There is much more that can be added to
this timeline; please contact us if you have any additions or corrections.
St. Louis Park Schools
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
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
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.
Waddell and Ethel Baston were among the seven students who
graduated in 1905. Baston descendant Scott Stumpf has
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
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.
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."
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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."
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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?"
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
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
Three tennis courts, a girls' soccer field, and a basketball
court were built at the High School during the summer of
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
The Class of 1941 was 113 strong. They celebrated their 70th reunion in June
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
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
The Class of 1944 had 114 members.
The Fall of 1944 saw 890 students in
grades 7-12, about evenly distributed. There were 13
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
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
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
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
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
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
In the fall of 1949 Shop class was
divided into General (required for 7th grade boys), wood,
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
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
Class of 1950 seniors with a B average
or better did not have to take final exams. There were
177 graduates in the class.
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
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
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.
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
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
"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,
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
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
The PTA donated reading accelerator machines, in which a
plastic curtain moved down the page making the student read
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
The Ham Radio Club was formed in March 1955, organized by
Jeffrey Pearce. Algebra teacher Roger Krause was the
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
Eugene Sundt became the choral director
of Central Jr. High and produced the first Spring Concert in
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
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.
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:
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
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.
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
The Class of '59 also has an extensive web site at
out the teachers section for profiles of those you might
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
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
"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.
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
A $1,053,000 bond issue was passed in December 1960,
in part to replace the 1914 Central building with a new
In 1961 the entire school system participated in a spring
concert at the Minneapolis Auditorium.
The Class of 1961 had no valedictorian - instead, the Top 10
students were lauded. 481 students graduated.
Park won the Boys State Basketball Championship in March
1962. See Sports.
There were 442 in the Class of 1962.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
In 1964 the entire school system participated in a spring
concert at the Minneapolis Auditorium.
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).
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.
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
The old Lincoln School building was demolished in 1966.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
In March 1968, speech teacher Pete Peterson was seen on WCCO-TV
doing a commercial for Blue Cross.
In the spring of 1968, a student we'll call "Ed" set off a
bomb in a locker in the basement of the high school.
Not a protest, just a prank. Ed was given the choice
of stars or stripes, and he chose the Navy over jail.
765 students graduated in the Class of '68. Decades
later they put together a
song about their classmates.
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
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
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
New courses for 1969-70 included anthropology, data processing, stagecraft, and nine new courses in
The Environmental Action Committee was
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
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
The 1970-71 school year saw 10,601 students in 14 schools:
Cedar Manor: 631
Ethel Baston: 563
Fern Hill: 395
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
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.
2,432 students attended Park High:
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
stimulate involvement through
provide a less stressful learning
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
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
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
Gordon Gunlock taught a photography
course that was taken by mostly seniors.
John Podolinsky taught Oceanography.
The Art Department was completely
New sports included:
Water Polo (it was unofficial last
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.
Community Education was
The Environmental Action Committee was chaired by Kem
In November 1971 the School Board voted down Open Lunch,
citing problems with cars, littering, loitering, and
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
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
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
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.
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
The 1972-73 student body had:
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
Could this 1973 graduation memento be a
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
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
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.
In 1974 Benilde merged with St. Margaret’s Academy, a
Catholic girls’ school in Minneapolis.
The high school experimented with boys cheerleading in
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
Seniors drank Champaign to celebrate graduation - during the
Oak Hill School was demolished on August 28, 1975.
Duplexes were built on the site.
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.
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.
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
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:
The 10th Annual Walk for Mankind took
place on May 15, 1979, with proceeds going to Project
Concern. The Walk started at Normandale Community
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
Cheerleading advisor Anita Silbert announced stricter rules
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
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.
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
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
Ethel Baston School was sold to Groves Learning Center in
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.
The class of 1983 had 484 students;
exactly half and half girls and boys.
In 1983, Homecoming was held on ice at the Rec Center while
the gym was refinished.
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
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
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.
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.