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Preschool stu­dents play games with a college vol­unteer at Mary Randall.
Sonja Bindus | Courtesy

 

Mary Randall Preschool cel­e­brated its 50th anniversary in October and will be cel­e­brating it again with a reception after its annual Christmas program on Dec. 8.

“We’re inviting all of [the Women’s Com­mis­sioners] to come back,” Sonja Bindus, Director of Mary Randall Preschool said. “We’re just going to have this Christmas cel­e­bration-slash-50th anniversary.”

The school has been a staple in edu­cating not only children of Hillsdale but also many college stu­dents for 50 years. It started in the basement of Mauck Hall in 1929 under the name Hillsdale College Nursery School. Founded by the college at the request of one of the college’s psy­chology pro­fessors and with the aid of the Women Com­mis­sioners, it was created to be a lab school where college stu­dents could observe child devel­opment in a natural setting. The school moved to its current building in 1967 and was renamed Mary Randall Preschool after the building project’s largest donor and Hillsdale College alumna Mary Proctor Randall, according to former Mary Randall preschool student Kathy Connor, who is also the retired director of the same preschool she attended.

Connor was a student there during its days in the Mauck basement. She remembers the impact the college stu­dents made on the learning envi­ronment when she was a child.

“The kids would always know when the stu­dents were coming, who their favorites were. The little boys couldn’t wait for the football players to get there,” Connor said. The college stu­dents also helped improve the preschool’s facil­ities. “They ren­o­vated the basement by making a new class — Main­te­nance and Play­ground Planning,” Connor said.

The inter­action between the college stu­dents and the preschoolers has con­tinued to play a key role. Hillsdale College senior Andrew Wilcox attended Mary Randall as a child and has vol­un­teered there since his sophomore year of college.

“When it comes to vol­un­teers helping out, I think a lot of other preschools may only have one or two extra aids,” Wilcox said. “With Mary Randall, it’s awesome that it’s here on campus. We have at least five or six vol­un­teers at all times throughout the day. That extra help with the teachers, through the vol­un­teers, is a huge part of the success of running a preschool.”

Since its founding, the psy­chology department at Hillsdale College has con­tinued to conduct research in the lab school it founded.

“The preschool has been very sup­portive of the psy­chology faculty and stu­dents through the years,” wrote Kari McArthur, asso­ciate pro­fessor of psy­chology, in an email. “I often have Intro­duction to Psy­chology stu­dents conduct demon­stra­tions of Piagetian con­cepts with the preschoolers,” she said.

There will be a reception on Friday at Mary Randall after the Christmas program to cel­e­brate the 50th anniversary.