Orland School District 135 Board President Joe LaMargo reads the inscription on a historic marker documenting facts about Orland Park School. | Ginger Brashinger/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 3, 2014 6:10AM
Park School, an essential part of Orland Park’s history and a timeless building where village youngsters continue to be educated, finally got its hardware officially recognizing it as a landmark at a dedication ceremony this week.
“Today is a very special day for District 135,” Orland School District 135 Board President Joe LaMargo said. “Students, I want you to always remember today and that you were here when we celebrated your school. When you go past this building later in life, you can say, ‘I was there when they made my Orland Park School a landmark. I was part of history.’ ”
Built in 1922 to replace a one-room schoolhouse on 143rd Street, the school was given landmark status in 2008 by the village as one of 16 “contributing structures” in the Old Orland Historic District.
But it wasn’t until Thursday’s landmark dedication ceremony that the school’s historic marker, erected on the front lawn and documenting the history of the red brick building, also on 143rd Street, was unveiled to the public.
In a mid-morning ceremony under sunny skies, Park School students led staff, family, friends and former students in the Pledge of Allegiance, a patriotic song and a song of love for the school — which prompted Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin to say, “I love Park School, too.”
A rock garden decorated by first- and second-graders was created at the front of the school, each stone representing a decade of Park School’s existence. Smaller decorated rocks were offered as mementos to former students.
“We have generations of families who come here,” Park School Principal Susan Kuligoski said. She said former students are continually returning to see the building and to get contact information about former teachers.
“It’s a family,” Kuligoski said. “There’s no other building like Park School.”
The familiar structure in the historic district was built by Alfred F. Pashley in the Prairie style with Georgian Revival features. The adjacent gymnasium, built in the same style, was constructed with Joliet limestone.
Marilyn (Ashum) Sinclair, a 1958 graduate of Park School, said when she walked into the gymnasium, the smell of limestone was exactly as she remembered it from her childhood.
Sinclair and her nephew Mark Ashum, who also attended the ceremony, represented two generations of students who attended Park School.
Muriel Ballou, a 1963 graduate who still lives in Orland Park, also was a second-generation Park School student.
“I remember roller skating in the gym,” Ballou said, calling it her favorite school memory. “When my mom went to high school here, she said they also roller skated.”
Park School was the village’s high school until 1954, when the last class graduated and Sandburg High School opened.
McLaughlin said Park School and other village landmarks may get even more attention in the future.
“Eventually, we’re going to try to tie (the landmarks) all together with a walking path,” McLaughlin said.