Fifty years ago, Darien didn't exist yet.
Fifty years ago, the parents of most of today's Lace School students hadn't been born yet.
Fifty years ago, District 61 finished the last touches on an addition that would make Lace School what it is today.
For the past two weeks, the students at Lace School have been commemorating that anniversary with a series of events that will culminate May 15 when the kids bury a time capsule to be unearthed in another 50 years.
Lace School as an institution has been around much longer. The very first Lace School was built in the late 1960s. Old Lace School, which today houses the Darien Historical Society Museum, replaced the original school after it burned down in 1924.
District 61 built the present Lace School in 1957. With the construction of the 1961 addition, Lace became the building so many students have passed through and cherished during the past five decades.
To get a feel for what life has been like for students throughout Lace’s history, the kids are getting a crash course on the past 50 years through a decades unit. Teachers are highlighting important events and cultural milestones from the 1960s to today.
“It’s generating so much excitement,” Lace Principal Marty Casey said. “When the teachers talk about the clothing and hair, they can relate right to it, and the kids sense that.”
The lessons have also sparked conversations at home, Casey said. One mother emailed him to share her child’s enthusiasm for the unit. The mom said they’re having a great time as a family sitting around the kitchen table and talking about the past.
The decades unit will culminate Friday when students pick a favorite time period and dress in costume from that era. All week they’ve been adorning their classroom doors for the Dec-a-Door decorating contest, which staff will judge Friday as well.
This year’s Lace students cemented their legacy by raising $1,100 through sticker sales to purchase a giant fiberglass bulldog mascot. The massive bulldog, created by the same group that made Chicago’s famous Cows on Parade, will greet students each day as they enter the school.
Former Eisenhower Junior High teacher and counselor Grant Evensen, who’s also an artist, painted the bulldog in a Lace jersey.
“Now I’m a specialist in painting giant bulldogs, if anyone wants to hire me for that,” Evensen joked.
Students are also looking to the future by writing papers about what they think life will be like 50 years from now. The papers, along with present-day artifacts such as newspapers, a copy of The Hunger Games and a Kindle that doesn’t work anymore, will be placed in a 110-quart plastic container. A city backhoe will dig a hole May 15 in which the capsule will rest for the next five decades.
On June 1, 2062, the students will return to Lace as the time capsule emerges from its underground home.
“The students have a lot of pride in 50 years of their school, and now they’re intertwined with that,” Casey said.