, started the Hermits. The pin that they would wear was that of a cabin with an axe hanging off on a chain. Her daughter thinks her mom wanted to be elite in some way. Lois's boyfriend was in Eagle Scouts and getting awards and Lois wanted some kind of recognition too.  The other sororities were the Esquirettes and Sturge.  Although sororities were supposed to be secret, apparently there was a Miss Steele who was the informal advisor to the sororities in the '50s. The annual S.H.E. girl-ask-guy dance is sponsored by Sturge, Hermits, Esquirettes and was started in the '50s.  In 1979 the Echo pointed out that secret societies in High School are illegal by state statute, but a letter to the editor defending them was published. 

 

There was also a fraternity called the Arribas, which started in the '50s.  The Arribas were from the Rooter Club (all males) which basically had one cheer "arriba, arriba, ole, ole, one-two RAH!"  It was the guys' answer to the girl's Pep Club.  One cheer meant they never had to practice, so they only got together for games, and of course, parties.  Another frat of sorts was the 15 Club, which hung out at Mr. Q's. 

 

The Letterman's Club was formed in December 1944.



Most Holy Trinity Catholic School, located at 3949 Wooddale Ave., opened in September 1945.

 

The first Anniversary Ball was held in 1945, but it's not clear what it's the Anniversary of.

 

A bond election on November 20, 1945, yielded funds to expand the schools.  At the time there were 145 students in basement classrooms, 173 at the outmoded Lincoln School, 232 elementary students located at the junior high school, and none of the elementary schools had a gym or library.

Former Superintendent N.H. McKay, who left to join the Red Cross, was declared dead after his transport plane disappeared on a mission to New Guinea.  Mrs. McKay was a math teacher at the school and wrote the Park High Fight Song, based on the one from North High.
 

Pearl Sauers, cafeteria supervisor, began her long career in 1947.

 

On March 12, 1948, Cedric Adams of WCCO radio emceed a talent show that showcased the best of the Jr. and Sr. High School students.

 

Roger DeClerq came to Park in 1948, and in his career he directed 135 school plays in addition to those of the Park's Community Theater.

 

In the fall of 1948 the walls of Park High were painted in pastels. 

 

On August 30, 1948, a caravan of teachers, including 9 new high school teachers, were given a police escort to a filet mignon luncheon at Culbertson's given by the Rotary Club. 

 

In March 1949 there was a Hi Y campaign against swearing in conjunction with a study of religion.


The Class of 1949 had 209 graduates, then the highest in history.
 

There were 1,165 students in grades 7-12 in the 1949-50 school year.  Bertil Johnson became the new Assistant Principal and there were five new faculty members.

 

In the fall of 1949 Shop class was divided into General (required for 7th grade boys), wood, and machine.

 

The Class of 1949 had 190 students.  At the same time there were 723 two-year-olds.  Yikes!  Build some more schools, quick!  A $1.65 million bond issue was passed with the original plan to replace Oak Hill School.  The current classroom total was 88, and it was estimated that 125 would be needed by the 1952-53 school year.


Park High junior Irwin Oborn left school on September 30, 1949, to join the Army.  He was killed on September 1, 1950.  Read his memorial in the Echo on the Korean War page.
 

Custodians Bob Sewall, Howard Williams, Willard Johnson, and Arnie Lewison sang at the 1949 Homecoming coronation.  The men were raising two kittens in their office.

 

Drivers training was provided by AAA.

 

In the fall of 1949 the concert band was divided into two pep bands that alternated at football games.  The Glee Club had 78 members.

 

The Echo reported in February 1950 that there was a canasta craze - a card game that came from Argentina.

 

Class of 1950 seniors with a B average or better did not have to take final exams.  There were 177 graduates in the class.

 


1950s


Fern Hill School I was closed in 1950, but reopened under the name Park Hill.

On March 8, 1950, a blizzard closed schools - a move that was seldom made in those days.

In 1950 there were 4,502 children in the school system.

Fern Hill School II was built at 2800 Joppa Ave. in 1950.

Six baton-twirling majorettes were chosen out of a field of 25 contenders in the fall of 1950.  Each had three different uniforms.

The girls' swim team was formed in the fall of 1950.  The team practiced on Friday nights at the YWCA pool in Minneapolis.  Their first meets were with Minneapolis Ascension and the Minneapolis Athletic Club.

Overcrowding led to chaos in the hallways and in the lunch line in the fall of 1950, so the time between classes was extended from 4 to 5 minutes and lunch was extended from 30 to 36 minutes.


In November 1950 the Echo spelled out a crisis with regards to the school system's capacity to handle the "mushrooming" population in the Park.  The annual school census showed that there were 9,119 people under 21 in the Village, 1,689 more than last year, a statistic Superintendent Harold Enestvedt called "startling." 

Normally there should be about the same number of two year olds in 1949 as three year olds in 1950.  However, the census shows there are 898 three year olds, an increase of 175 youngsters who have moved into St. Louis Park during the last 12 months. 

 

More children are in the 0-5 category than in the group age 6-20.  For this reason, more children will be entering school during the next five years than are in all 12 grades combined now.

Band teacher Earl Bohm initiated a class in band conducting in November 1950, "in order that as many students as possible may learn various conducting techniques."  Mr. Bohm said "Eventually we hope to select a student conductor for the senior band for pep fests and games.  Twelve boys and two girls enrolled in the class.


Dayton's Fashion Board started in December 1950, and Park's first representatives were Lou Ann Albinson, Carol Joan Johnson, Joan Hancock, and Jo Anne Boquist.

The class of 1951 had 34 students named Johnson.
 

Holy Family Academy opened in the fall of 1951 at 5925 W. Lake St.

 

Dramatic Arts was added to the high school curriculum in the 1951-52 school year.  The Echo reported on September 25, 1951:  "Formerly the speech coach [Roger DeClercq] had not only to rehearse actors in their parts for the school plays but to teach many phases of drama in the short time to be found after school hours.  Now, however, Park is to have three plays a year and there will be no restrictions concerning classes.  As a result the school will see better plays, and those who are really interested in acting will have a chance to develop their talents."

In 1952 the writing was on the wall:  that year there were 171 seniors, and 1,018 kids in Kindergarten.
 

In 1952, John Louis and Dorothy Stewart ran John O. Louis and Associates Public Relations Consultants at 5047 Excelsior Blvd. (no such number?) They had a contract for $6,000 with the Park School Board, which became controversial as opinion spread that it was a waste of money. The company generated leaflets for school kids to take to their parents, and had something to do with a Citizens Advisory Committee on Public Education, but by August they were fired.

Graphic arts was added to the junior high school curriculum in 1952-53, as was drivers' training. Behind-the-wheel training was offered for the first time in the summer of 1953.  New clubs were the Chess Club, which had 40 members, (John Loegering, advisor) and a Printing Club (Ray Zakariason, advisor).

The first issue of the Echo in the fall of 1952 quoted High School assistant principal Bertil Johnson:  "Enrollment figures for 1952-53 are expected to total around 1,660 pupils.  This is an increase of about 200 students over last year's figure when school opened."  The breakdown was:

Grade 7:  360 students, the largest 7th grade class to enter Park

Grade 8:  309

Grade 9:  291

Grade 10:  285

Grade 11:  295

Grade 12:  194

20 more classrooms were added to Eliot School in 1952.

Park Knoll School was built in 1952 at Texas Avenue and 36th Street.


A March 18, 1953 article in the Echo stated that St. Louis Park had the largest school cafeteria system in the State, serving 3,000 students every day.  Pearl Sauers supervised the system, which had 42 cooks.  At the High School, 11 cooks served 900 to 1,000 students every day, dishing out chow mein, weiners, hamburgers, Sloppy Joes, chili, and lots of sandwiches and potatoes.  Dorothy Hegdal was the "supervisor of the Park High dining room," which may translate into "lunch lady." 
 


Boys' Home Ec was added to the curriculum in 1953-54 but was dropped after three years. Other electives added that year were French, typing, advanced music, and senior mathematics.

In the 1953-54 school year, enrollment at the Junior-Senior High School was at an all-time high at 1900.  13 new teachers were added as a result.

Grade 7:  393

Grade 8:  377

Grade 9:  313

Grade 10:  283

Grade 11:  285

Grade 12:  205

The 1953 school census showed a total of 13,494 children in the Park; of those, 6,698 were pre-school age.  There were roughly 1,100 more children in the Park then a year ago.

The first mention of a new High School is in the September 8, 1953 Echo, which reports that preliminary plans are being drawn up.  The 17-acre tract at 33rd Street and Dakota had been owned by the school district for some time.  The hope was that it would be ready for the 1955-56 school year.  On November 23, 1953, the Village overwhelmingly voted its acceptance of a $4.2 million school bond issue to build the new Senior High and what would become Ethel Baston elementary school.  The new High School would "be adequate" for 2,000 students. 

In 1954, school enrollment was 7,383.  Conditions were so crowded that in the 1954-55 and 1955-56 school years, students attended school in double shifts. 1331 junior high students attending class in the morning and the 881 high school students attending class in the afternoon. During those years there were almost 2,500 students in the building.

"Looie, St. Louis Park's Spirit, Need Not Die" ran the editorial in the January 27, 1954 Echo in the face of a humiliating defeat on the basketball field to Hopkins the previous Friday.  Looie was created in February 1953 and stood for "scholastic achievement, extra-curricular activities, team support and all-round school spirit."  Looie played a part in Parkticipation Week, where the class with the fewest yellow slips won the yellow jug and the status of Looie.  Apparently yellow slips were bad.

The Park High Echo reported in March 1954 that the school (which may have included Grades 7-12) had 18 sets of twins.  Seniors Jim and Jerry Bohn are mirror twins (approximately 1 in 75 sets of twins fall into this category) and were "indeed a novelty."  Of the others, four pairs were identical and 13 fraternal. 

English teacher June Shifflett won a whisky-naming contest, earning her $5,000 and a trip around the world, which she took with her mother.  An article in a November 1955 Echo reports that she left Minnesota for California in 1954 to write radio, TV, and movie scripts.

The April 7, 1954 issue of the Echo reported that "for the next two school years Parkites attending junior or senior high school will be involved in half-day emergency sessions."  Principal Edward Foltmer said "This year's enrollment of 1,875 students is about 300 more than the building can properly accommodate.  The anticipated increase of 350 students next year and of 275 in 1955 will make it impossible to operate the school under the present six-period system."  Junior high students would have six 45-minute classes in the morning and senior high students would have five classes, ending at 5 pm.  There were only three minutes allocated between classes. 

21 new teachers were hired in the fall of 1954.  One replaced Lucille Adkisson, who, after 33 years of teaching, married Bernard Henderson, a former baseball player with the Cleveland Indians.  The couple moved to Douglasville, Texas.

Somehow speech teacher Roger DeClercq got roped into teaching dancing in 1954.  "The girls were quite cooperative, but teaching the mambo to boys is like teaching it to a herd of billy goats" he was quoted as saying in the Echo. 

In 1954-55, girls in home ec planned their dream homes, complete with furniture, carpeting, China, silver, and color schemes.  Some forgot to include bathrooms and closets.  Boys also participated in home ec, learning to sew an apron and a shirt.  Cecil Voss was afraid the material might wear out before he finished.

Construction of the new High School started in February 1955.

The PTA donated reading accelerator machines, in which a plastic curtain moved down the page making the student read faster.

Students in 1955 conducted a "Pencil Parade," with a goal of collecting 5,000 pencils to send to students in Korea, where it was reported that there were only 10 pencils per 600 people.

The Ham Radio Club was formed in March 1955, organized by Jeffrey Pearce.  Algebra teacher Roger Krause was the advisor.

Drivers training was conducted by teachers Roger Krause, Leo Rorman, and John Little.  New Fords were donated by Seirup and Sons, located across Highway 7 from the High School.  In the past two years, 350 students had been trained.  Each year a Road-E-O was held for student drivers, including a written test and obstacle course at the Miracle Mile parking lot.  Winners advanced to State and National competitions.

The Latin Club, advised by teacher Robert Zitur, had 31 students.

The Class of 1955 graduated 155 students.

Benilde High School for Catholic Boys, located at 2501 Highway 100 So., was built by the Christian Brothers in 1955.

Ethel Baston Elementary School was built in 1955.

The Fall of 1955 saw the addition of 21 new teachers.  Married women were not hired as new teachers, no doubt because of the pregnancy epidemic. There were 8,299 students in the school system.

Besides Looie, in 1955 Park High had another mascot, a goat named Parky, who belonged to 8th grader Kay Adams.

Accelerated math was offered for the first time in 1955-56.  The course was started by teacher Clarence Olander.  Students were included in the classes based on their scores in three general tests, mathematical achievements, IQ ratings, and the recommendation of their freshman math teacher.  Speakers were sought from IBM, Honeywell, and 3M.  In 1956-57, 33 students took part in the program. 

Boys were still pursuing home ec in 1955-56.  Besides sewing, they learned to cook swiss steak, beef stew, and scalloped corn.
 


1956-57


St. Louis Park Senior High School opened in the fall of 1956 at 6425 W. 33rd Street. Things got off to a rough start, as the Minneapolis Star reported on a crisis at the new high school: “It all started…when an early-morning disk jockey plugging ‘Oscar Socks’ urged students to don knee-highs of one design left leg, contrasting design right leg. Girls responded in droves…But Principal Edward Foltmer…suppressed the fad promptly. ‘We’d be opposed to any distracting influence at school,’ he explained with a cautious smile. ‘We can’t allow bizarre clothing.’ A bag lunch protest last Friday, with many girls wearing black and spurning the school’s hot lunch, followed. Boys at St. Louis Park High came to the girls’ rescue. ‘The boys wore their shirt tails out in protest after we weren’t allowed to wear Oscar Socks,’ student Elaine Smedberg said. ‘But the administration made ‘em pull the shirt tails in. So the boys hiked up their pants, wore them around their ribs. Then a week ago, about 15 boys peroxided their hair.’ Next morning, ‘the kids hissed the principal and started singing “Chain Gang” in school,’ other girls reported.” The School’s student council came to the rescue and calmed the situation down. The PTA put a teenage dress code on its next agenda. [In other wardrobe-related news, students were no longer allowed to wear blue jeans to the new high school for fear the rivets would scratch the new desks, etc.]


Overcrowding at the grade schools led to 366 elementary school students occupying the south wing of the third floor of the High School in 1956-57.  They would be reassigned to Aquila in the Fall.  During the 1956-'57 school year, that part of the High School would be known as Aquila School, with Bob Dougherty as Principal.
 

Electricity and Journalism classes were added to the curriculum in 1956-57.  Swimming and health were added to Physical Education classes.

Five classrooms in the High School were dedicated to business training.  Among the equipment students practiced on were Burroughs adding machines and calculators, NCR and Clary adding machines, comptometers, Fredin calculators, dictaphones, and ediphones.

The Home Ec suite featured a yellow and blue-green kitchen with formica table tops, copper cannisters and appliances, three electric stoves, three gas ranges, two dishwashers, Italian provincial chairs, decorated with yellow and white appliqued plastic.

A model Teen Age Code was developed by the Governor's Youth Council and the Governor's Advisory Council on Children and Youth at a conference in May 1956.  The draft was forwarded to youth throughout the state to discuss and revise.  At the St. Louis Park High Youth Conference in November 1956, 275 students and a group of parents modified the code for their own use.  In January 1957, students and the PTA approved the Code.  The school got national publicity for being an innovator. Topics covered in the Code include home entertaining, general dating, hours, driving, drinking, and smoking.  Students on the original committee were John Bjornstad, John McHugh, and Susan Robbins.  A similar code was adopted for the Junior High as well.  Our thanks to Roland Larson for providing us with copies of these documents. 

Pearl Souers was the cafeteria supervisor for the school system.  In a February 1957 interview with the Echo, she said she liked making Sloppy Joes the best.  The recipe was 25 pounds of hamburger and 20 gallons of "tomato condiments" cooked in a 40 gallon double boiler.

9,600 kids were in the school system in 1957.  79 new teachers had to be hired due to an “epidemic of pregnancies.”

To save money on school buses, the maximum distance a student had to walk to school was increased from .8 mile to 1 mile.  This was expected to affect 50-75 students.

The Class of 1957 graduated 279 students, including Roger Plantikow, who earned a four-year scholarship to Yale.
 


1957-58


Aquila Elementary School was built in 1957 at 8500 W. 31st. Street. An addition was built in 1967.

Cedar Manor Elementary School was built at 9400 Cedar Lake Road in 1957.
 

1957 was a big year in music:
The newly-hired Mervyn Lysing led the Varsity Band, made up of 84 sophomores.

Earl Bohm directed the 63 piece Concert Band, made up of juniors and seniors.

Gordon Greibenow conducted the 95 member Glee Club and the 86 member Senior Chorus.


In October 1957 Park's Alma Mater was born, adapted from the "Heidelberg Song" and "Prince of Pilsen" by Gustav Lunders.  A copyright was obtained for the bands to play at school functions.

The new Graphic Arts Department, carved out of a former study hall, was headed by Elmer Lundgren.  Equipment included four job presses, one offset press, lead and slug cutting and mitering machine, bookbinding unit, hydraulic paper cutter, combination proofreading and layout table, and 33 fonts or sets of five different classes of type.

The proprietors at the Miracle Mile Barber Shop were so appalled at the poor sportsmanship of Park's spectators at the Park-Edina hockey game of January 25, 1958 that they took out an ad in the Echo to chastise them.

Dean Berry taught remedial and speed reading using a tachisto scope that flashed word groups on a screen.

The Class of 1958 graduated 324 students.
 


1958-59


Timothy Lutheran Day School was convened in 1958 in the basement of Timothy Lutheran Church, 7814 Minnetonka Blvd.

In the Fall of 1958, Mayor Herbert Lefler convened a series of Mayor's Committees on Youth Improvement:

  • Counseling and guidance

  • Recreation

  • Anti-social behavior

  • Youth employment

  • Strengthening family ties

  • Health and sanitation

  • Traffic and safety

The committees included students from Park High and Benilde, members of the City Council and the School Board, citizens, and professionals. 

Youth Interested in Politics was organized in 1958, with Russell Christianson as the advisor.  Although they were called YIP, they had no connection to the Yippies.  The group quickly broke up into Republican and Democratic factions.  By 1962, the groups had been renamed Liberals and Conservatives.

A cooperative work program featuring office occupations was initiated in 1958-59 but was dropped after two years.  Electronics was also added that year, as was German, taken by 58 sophomores and juniors.

In 1958 the Rooters Club was a boys' pep club consisting of George Emerson, Dave Fleming, Jeff Stranahan, and Bill Fowler.  They attended a cheerleading clinic in Hopkins to learn the ropes. 

Soopersilledgical Pep Week was held in January 1959 by the Class of 1961.  The purpose was to build spirit, and one way was to resurrect Louis, the Spirit of the Park.  Unfortunately, the picture in the Echo of Louis made him look like a guy in a sheet.  They would hold one every year and continue the theme at their 50th Class reunion.

 

The Class of '59 (population 335) put together an lp called "The Echowane."  Ted Meland describes it thus:  "It was recordings from different events and activities throughout the school year. A student named Bruce Stuebing took a tape recorder to everything from pep rallies to ball games to concerts to plays--and there are snippets from these things on the record."  Sounds like a collectors' item!  See more under the Echowan.


The Class of '59 also has an extensive web site at http://www.stlouispark59.net/SLP59/Home.html  Check out the teachers section for profiles of those you might have had.


 


1959-60


Westwood Junior High was built at 2025 Texas Avenue So. in 1959. 2,000 people attended its dedication on November 1, 1959. Paul Schroeder was principal from day 1 until 1983. The school was built to supplement Central Jr. High and was designed to serve up to 1,200 students. That first year, enrollment was 757.

Administrative changes in 1959-60:

  • Senior High:  Principal Edward Foltmer became secondary education director, replaced by Bertil Johnson

  • Central Jr. High:  Howard Buska went from assistant administrator to Principal.  Stanley A. Wignes, Principal at Granite Falls, became assistant Principal at Central.

  • Westwood Jr. High:  Paul Schroeder went from assistant Sr. High principal to Westwood Principal.  Adolph J. Leonhardi, principal at Grand Meadows, became assistant Principal.

A 1960 Youth Conference was held at the high school on February 16. The topic was “Culture of American Youth – Decadence or Progress?” Two decidedly adult speakers were featured.


"Modern" mathematics came to be in 1959-60.

IBM computers were used for the first time to produce schedules, report cards, etc.  The production was done by the Service Bureau Corp.

Adult education, directed by Lyle Williams, had 187 students in the Fall of 1959.  Russian, taught by Robert Russell, was #1 in popularity.
 

Among the 472 graduating seniors in the Class of 1960 were 7 sets of twins.

In 1960, Park was the only school in the Lake Conference that allowed students to leave the building for lunch.  The Echo reported that merchants were complaining.
 


1960-61


1500 students attended Park High in 1960-61 - and this was before the Circle was built.

The first instance of team teaching occurred in the Fall of 1960, when George Olsen and Stephanie Edgerton taught Social Problems.
 

A $1,053,000 bond issue was passed in  December 1960, in part to replace the 1914 Central building with a new wing.


The Class of 1961 had no valedictorian - instead, the Top 10 students were lauded.  481 students graduated.
 


1961-62

 

Park won the Boys State Basketball Championship in March 1962.  See Sports.

 

There were 442 in the Class of 1962.

 


1962-63


There were 63 sets of twins attending St. Louis Park schools in the 1962-63 school year.

The "circle" was added to the high school, opening in 1962.  It was first known as the "silo."

The 1914 building at Central was razed and replaced in 1962.  The Echo reported that because of this "patch up job," Freshmen were moved to different buildings:  380 to the Sr. High and 150 to Westwood.  Those at the High School were excluded from activities and confined to campus during lunch, but snuck out anyway.
 

An interesting addition to the curriculum during the Cold War years (1962-64) was Russian.


By Homecoming 1962, Looie/Louis, the "Spirit of St. Louis Park," had morphed into Sparky.  In 1963, Joel Thom was Sparky, and in 1965, Ian Swatez was "underneath." Not sure when this was done, but Sparky shows up in a tile mural in the cafeteria:

 

Photo courtesy Richard Novak


Jeff Kleinbaum brought this cute stuffed Sparky to the 2012 All-School Reunion.  This one looks a little happier.  Photo by Rick Sewall


200 students participated in Adult Education on Monday nights in 1962.  Classes took place at the High School and at Central.

The Chess Club, advised by Physics teacher Peter Ringsrud, had 20 members in 1962.
 


1963-64

 

In 1963-64 there were 771 sophomores, 808 juniors, and 598 seniors.  15 new teachers came to Park High.

 

New courses offered were Russian II, French IV, Physical Sciencce, and Accelerated Shorthand.  A new club was the Future Teachers of America.  The Glee Club was renamed the Choir.

 

A policy of closed lunch was instituted, forbidding students from leaving the lunch room, even just to sit out on the lawn during lunchtime. 

 

In 1963 Superintendent Harold Enestvedt was one of four Minnesotans to travel to Sweden for six weeks to evaluate the country’s school system and make recommendations for changes. The program was financed by the Swedish government.

 

The suggestion of adding a Homecoming King was tabled by the Student Council.

 

Someone gave us this huge sign!  Photo (and photoshopping) by Richard Novak

 

Mark Linder was the president of YIP, Youth Interested in Politics.  The group planned to produce a newsletter with editorials on both sides of issues.  Ultra-conservative Sheldon Emery spoke to the group, and a liberal was planned, possibly Eugene McCarthy.

 

Westwood's Ski Club was inaugurated with 12 students.


Class of 1964 alum David Englund has put together a virtual yearbook of pictures and comments from that year's Echowan

Here's a souvenir mug given to the Class of '64 upon their graduation.  Members of future classes remember getting beer mugs (when the drinking age was 18). 


 


1964-65


In the 1964-65 school year there were 11,586 students and 589 teachers.  Park High had 6 sets of twins.
 

Advanced Placement American History debuted in 1964-65.


1965-66


Open Lunch was officially outlawed.

 

Perky Tjornhom was one of five or six students who served as the 1965-66 Sparky, doing cheers, dancing with the Pom-Pom girls, and "anything else he feels like doing."  The person inside had to don a big plaster head - the person with the biggest trunk got to be Sparky.

In 1965 there were so many students in band that a third band was created.

A $2.9 million bond issue was passed in November 1965 to build two new schools (Susan Lindgren and Peter Hobart), remodel eight others, build an addition onto Westwood Jr. High, and build swimming pools at both junior highs.

December 1965 saw the advent of the Granny Dress, which was basically kind of a long calico print nightgown. As with any fad, the school district promptly banned them – except for school dances. (“The [Central] School handbook definitely states that students must clear any new fads through our office.”) They were selling big in local stores such as Haugland’s for the Young in Miracle Mile, and Powers at Knollwood, which advertised “Mother and Daughter Granny Look A Likes” with matching head scarves. The buyer at Haugland’s pitched the dresses as dual purpose: “They can also be used for robes or nightgowns.” But even as the fad reached its zenith, most were reporting that it was already on its way out.

The old Lincoln School building was demolished in 1966.
 


1966-67


Park Hill was decommissioned in 1967.

 

The Echowan Dance, February 10, 1967, featured a Battle of the Bands between the Calvadas vs. the Shires. 

 

Home Ec was divided between cooking, sewing, and family living.

 

A Park High Arts Festival was held in February/March 1967.

 

Westwood purchased a camera, video recorder, monitor, microphones, and other equipment which allowed teachers to record events for playback in class. 
 


1967-68


Peter Hobart Elementary School was built in 1967 at 6500 W. 26th Street and dedicated that September.

Roger Anderson was the adviser of the program for exceptional students, which started in 1964.  Anderson taught history, math, English, and an occupational interest course.  Class sizes were kept to about 15 students.

The "McDonald's Wing" of the high school was added in 1967.  The new space was used primarily for industrial arts classes. 

 

Social worker Jon Adelsman organized Project Search, an encounter group for Westwood parents.  This first year, ten groups of ten to twelve participants met at the school in the evenings. 

 

A new Trade and Industry course allowed students to take time from school to work in the manufacturing trades, similar to Distributive Education which focused on selling and distributing goods.  The course was developed by Bob McKay and involved 15-18 students.
 

At Westwood, Mr. Miller taught electronics to a group of boys during home room time.  About 20 8th and 9th grade boys participated according to the Westwinds.  Projects included short wave radios, car flashers, radio kids, and the repair of transistor radios.  The course was continued the following year. 


Additional space also made it possible to add orchestra to the curriculum.  Conductor George Chlebecek had been working with the 19 sophomore students since fifth grade. 
 

Park High began a "Nature of Prejudice" course.


Room 3 at the High School was designated as a resource room for Park's blind students.  Mrs. Rosamond Olmscheid served as the advisor.  The program started when Phil Kitchen came to Central Jr. High in 1963 after attending a school specifically for the blind in Minneapolis.  The resource room was equipped with books in Braille or on tape, a tape recorder, Braille writers, typewriters, maps with raised features and other special equipment.

Swimming, with its dreadful suits (or lack thereof) was added at the junior high level in 1967 as pools were built at both Central and Westwood. 
 

17 new teachers (and almost 900 sophomores) entered Park High in the fall of 1967.

High School math classes expanded the use of computers in 1967.  Dick Weinberg and Rex Newman built their own computer for a project that started in 1965.  The machine would add and subtract in half a second and  multiply and divide in four seconds, up to 255.  It weighed 70 pounds and cost about $25 to make, as most of the parts were obtained for free from different companies.

A new "Survey of Contemporary Mathematics" course was also offered. 
 

An impressive 110 students attended the first meeting of Westwood's ski club in November.


The High School had a Fencing Club in 1967-68, captained by Teresa Zarembo.  Problems arose when they had to compete with the Parkettes for use of the foyer for practice, and "they were not allowed to use their foils in this quest for rights," reported the Echo.  Finding adult sponsors was another problem. 

 

Two major political figures made appearances at Westwood, as reported in the Westwinds:

  • Representative Clark MacGregor spoke to 9th grade civics classes about his role as Midwest chairman of the Nixon campaign.  He also talked about his role in Congress and his philosophy as a Congressman.

  • Senator Walter Mondale spoke to the entire student body on October 23, 1968.  He spoke about his role as co-chairman of the national committee for Hubert Humphrey, and answered questions from civics students.

In March 1968, speech teacher Pete Peterson was seen on WCCO-TV doing a commercial for Blue Cross. 

 

765 students graduated in the Class of '68.  Decades later they put together a song about their classmates.   
 


1968-69


Susan Lindgren Elementary School was opened in 1968 at 4801 W. 41st Street.
 

High School students could leave the building at lunch but had to stay on the school grounds.  A survey of the local businesses was taken on the subject:

  • McDonald's was for open lunch

  • Park Drug was against

  • Palm Bakery said they didn't have enough staff to handle

  • The Police said an emphatic NO, citing speeding, loitering, and litter

New classes in 1968-69 were Modern English 12, contemporary math, data processing, and business law.

High School enrollment, 1968-69:  2,480 students, as follows:

Sophomores:  830

Juniors:  865

Seniors:  785

Westwood enrollment, 1968-69:  1,254 students, as follows:

Seventh grade:  419

Eighth grade:  408

Ninth grade:  418

Mary Natalie served as the 1968-69 Sparky mascot, hiding her identity as best she could.

Teachers with beards were profiled in the September 25, 1968 Echo:  English teacher Jack Alwin, counselor Kenneth Fletcher, math teacher Roger Thompson, and Mr. Christenson.  Roger DeClercq had recently shaved his beard off.

Park High's Quiz Bowl team won three contests against Edina, Wayzata, and Eden Prairie.  The show began in about 1968 and aired on KSTP-TV.  The team won $120, the World Book Atlas, the World Book Dictionary and the World Book Encyclopedia.  Individual team members each won the World Book Yearbook, a book on John Glenn and a science yearbook. 

Acceding to the inevitable, school administrators approved a relaxed dress code effective April 21, 1969.  Boys could wear blue jeans and girls could finally wear pants (but not jeans) to school.  Shorts were also seen, and sandals, although there was some "bickering" about socks.

Senior Steve Saliterman built a computer that adds, subtracts, multiplies and divides to 100,000 and plays tic-tac-toe.  He began the project in 9th grade. Although not completed, it was a regional finalist in the Minnesota Science Fair.  Steve obtained many of his parts from engineers working at top secret plants.  He also designed his own computer language and punch card code.  Steve was president of the IBM Data Processing Club, which had about 40 members from around the metro area.

April 27 was the date of the 31-mile 1969 Walk for Development.  The Walk had started in North Dakota in September 1968.  Estimates from 3-7,000 participants made their way from Parade Stadium up Glenwood Ave. and down Plymouth Ave. to get to Macalester Student Union.  Echo student reporter Gayle Dorfman (not our future mayor/county commissioner) reported miserable conditions in the drizzle.  The event was organized by Twin City youth in cooperation with the American Freedom from Hunger Foundation, which represents the United Nation's campaign against hunger in the United States, according to an article in the September 10, 1969 Echo.  $60,000 was raised.  Such walks had been held in 8 other cities across the country before the one in the Twin Cities, including Madison, Fargo, and Austin, Texas. 
 

1969 grad Gary Samsky and five other Park alumni started the Acme Film Society, located at 7 1/2 E. 26th Street.  It was a place for amateur filmmakers to present their films free of charge.  Feature films were shown along with student films.  The screen was a make-shift cloth.  One of the participants was future Hollywood editor Steve Rivkin.

 


1969-70


New courses for 1969-70 included anthropology, data processing, stagecraft, and nine new courses in physical education.
 

The Environmental Action Committee was formed.


Mrs. Billie E. Lee replaced Miss Pearl Sauers as coordinator of the school lunch program for Park schools in the fall of 1969.

The new dress code, which was written by students and approved in April 1969, was upheld by Principal Bertil Johnson in the fall.

In September 1969, High School teachers staged a "sickout" and turned down proposed wages of $7,000 - $11,200 for teachers with BAs and $7,839 - $14,264 for those with MAs. 

October 15, 1969, was Moratorium Day, when the Student Mobilization Committee demanded “Peace Now” and gathered at Northrop Auditorium for speeches. Numbers of St. Louis Park High School students walked out carrying candles. Those at Central Jr. High were told to get away from the windows.

 

An alternative student newspaper called The Current appeared in late 1969/early 1970, edited by Daniel J. Meyers.  Volume 2, No. 1, dated January 12-19, 1970, included articles on the November 15, 1969, Moratorium March on Washington, attended by and reported on by Brian Hurd; the pros and cons of a draft information class; a report on a meeting at the Jewish Community Center to discuss anti-Semitism at Park High; the story of a girl sentenced to prison for 20 years for smoking marijuana; an equally alarming story about boys in swimming class being hit with a paddle; a letter to the editor from Irwin Barr, Student Council member, about the ineffectiveness of said Student Council; movie reviews; and a review of a Janis Joplin concert. 

The Astrology Club had its first meeting at the High School on February 20, 1970.  The guest speaker demonstrated Tarot cards.  The group started when Marsha Zeesman and Julie Meyerson bought a Ouija Board.  The group branched out into astrology, palmistry, numerology, psychic phenomena and divination.  In a February 25, 1970 issue of the Echo, Marsha said "As we became more involved, the board began to 'threaten' us.  In order to 'protect' ourselves we sore the Seal of Solomon."

The second annual Walk for Development was held on May 3, 1970.  The 31-mile walk was sponsored by the American Freedom from Hunger Foundation.  Students organizing Park walkers were Carolyn McNeil, Irwin Barr, Jeanne Gill, Joel Guttman, Jan Karpel, Chuck Lipkin and Dianne Mickelson.
 

In 1970 there were 11,600 students in the system, 900 employees, and 790 graduates.  While the school was issuing rules banning gum and heels at commencement, it apparently forgot to mention pot, as a cloud wafted over the crowd.  The rule about guys wearing white shirts was also not adhered to, as some guys opted to wear nothing at all under their gowns.  Tsk.

 


1970-71


The 1970-71 school year saw 10,601 students in 14 schools:

Aquila:  680

Brookside:  423

Cedar Manor:  631

Eliot:  672

Ethel Baston:  563

Fern Hill:  395

Lenox:  531

Oak Hill:  81

Park Knoll:  581

Peter Hobart:  530

Susan Lindgren:  543

Central Jr. High:  1,288

Westwood Jr. High:  1,213

Senior High:  2,470
 

Westwood Jr. High went to Modular scheduling in the fall of 1970.  Westwinds reporter Stuart Martin explained that "modular scheduling evolved as the result of our school's desire several years ago to become North Central Association accredited.  For one year there was a scrutinizing self-evaluation.  During this period it was agreed upon that there wasn't full use of facilities, nor were students getting enough learning experience."  The school day was divided into 16 modules of 24 minutes each.  Principal Paul C. Schroeder said that the system would allow for more elective courses such as developmental reading, industrial arts for girls, home economic for boys and speech.  The change came as a result of requests by staff members to change the emphasis from "feeding knowledge to students to self-exploration."  $101,000 was allotted to the school by the school board for writing new curriculum, hiring teachers' aids and para-professionals, and purchasing resource center materials. 
 

The counselors set up a "Rap Room" as an informal space for students to... rap.  It was closed the next year due to space needs. 

 

Senatorial Candidate Hubert Humphrey participated in the 1970 St. Louis Park High School Homecoming parade in early October. Also in the parade was Faith Kipperstin, Maid Marian (Miss St. Louis Park). This year's slogan was "Beat the Hill out of Mound."  Humphrey also came to Westwood Jr. High to speak and answer questions from students in the school cafeteria, which also had a stage. 

 

The High School conducted "Youth Conferences" over several weekends.  The purpose of the events included personal growth, better communication among students and between students and teachers, and the opportunity of gaining several close friends.  The Student Council held the first session, called a Communications Workshop.  The purpose was to gain trust in one another, learn how to function in a group, develop shared leadership, and discuss Council goals.  Psychology teacher George Olsen was adviser to the conferences. 


In 1971, for the first time, teachers in the public schools were issued guidelines as to how to celebrate the holidays. With 30 to 40 percent of the school population Jewish, Christmas was beginning to tread the line between church and state. Teachers were told no cards, no gifts, no evergreens, no Christmas carols (in non-elective courses) – and parties were to be designated “before the winter holiday.”
 

The Student Council published a Student Declaration of Rights in the Spring of 1971.


 

May 9 was the date of the 1971 Walk for Development.  The event started at Parade Stadium and ended at Loring Park.  Participants reported giant blisters, leg cramps, and at least one came to school on crutches. 

 

 

   Image courtesy Joel Held


 

Westwood Westwinds reporter Lisa Swaiman warned students of the current fads of squirt guns:  "You can see the weapons hidden in notebooks, pockets, purses, or concealed sneakily in a closed hand...  they're the danger of Westwood corridors this spring.  Beware!"  Other hazards were marbles rolling down the halls.  Really!

 


1971-72

 

2,432 students attended Park High:

873 Sophomores

789 Juniors

770 Seniors


Mini-School was an alternative high school program that targeted students who had not experienced success in the school system as it is and were at risk of dropping out.  The program started with 70 juniors and seniors.  There were no tests, and classes were pass/fail.  Assistant principal Frank Miller was the originator of the program.  The goals were to:

  • provide for development of a more positive self image

  • provide for a successful learning situation

  • stimulate involvement through student-teacher relationships

  • provide a less stressful learning environment.

Students started their day with "Families," a 45-minute rap session where they shared with other students and teachers, whom they called by their first names.  Craig Anderson, Bill Daley, John Dewey, and Carol Thompson taught social studies, science, math and English in unusual and creative ways and provided options for short-term courses in subjects like pickle making, bread baking, decoupage, and field trips. 

 

In February 1974 there were 115 students participating in Mini-School.


 

"Interim" was new in 1971:  one week set aside for electives with no grades or credits.  The purpose was to:

  • make school relevant to the students;

  • provide experiences not normally offered in school

  • involve students and faculty in positive human relationships

  • provide an opportunity for all students to have a positive school experience

A new grading system was instituted with A, B, C, D, E, I, and NC.  F was eliminated, and NC's could be made up, were not part of a student's rank, and not on the record if made up.  Each student could take one pass/no credit class each semester.


English was reorganized as Language Arts.

 

The Home Ec food course was divided into Modern Food Techniques and Food Specialties.  A Home Ec course called Creative Living Space taught interior design, architecture, and buying and renting.  Boys took Home Ec classes for the first time. 

 

Math courses included computer math, contemporary geometry, probability and statistics, and trigonometry. 

 

Gordon Gunlock taught a photography course that was taken by mostly seniors.

 

John Podolinsky taught Oceanography. 

 

The Art Department was completely restructured.
 

New sports included:

  • Water Polo (it was unofficial last year)

  • Intramural Hockey, organized by Mike Weiner, with teams like the Puckers, Serbies, Bombers, and Arribas 

  • A High School Table Tennis league organized by the Minnesota Table Tennis Association in collaboration with Magoo's, 1516 E. Lake Street.  This was a local ping pong club with 14 teams.

  • Bowling
     

Community Education was initiated.

 

The Environmental Action Committee was chaired by Kem Anderson. 

 

In November 1971 the School Board voted down Open Lunch, citing problems with cars, littering, loitering, and vandalism.

 

Under the leadership of Instrumental Music Department Chairman Earl Bohm, a state-ofthe-art Electronic Music Studio was set up, with a tape deck, two speakers, head sets, $2,200 Electro-Comp Synthesizer, and manual controller.  It was the first of its kind in American public schools.

 

Vandalism was a serious problem, with the Echo pleading "STOP IT!"  Students were drawing and carving on walls, breaking windows, setting fires, stealing from cars, kicking in lockers, writing on desks, tearing and removing screens and throwing them out the windows, destroying thermostats and fire extinguishers, removing bathroom doors, and even leaving footprints on the ceilings of bathrooms.  One girl told of throwing a toilet down an elevator shaft. 

 

1971 saw the arrival of Anita Silbert, High School hall monitor, counselor, and friend to hundreds of Park High students over the next 30+ years. See Smokin' in the Boys' Room for more on our Anita. 

 

Another attempt to control the chaos was the formation of a Problems Committee, made up of students, faculty, parents, residents, and police.  Whether this came to fruition is unknown.

 

In December there was a weekend Encounter Session at Westwood with a goal of personal growth. 

 

The voting age changed in Minnesota, adding 221,000 new voters.  There were no student deferments from the draft except for divinity students.

 

In an article in the Echo on unique hobbies, Senior Ron Neter was mentioned along with four former Park students - including Joel Coen - for their Coney Island Enterprises film company.

 

Theresa Briscese was President of Park High's Women's Lib Club; Carolyn Charles was the faculty advisor.

 

Expo '72 took place on April 8-9 with displays and exhibits designed to promote the City.  Featured were arts and crafts, ecology, drama, music, ham radio, health service, youth hostels, fencing, history, and photography. 

 

The 1972 Walk for Development took place on May 6:  31 miles starting at Memorial Stadium.  There was also a Walk for Israel:  24 miles sponsored by the Minneapolis B'nai B;rith Youth Organization. 

 

Park Students for Environmental Protection (as the Environmental group was now called) held a recycling drive for paper, glass and cans in the spring of 1972.

 


1972-73

 

Metropolitan Open School, located at 3390 Library Lane, was established in 1972.
 

Girls' Interscholastic sports started in the fall of 1972.


The St. Louis Park Senior Center opened at the former Lenox Elementary School in 1972.

Hennepin County Vo-Tech opened in Osseo and Eden Prairie in the fall of 1972.  Courses taught included fluid power, powder metallurgy, key punch operator, and the building trades.
 

The 1972-73 student body had:

803 sophomores
833 juniors
715 seniors

 

The school day was transformed into the infamous "Mods" in 1972-72, with courses ranging from 45, 60, and 90 minutes.  Study hall was now "Prep." 


The popular Mass Media course was retooled into the phenomenally popular Electric Humanities course, taught by Jack Alwin, Carolyn Charles, and Pete Peterson.  330 students had the option to choose from 18 subject areas that included advertising, and film production.  Each student was required to make at least two film, radio, or TV productions during the semester.  A major difference was that the press was no longer part of the course.

Mini School was expanded from 70 to 120 students (and now including sophomores), and the curriculum expanded from just English and social studies to include math and science. 

Oak Hill School was transformed into offices in 1973.

 

The fifth annual Walk for Development took place on May 6, 1973, sponsored by the American Freedom from Hunger Foundation.  Recipients of funds included the Zion Day Care Center, Leech Lake Youth Organization, Woman's Council, and New Vocations, a student job-creation program in Red Wing.

 

Could this 1973 graduation memento be a beer stein??
 


1973-74

 

Fall 1973 was the first year girls could win letters for sports.

 

In late 1973 a plan was put in place in case there was not enough energy to keep the school open.  


In about 1973, Hennepin County schools started mainstreaming disabled students into the general population.  In 1979, 21 hearing-impaired students were studying at Park High.  Those with the most severe hearing losses are accompanied to class by one of three professionally trained interpreters. 

Interim 1973 saw the advent of what would become St. Louis Park High School radio station KDXL.

The School Cabinet was formed in early 1973, consisting of 7 students, 5 teachers, and 2 principals.  It was meant to function in addition to the Student Council and Faculty Senate.

Religion in Human Culture was taught for the first time in January 1974 by Wesley Bodin and Lee Smith.  It was developed with funds from a Title III Elementary and Secondary Education Act grant, which was renewed in the fall.  The curriculum was developed with the participation of a student advisory committee, community advisory committee and professional consultants.  The course was field tested at Park and at Benilde, and Bodin and Smith held a teachers' workshop for teachers from other schools that planned to field test it as well.  The course received much local and national attention. 

 

The sixth annual Walk for Development (24 miles), sponsored by the American Freedom from Hunger Foundation, was scheduled for May 4, 1974.  The fifth annual Walk for Mankind (22 miles), a combined effort by Project Concern of Minnesota, the Metro YMCAs and various student leaders, was scheduled for May 11. 
 

After the demise of Excelsior Amusement Park, the 1974 school patrol picnic was held at the Southtown and Village North Shopping Centers.

After 31 years as school nurse, Emy Monk retired in the spring of 1974.

 


1974-75


In 1974 Benilde merged with St. Margaret’s Academy, a Catholic girls’ school in Minneapolis.
 

The high school experimented with boys cheerleading in 1974-75.


Oak Hill School was decommissioned and sold in 1974. 

Hattie Steinberg, journalism teacher and Echo-Echowan advisor for 12 years, retired in the summer of 1975.

Brookside was decommissioned as a St. Louis Park school in 1975.

 

Seniors drank Champaign to celebrate graduation - during the ceremony!

 

Oak Hill School was demolished on August 28, 1975.  Duplexes were built on the site.
 


1975-76

 

 


1976-77

 

The Class of 1977 was 618 with 309 girls and 309 boys.


On April 6 the School Board voted 4-3 to close Eliot and Park Knoll schools.  The decision was made at a meeting attended by nearly 500 citizens and under the glare of local news teams.  Dissenters had wanted to close Fern Hill instead of Eliot.

 

 


1977-78

 

Hall monitor Anita Silbert doubled as the cheerleader advisor from 1977-81.

 

The Debate Team dissolved mid 1977-78 but came back in the fall of 1980.


Park Knoll School was sold in 1978. 

 

Home Ec and Industrial Arts classes were about half and half girls and boys.
 


1978-79

 

The day's 16 periods were reduced to 11.  Many teachers were moved from the junior highs to the senior high.

 

A new pie-shaped TV studio was created and equipped thanks to a federal grant.  The new facility included two control rooms, and editing room, and animation room.

 

Vandalism was at a crisis level at the high school, with 4-5 thermostats being destroyed per week.  Glass was broken and lockers were broken into at an alarming rate.

 

On December 8, 1978, Park students threw opposing cheerleaders in snowbanks and fought with winning opponents after a football game at Edina West.  They also posted an obscene banner on Edina East.

 

A new policy in December 1978 prohibited students from bringing food into the high school or removing food from the cafeteria. 

 

Someone marred the murals in the cafeteria with swasticas.

 

The first floor circle boys bathroom (near Mini-School) was closed due to drug dealing.

 

Mini-School goals were stated to be:

  • Self awareness

  • Knowledge of cultures

  • Artistic experiences

  • Survival skills:  reading, writing, and arithmetic

The 10th Annual Walk for Mankind took place on May 15, 1979, with proceeds going to Project Concern.  The Walk started at Normandale Community College.

 


1979-80


Central was decommissioned as a junior high in 1980, and Westwood became St. Louis Park Junior High.  The High School became grades 9-12, and the Junior High was 6-8. 9th Graders felt gypped that they were robbed of their chance to be big men and women on the Jr. High campus.
 

57 teachers were put on "unrequested leave" due to declining enrollment.  Many appealed their status and were reinstated.

 

Cheerleading advisor Anita Silbert announced stricter rules for cheerleaders.

 

Bells were brought back to the high school for the first time since 1971, and the students were insulted that the administration thought they needed reminders of when to come to class.

 

Chris Duggin drew a new Orioles logo, striking fear in the hearts of our opponents. 

 

Of the 688 seniors that enrolled at the beginning of the 1979-80 school year, only 577 graduated.

 


1980-81

 

Dr. Marjorie Bingham offered a course in Women in World Studies, which she developed over a three year period.

 

Security Aide Curt Mock, age 24, was hired mostly to monitor the parking lot.

 

In the fall of 1980 Central Jr. High was closed and 9th graders now went to the high school, pushing the high school population from 1,800 to 2,075. 

 

Reversing a move made in 1971, NC (no credit) was changed to F.  Students still had the option of taking courses Pass/NC. 

 

Vandalism continued, mostly in the bathrooms, as students ripped out sinks, spread graffiti, knocked tiles off the walls, stole the toilet paper, and broke windows.  If caught they were subject to restitution, and if they followed through they wouldn't go to court.

 

The fencing team was reinstituted by cheryl Gunness and Shelly Bornstein with four sophomores and six seniors.  They had to borrow equipment from Wayzata or use the old 1973 apparatus.  There were six other teams in the area.  Their coach was Bill Stanley.  There had been a team in 1978 but it fell apart.

 

On December 16, 1980, a basketball game with Bloomington Jefferson was videotaped by the opposition, complete with commetary about Jews, coaches, cheeerleaders, fans and players.  Augie Schmidt showed the tape to our players but it was unclear whether Bloomington's remarks were broadcast.

 


1981-82


Ethel Baston School was sold to Groves Learning Center in 1982.

Fern Hill School II was sold to Torah Academy in 1982.
 

14 teachers throughout the district were cut.  A comparison with 1973 figures showed a 56 percent reduction in the student body and a 68 percent reduction in staff.

 

Handbell ringing, the vocal jazz ensemble, and physical education career education were cut.

 

Maimonides High School was founded in 1982.
 

 

 


1982-83

 

The class of 1983 had 484 students; exactly half and half girls and boys.

 


1983-84


In 1983, Homecoming was held on ice at the Rec Center while the gym was refinished.
 


1984-85


Minneapolis Jewish Day School, located at 4330 Cedar Lake Road, came to St. Louis Park in 1984.

Enrollment began declining drastically in the mid 1980s.  In 1984-'85 the following courses were suspended:  Shorthand I and II, music appreciation, foreign foods.  Others eyed for the chopping block were creative photography, advanced design, painting and drawing III and sculpture.  Also, the varsity and concert bands were combined into a pep band, directed by Dr. Lance Strickland.  Although a new swimming pool, track and bleachers were added, those expenses were paid for by the sale of elementary schools, and could not be transferred for teachers' salaries. 
 



An All-School Class Reunion was held in 1990.

 

Central became the home of the Park Spanish Immersion Program in 1996.

Bais Yaakov High School began in 1996.
 


An All-School Class Reunion was held on August 25, 2012.  See photos on the Patch
and videos by Park TV.

On the same day, the High School's new artificial turf athletic field was dedicated.  See Greg Kleven's thumb's up review of the new field in the Sun-Sailor.  Also see remarks at the dedication by Athletic Director Andy Ewald

St. Louis Park Jr. High became St. Louis Park Middle School in the 2012-13 term.  It serves students in Grades 6-8.

Due to an unexpected increase in the elementary school population, classroom space once more became tight and the School District is weighing options to increase capacity.  See Seth Rowe's article in the Sun-Sailor from December 6, 2012. 

Dr. Debra Bowers, who had been Superintendent since 2004, stepped down as of June 30, 2013.  See Seth Rowe's article in the Sun-Sailor.


 

This information comes from a variety of sources: newspapers, books, yearbooks, phone directories, interviews, etc. Given the varied sources, we cannot guarantee that all of this information is correct, and welcome any additions and corrections. Please contact us with your contributions and comments.