Thirty years from now what will our kids and grandkids remember about this historic return to school?

The History Center and the Lake Forest School District are launching Facing School 2020 to preserve back-to-school memories in real-time. This new digital exhibit gives students, teachers and parents from schools across the community a central place to share their experiences, find encouragement, and access their stories about back-to-school 2020 for years to come.

Q & A with Carol Summerfield, History Center Executive Director and Melissa Oakley, Chief Communications Officer Lake Forest Schools:

Carol Summerfield

What makes Facing School 2020 unique?

CAROL: We’ve become quite adept at quickly developing digital exhibits to make sure our community stays connected to history and shared experiences. We’re particularly excited about this new one, which helps us build a historical archive, directed by our curator Laurie Stein. The site is easy to use and gives users a place where they can share their stories and browse personal stories from students, parents and teachers, as well as news and information from the school and from media sources. We’re anticipating a vibrant living archive that will be used by historians for generations to come. The History Center serves as the exhibit administrator, ensuring that the content is appropriate and safeguarded against any risks to students.

So, what can people submit? 

CAROL: The exhibit can handle a variety of content from photos and short videos, to artwork and journal entries. The platform, designed by PassitDown, is easy to navigate. Entering your information only takes about 3 minutes! 

Melissa Oakley

What's the deadline for providing content?

MELISSA: We plan to promote Facing School through the end of the year. As we feature more of the content on social media, we hope more people will be inspired to participate. It's crowdsourcing and it really works in creating excitement around an initiative that matters. We'd love to have all of the schools in Lake Forest and Lake Bluff participate. While the promotion may end at the end of the year, the archive will remain online long after and content can always be added.

Why does this matter?

MELISSA: This is an historic moment for our school community. Our students, families, teachers, and staff are making history as they navigate learning during this pandemic. We hope anyone Facing School right now will join in sharing their unique experiences through pictures, videos, poetry, reflections— anything they have created that captures how they are feeling during this historic time.

View the Facing School 2020 exhibit platform here.


Upcoming Events:

Modern in the Middle: Chicago Houses 1929-1975 | October 1 @ 7pm

This new book by Susan Benjamin and Michelangelo Sabatino explores the substantial yet overlooked role that Chicago and its suburbs played in the development of the modern single-family house in the twentieth century.

Join us via Zoom as Susan takes us into the world of midcentury design and discusses the houses and the architects that defined the style.


Four spots still available!

Don't miss this popular tour led by docent Katie Hale at 10:30 am this Saturday! Along with an overview of the history of Lasker’s Mill Road Farm, the tour will cover the story of Albert Lasker and the 13 David Adler-designed farm buildings all now private residences. Expect to walk two miles over a period of about 1.5-2 hours. The tour will take place light rain or shine.

Interested in booking a private walking tour?

We're offering private, docent-led tours that can be scheduled for a day and time of your choosing. Please contact Alex Schneider at to inquire.


Join us for more Thursday Tours and Programs

We're putting together a great roster of programs for October and November and hope you'll join us. Please visit our website for a complete listing.

Fly Girls: The Women Air Force Service Pilots of WWII

A personal story by community contributor Ann Jones. 

10/15 @ 7PM

Lake Forest Cemetery Tour

An historical and architectural walking tour on 25 acres of idyllic scenery led by popular docent Tina Strauss. Only a few spots left!

10/15 @ 10:30am

Edith: The Rogue Rockefeller McCormick 

Author Andrea Friederici Ross and historical performer Ellie Carlson bring Edith to life for this very special virtual program about one of Lake Forest's most dynamic individuals.

11/5 @ 7PM


From the Archives: 


#100YearsAgoToday With the end of September the exodus of Lake Foresters to the city began, as many began to relocate their households to Chicago for the fall and winter. This was even more common among the younger set who often leased a place in Lake Forest for the summer.

(The “Lares and Penates” referenced in the Tribune article were groups of deities that Romans once worshiped at household shrines as guardians of family and home - the phrase was often used to indicate household possessions.)



#SchoolDaysPast Lake Forest High School, a Works Progress Administration project, opened its doors in 1935. The school was designed by Anderson and Ticknor in the Georgian Colonial style in order to blend with surrounding architecture.


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