Joel Meyer remembers his 21 years on the Palatine Township Elementary District 15 board of education as exciting ones, filled with rapid growth and the construction of new schools.
The Rolling Meadows resident served on the board from 1957 to 1978, an era in which the district built 16 schools, including Carl Sandburg Junior High School in his hometown.
Meyer, whose name is on the original dedication plaque inside the building's entryway, was honored again Thursday as District 15 officials kicked off Sandburg's 50th anniversary by dedicating the school's learning resource center as the Meyer Media Center.
Located at the front of the building, the media center is equipped with a broadcast studio for live morning announcements, two computer labs for students and an extensive book collection.
Meyer was on hand for the dedication, along with nearly 50 former teachers and board members from District 15, including Sandburg's first principal, Joseph Kiszka, and its first gym teacher, Al Hopkins.
"It was an exciting time to be on the board," Meyer said. "We didn't have enough classrooms for children. We had to rent portable ones just to keep up."
Meyer and other district administrators spoke first to the school's nearly 600 seventh- and eighth-graders who assembled in the gym. Superintendent Scott Thompson encouraged students to make a time capsule to uncovered in another 50 years.
Eighth-graders from various language arts classrooms also presented Meyer with their thoughts on his legacy and of what Carl Sandburg Junior High had meant to them.
Samie Kramp of Hoffman Estates said it wasn't the physical things about the school that she will take with her, but the atmosphere and dedication to learning.
"Teachers accept you for who you are and where you are with your learning style," she said. "Everyone feels very safe and comfortable here."
A PowerPoint demonstration took students through the school's first 10 years, when it was Carl Sandburg School and served kindergarten through eighth grade.
"Tens of thousands of children have come through here," Thompson said, "and it's worth taking time to celebrate the impact it's had on their lives."