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100 years: Century-old Ardmore keeps games alive

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014 3:30 p.m. CST
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Ardmore School first-graders gather for a class photo in 1928. (Photo provided by the Villa Park Historical Society)
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The Ardmore Junior High class of 1941 gathers for a photo in the school's gymnasium. (Photos provided by the Villa Park Historical Society)
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This east-looking view shows Ardmore School (left) in 1912. (Photos provided by the Villa Park Historical Society)
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The 1928 Ardmore School football players strap on their leather helmets for a team photo. (Photo provided by the Villa Park Historical Society)
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The 1928 Ardmore School football players line up for a team photo. (Photo provided by the Villa Park Historical Society)

VILLA PARK – There is something charming about history, believes Michele Cummins, principal at Ardmore Elementary School in Villa Park.

Portions of the building, including the administrative offices, are about 100 years old.

"We have marble windowsills and you hear the floors creaking, but we love it," said Cummins, who has been principal for 11 years and has been with School District 45 for 23 years. "There are parts of it that are endearing."

During Ardmore's centennial celebration in 2011, students learned about early 20th Century games like jacks, Tiddlywinks and hopscotch. The games provided students with an interactive way to learn about the school's history, as well as the history of Villa Park, Cummins said.

"One hundred years ago, people did not have a lot of money to be spending on games, so the kids used what was around," she said. "Students had no idea how to play these games and after, they would be playing them at recess."

The games Ardmore students researched in 2011 will be featured during Villa Park's Centennial Picnic on Aug. 8. A booth containing the old-fashioned games will be run by District 45 staff, Boy Scouts and volunteers from Willowbrook High School.

And each hour, there will be special features including a pie-eating contest, a balloon toss and a three-legged race.

Aside from games, during Ardmore's centennial in 2011, students learned about their school through the decades, and received trinkets, like yo-yos and old-fashioned candies, to provide context to their learning, Cummins said.

History of Ardmore School

Ardmore was the first school in the village of Villa Park. The four-room building was constructed in 1911. Three teachers and 57 students rounded out the initial enrollment.

By 1934, Ardmore School had become a kindergarten through eighth-grade building with an enrollment of more than 650 students.The building, which included the addition of an auditorium, served as a social center for the village.

On Halloween, most of the community gathered outside the school for a bonfire and witch burning. During winters, junior high roller skating parties were held in the gymnasium.

"It was like a community center before community centers existed," Cummins said.

Ardmore returned to being strictly an elementary school in the early 1950s following the construction of Villa Park Junior High – now know as Jackson Middle School. The village now is home to six public schools, from North Elementary to Jefferson Middle School to Willowbrook.

With the Ardmore building deemed unsafe and outdated in the 1970s, a referendum was approved to rebuild the school. The new two-story Ardmore School featured 20 new classrooms and a library resource center.

The original engraved cement "Ardmore School" inscription was implemented in the current school design.

_ _ _ _ _

Ardmore School centennial games

• Checkers

• Drop the clothes-pin in the bottle

• Duck, duck, goose

• Hopscotch

• Jacks

• Pin the tail on the donkey

• Tiddlywinks

• Spinning tops

• Yo-yos

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