A History of LFCDS


Lake Forest Country Day School was incorporated in May 1958 as a result of the consolidation of the Bell School (originally named the Alcott School) and the Lake Forest Day School. However, its roots go back to 1888 with the founding of the Alcott School, named in memory of “the children’s friend,” Louisa May Alcott and her father, Bronson Alcott, who founded the first private day school in America.

In 1904, Allen Chartis Bell came to substitute at the Alcott School, whose brochure in 1909 declared that “the entire curriculum is arranged to make moral character efficient through mental discipline.” Not long after Mr. Bell arrived, the school’s trustees asked him to become the principal, thus beginning a 50-year career at the school. The Alcott School and Mr. Bell became so closely identified that people began to refer to the school as the Bell School. In 1934, when the Bell’s oldest son came to teach at the school, the name change from the Alcott School to the Bell School became official.

Six years earlier, in 1928, a new school had opened its doors in Lake Forest. Founded with the intention of providing a progressive education, the principle goals of the Lake Forest Day School were “the development of character, the impairing of knowledge, and the development of resourcefulness.” Furthermore, there was to be an emphasis on the “fundamental importance of parent cooperation.”

Just as the Bell School progressed during the 1930s and ‘40s supported by its philosophy of providing a rigorous and fundamental education for its students, the Day School also enjoyed great prosperity. The first mention of a merger between the Bell and Day Schools was made at this time, but was not seriously pursued for another two decades when in May 1958, a plan of consolidation was approved with the current name, Lake Forest Country Day School. Appleton Mason, Headmaster of the Bell School since 1955, became Headmaster of the newly formed Lake Forest Country Day School, and sensitively blended the two schools, its trustees, students, parents and faculty.

Both the Bell and Day Schools had always been family and community schools, welcoming students of varying abilities and building upon a tradition of parent participation, which continues to touch every aspect of Lake Forest Country Day School today.

Lake Forest Country Day School has flourished since the consolidation of the Bell School and Lake Forest Day School, and the strengths of both schools are reflected in the School’s Mission Statement: Inspired teaching, academic rigor, attention to individual needs, a commitment to responsible citizenship—these principles infuse every aspect of life at Lake Forest Country Day School and define our dedication to producing students of strong character with a passion for learning.

A co-educational independent private school for students age 2 through Grade 8.
Graduating students of strong character with a passion for learning since 1888.
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