Gazette Article by: Peg Hoskin, Ed.D.
Appeared in the Gazette: Spring 1998
The Carleton W. Washburne School was completed in 1969. At a ceremony on October 12th of that year, former school superintendent, Sidney P. Marland, Jr., dedicated the building to the memory of his colleague and friend, Carleton W. Washburne (1889–1968). Marland presented the Washburne family with a plaque that was mounted on the front of the school, honoring the person who made educational history in Winnetka and the world.
The architectural firm of Perkins & Will designed the modern style building “. . . to maintain the scale and spirit of the surrounding neighborhood,” according to the firm’s brochure.
Recognizing the need for space that could change as needs changed, the architects designed academic units that would provide flexibility in two ways. Folding walls could be opened and closed on a day-to-day basis to create a variety of classroom sizes; and most existing interior walls were non-loadbearing partitions that could be moved if substantial changes in school programs occurred in the future.
Washburne School was to house six hundred seventh and eighth graders and form part of a campus with The Skokie School for fifth and sixth graders. Designed as a junior high school, the north and south academic wings embraced outdoor courtyards to provide light, views, close contact with the natural environment, and outdoor spaces for educational and social activities. Each wing served one grade level where students were taught math, science, English, and social studies. In the center of the building, the “hub,” students were taught electives (today, Related Studies courses)—theater, art, shop, typing, home economics, music, special education, and physical education. The hub also contained a print shop, television studio, and library. (The cafeteria and school district offices were added several years later.)
By 1986, the school’s layout had been reshaped by a middle school philosophy, a child-centered approach to education that meets the needs of 10 to 14 year olds and complements the progressivism of the Washburne legacy. Currently, sixth, seventh, and eighth graders are interspersed throughout the building, students and teachers arranged in interdisciplinary teams with an advisor-advisee program.
Today, print shop and typing have given way to computers, and progress in technology has advanced the look of the television studio and library. The Related Studies curriculum has expanded in the hub, responsive to educational research and advancements.
Computers, TVs/VCRs, and intercoms are in almost every classroom, together with other specialized materials and equipment that help support the curricula.
Support services for students, such as special education, reading, ESL, speech/language, health services, and social work, have greatly expanded from the two 9’ x 10’ rooms originally allotted for special needs in 1969. Physical education now includes not only individual and team sports, but fitness, wellness, and nutrition curricula.
Almost 30 years after its dedication, Carleton W. Washburne School continues to evolve. Each change adds to Winnetka’s long tradition of educational excellence and significant school architecture.