Carole Lemen, a Community School teacher for more than 40 years, reads with students.


Head of school Matthew Gould says the real magic of Community School is right in its name. “We provide a nurturing community for kids, where their personal development, confidence and poise, and ability to interact positively in a social environment, are supported.” The Ladue elementary school is celebrating a century of serving thousands of students with a rigorous academic approach, an emphasis on the arts, and a supportive social environment. Highlighting the year-long festivities will be visiting alumni, a black-tie gala and the construction of a new Centennial Arts Center.

Among the 100 alums visiting the school this year will be Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jane Smiley (’61) and world-renowned jazz musician Peter Martin (’82). Graduates are connecting with students in small groups, speaking about their careers, as well as what Community was like when they attended.

A gala to mark the school’s centennial will be held at the Four Seasons Hotel downtown on April 5. The evening will spotlight alumni, including Steve Maritz, and benefit the school’s endowment. Two additional celebrations, for students on April 4, and teachers and alumni on April 5, also will be held.

As the school’s staff and students look back at its success, it also is looking forward to flourishing into the future. To that end, the new Centennial Art Center, an 11,000-square-foot addition to the school, is under construction. The facility will feature a multi-use theater and an art room, music room and band room, as well as spaces for technology, reading and math groups and after-school programs.

Gould is proud to continue the school’s targeted approach to teaching academics and the arts. And that approach is yielding positive results. Among independent schools across the nation, Community students test in the top 5 percent in math and quantitative reasoning, verbal ability and reading comprehension and mechanics, Gould notes. With a student-teacher ratio of seven-to-one, Community has the most individualized learning among area elementary schools, he adds. “We care a great deal about providing a targeted instructional approach to make sure we are meeting students’ needs across the board,” he explains. “It’s a real gift to the kids because they get that individualized support, especially at those young ages when their skills are just emerging.”

And while the times may change, Gould says the school’s commitment to students remains the same. So, here’s to Community’s first 100 years, and many more.

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