When you are celebrating your 100th birthday, you have earned the privilege of spreading the festivities over many months. After all, there’s a lot of history to commemorate. Thus, over the weekend, 100 years since it’s founding, Park School began its Centennial Celebration. The birthday celebration will last the entire school year and the memories will last long into the future.
How Park is Celebrating
The Centennial Celebration kicked-off on Friday with a Brown and White Day Parade. Dressed in school colors students, faculty and staff gathered for an all-school photo, taken from above by a drone. The more than 1200 members of the school community stood in formation to spell the word PARK. On Saturday the festivities continued with an old-time carnival with games, crafts, entertainment and food.
The celebratory year will conclude on Alumni Weekend, May 31-June 1, when the whole Park community celebrates with varsity games, a BBQ, an alumni concert, and faculty and alumni reunions.
Park School Rooted In Progress
When describing Park School today, words such as innovative, progressive and alternative come to mind. But these same adjectives have been used throughout the school’s 100-year history. When Park was conceived in 1911, the Baltimore City School System was in crisis. Mayor James Preston was at odds with innovative Superintendent of Schools James H. Van Sickle, who had been fighting to modernize a system that the Baltimore Sun had called a disgrace. The Mayor replaced three School Commissioners with hand-picked conservatives, who formed a new majority that ousted the superintendent. Other Commissioners resigned in protest. And out of this political controversy, The Park School of Baltimore was born.
At the same time, many parents were looking for alternatives for their children, including private schools, but for Jewish families the choices were few, because many schools did not accept Jews or had quotas.
As a result, Eli Frank Sr. (one of the fired commissioners) Goucher Professor Hans Froelicher and General Lawrason Riggs (two of the Commissioners who resigned in protest), and a group of 13 men, founded The Park School, the first non-sectarian independent school in Baltimore and a leader in the Progressive Education movement.
The Park School opened its doors September 30, 1912 on Auchentoroly Terrace, across from Druid Hill Park. In 1917, it moved to Liberty Heights Avenue, now the site of the Community College of Baltimore City, and in 1959 to its current home on Old Court Road. In June 1954, Park would continue to be a leader in diversity as the first independent school in the area to accept African-American students.
Now 100 years later from its opening day, Park continues to be committed to its progressive roots, to innovative teaching and intellectual inquiry, and to diversity.
Park’s Public Centennial Events
October 23 at 7pm: Lecture by Dr. David Perkins, Senior Professor of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and former co-director with Howard Gardner of Project Zero, an educational research group whose mission is to understand and enhance learning and to promote critical and creative thinking in all disciplines. Dr. Perkins is the author of Making Learning Whole: How 7 Principles of Teaching Can Transform Education. The event is free and open to the public.
November 10, 5-11pm: The fourteenth Park Auction. Since 1979, 13 Park Auctions have provided $3.3 million for the Financial Assistance Endowment Fund and Faculty Salaries. The evening includes hundreds of silent and live auction items, hors d’oeuvres and dinner. Open to the public. Tickets are $100.
March 3, 4:00-8pm: Brain Thrust—Come curious, leave smarter. Riveting presentations and hands-on experiences will be provided by Park alumni, faculty, and current and former parents and grandparents. The topics will cover a wide spectrum of interests, from our own Antiques Roadshow, panels on children’s literature, news coverage, and educational reform, and dance and improvisational comedy classes. The event includes your choice of three sessions, plus dinner. Open to the public. Ticket price TBD.