About Us : History

School Timeline

The School began on the shores of Long Lake, Michigan, on Memorial Day, 1913. Somewhat earlier, two exceptional men had met and recognized their mutual desire to help some of the many half-orphaned boys roaming around the stockyards of Chicago. Out of this desire, Morris Schwabacher and V.P. Randall founded Chicago Junior School, in the company of a tent, and a superabundant wilderness.

The School was originally an active farm. This helped to instill in the students many life and work values that came to characterize Chicago Junior Schools unique program. On Memorial Day, 1923, CJS moved to its present location in Elgin. The new property was also a working farm, as still evidenced by the silo in the middle of campus.

  • 1913-1923: The school gradually grew to 50 students: After leaving the first campus in the wilds of northern Michigan, the second campus was an operating farm outside St. Joseph, Michigan only 75 miles from Chicago. During its last few years in Michigan, Superintendent Harold Molter made an indelible stamp on the school and remained a valuable friend for many years.
  • 1923: A Chicago campus became a reality as the school moved to a 100-acre working farm in Elgin, IL. The farm buildings east of the little-used gravel road dividing the two segments of the property, became the classrooms and staff residences, while the 60 wooded acres descending to the Fox River became the new campus. A new brick dormitory, Hoxie House, was built immediately and provided living space for 40 boys, including a dining room and kitchen. The completion of the Frank Lloyd Wright style school building in 1929 cemented the permanence of CJS and focused the campus to the west side of the road. Summer camp was an integral part of the educational program, often with higher enrollments than during the school year. As with the school, summer campers participated in the study of the Bible lesson and their own Sunday School.
  • 1933-1955: Superintendent George Kilburn took a financially struggling school during the Depression to new heights:
    • Friends Groups were organized into successful fund raising organizations.
    • Extra-curricular activities permanently changed from agriculture to athletics.
    • A major building program was initiated resulting in the construction of the Dining Hall, Bates Field House, Allison House,the first girls dorm, Kilburn Hall, and the planning of Katzenberger gymnasium.
    • Girls were added as boarding students in 1955
  • 1956-1962: Mr. William F. Holford, Jr. came to CJS as Head of School with his four daughters, wife and parents, further fostering the strong sense of family at the school. The Helen Katzenberger Pool was built in 1958 and the Walter Katzenberger Gymnasium opened in 1961.
  • 1962-1976: Mr. Charles (Bud) R. Trick took over as Head of School. He installed the first House Parents in Cox Cottage. In 1965 Molter House, the Headmasters residence, was built as was a new dorm (now named Westview) in 1969. Camp Junior became Camp Wa-ta-ga-mie. CJS was now home for approximately 90 students and the camp program served 75 children each summer.
  • 1976-1980: Mrs. Phyllis R. Smith became Head at CJS. She instituted the Early Education Program. Emphasis on the boarding program decreased and space in Hoxie was converted for the preschool. Spanish classes were added to the academic program. CJS received its first accreditation from ISACS (Independent School Association of the Central States). A formal character building program using Agnes Boysens book First Things First was adopted in 1978 and regular assemblies focused on these qualities.
  • 1980-1989: As Head of School, Dr. Andrew Sim focused on revising and updating the CJS curriculum. Camp Wa-ta-ga-mie now included major off-site trips and a Leadership Training Program. The First Things First program grew into a program of Character Building Qualities (CBQs). The Extended Care Program began for children in first through eighth grades.
  • 1989-1992: Mr. Bradwell Scott was Head of School. Under his direction, Preschool became a permanent fixture in Hoxie House. There was a renewed focus on the Boarding Program, and the first computer lab was established. Summer overnight camp was discontinued.
  • 1992: Mr. Robert Seymour was appointed interim Head of School. He successfully shepherded a third accreditation from ISACS.
  • 1992- 2002: Dr. William Haak took over as Head of School and converted Allison House and Kilburn Hall into additional classroom space. The Administration Building was networked for computers and internet access. A new summer program began. A fourth ISACS accreditation was achieved.
  • 2002-2003: Mr. Philip Calkins, former Board Chair and current Business Manager, served as Interim Head of School.
  • 2003-2007: Mr. John Friborg is named Head of School. The Board adopts a new name for the School in order to better reflect what the school is and where it is located. A major review and updating of curriculum and instruction commences under the leadership of new Assistant Head, Karen Morse. A major capital campaign, An Agenda for New Beginnings is successfully launched. New Early Education/Lower School building constructed. Several buildings repurposed, including Cox Cottage from a dorm to middle school classrooms. Campus technology network completed with all staff email and internet capabilities. Land stewardship program begun.
  • 2007-2008: Mrs. Karen Morse serves as Interim Head of School.
  • 2008-Present: Mrs. Karen Morse serves as Head of School.

Spiritual Heritage

Intellectual freedom and religious tolerance define any vital and diverse academic community. Fox River Country Day School is rooted in the Christian traditions of Christian Science. While it is essential to understand that the School is not affiliated with or supported by the Christian Science Church and to make clear that Christian Science is not part of the curriculum, it is also important to recognize the schools heritage and understand that the Schools educational philosophy continues to reflect Christian Science ideals in central ways:

  • A fundamental belief in the goodness of all, as children of one universal God.
  • An underlying belief in the right and capacity of all students, faculty, and staff to achieve their full potential.
  • The awareness that as a childs spiritual nature is honored, the learning process is less burdened and more joyful.
  • The commitment to minimize fear, self-doubt, pressure, and comparisons in the learning environment maximizes confidence, exploration, discovery, and expression.
  • The underlying premise that when talented faculty members love children, the classroom environment is at its best.

Our school, like many others, began with people who had a vision based on their deepest spiritual convictions. Early support for the school came and continues to come -- from individual and groups of Christian Scientists dedicated to promoting and financially supporting a school which helps children grow in a loving environment that nurtures the development of character as well as academic achievement. Today, the school continues to share practical expressions of its foundation through high personal academic standards, an expectation of high moral and ethical practice, and a commitment to community values and service.

While honoring spirituality, the School does not attempt to influence the members of the community (students, parents, faculty, or staff) regarding their religious ideas or health care. Parents alone determine a childs religious beliefs and how a childs health needs are addressed. In the event of accident or illness, school staff administers first aid and provides further attention consistent with parental instructions, including calling the childs physician or 911 in an emergency.

Our hiring and enrollment policies embrace and express diversity in all respects. A variety of religious backgrounds is represented among enrolled families, faculty, and staff. As provided by the Schools by-laws, all members of the Board of Trustees and the Head of School are Christian Scientists, drawing their vision and values from the Judeo-Christian heritage including the Bible, the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, the Golden Rule, and the writings of the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy.


1600 Dundee Ave. | Elgin, IL 60120 | phone: 847-888-7910 | email: info@frcds.org