About District 142
Forest Ridge Elementary School District 142 has a long and rich history that may be traced back to its first schoolhouse built in 1863. Records show that it stood until 1880, when it was replaced by a new building, the Stone School, near the same site. This one-room schoolhouse, with eight grades, was located at 147th near Central (now 147th near Linder Avenue) and was so named because it was built of stone from Bohme’s Quarry. The Stone School was in School District #1, later renumbered to District #142.
The earliest Stone School records begin in 1915, at which time it had twenty-eight students. The district’s history indicates that many of those children walked for miles, rode mules or horses, or the train, and even lived with relatives for periods of time to be closer to school facilities.
There were 34 students, two graduates, enrolled at the Stone School in 1920. By 1924 enrollment stood at 56 students. In the late 20’s the school could no longer accommodate its increased enrollment, so a new school called Forest Ridge was constructed at 149th, east of Laramie, in 1928. This school contained four rooms; two classrooms, a stage, and an auditorium used as a gym.
With continued southwestern suburban development, total district enrollment steadily climbed, reaching approximately 100 students by the end of the 1930’s, 250 at the end of the 1940’s, and 620 students by the end of the 1950’s. Numerous additions were made to the original four-room schoolhouse. Seven rooms and a gym were added in the late 1940’s, and as population growth into the area accelerated, nine rooms were added in the 1950’s.
Considerable new residential development in the district led to the opening of Laramie School in January 1962. The school housed 12 classrooms and the enrollment was 336 students in grades 5-8. In 1967 twelve additional rooms were added.
Tower School also opened in 1964 with ten classrooms for students entering grades 1-5. It was so named because of its location near one of the two water towers serving the village. It was renamed Lee R. Foster School in 1969 in honor of the retiring Superintendent of District 142, who had held the office for 20 years.
The late 1960’s and early 1970 ushered in even faster district growth. Jack Hille School, named after Mr. Hille, who served on the District 142 board for 21 years, opened in September 1971, and was dedicated February 13, 1972.
In 1974, building additions were made to the Laramie, Lee R. Foster and Jack Hille Schools. The Laramie School addition included classrooms for Industrial Arts, Home Arts, and large group instruction, as well as a lunch/all-purpose room. A gym, including a stage, was added to the Lee R. Foster School. The Jack Hille School addition included expanding the gym, five classrooms, and a lunch/all-purpose room. Enrollment peaked at 2,665 students in September 1972. During the 1970’s, Industrial Arts and Home Arts were added to the curriculum for seventh and eighth grade students. A media center was established at the Lee R. Foster School and included the use of System 80 machines by students for individualized learning in various subject areas. Early bird screening of the 3-5 year old population was begun in March 1976, and the half-day Early Childhood Program for those with special needs was started in the district. In 1990, the name of Laramie School was changed to G. Kerkstra, in honor of the former principal, Geraldine Kerkstra.