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Faith, Hope and Charity, Coupled with Compulsory Education and Strict Military Discipline IS HOW THE STATE OF ILLINOIS IS RECLAIMING ITS YOUTH 

[[image]] Photo by Wallinger
Managing Officer The St. Charles School for Boys.

Prize Winning Cadets Drill Team, commanded by Colored Captain (extreme left).

As you cross the bridge over the beautiful Fox river in St. Charles, Ill., your first impression is of the luxurious sixty room, million dollar Baker Hotel, looking down in majestic splendor on the placid waters of the stream below.

Then as you turn and follow the Lincoln Highway, you will, in ten short minutes enter the portals of the most interesting school for compulsory vocational training in the United States.

The St. Charles School for Boys is maintained by the State Department of Public Welfare, under the supervision of Rodney Brandon, director of the department, and A. L. Bowen, Superintendent of Charities. Governor Louis L. Emmerson keeps in constant touch with the school's activities and sees to it that appropriations by the State are sufficient to carry on its work.

The school proper is presided over by Otto A. Elliott, the managing officer and his staff consisting of a Military Instructor and Athletic Director, a Detail officer, twenty-six house fathers and house mothers, twenty school teachers and many other instructors, in the school's vocation training department.

THE school occupies nearly 1,300 acres, about eight hundred of which are used for farming purposes. A hundred acres have been set aside for the playgrounds, campus and the central or main building unit, which comprises the manager's building, hospital, gymnasium, laundry, power-plant, vocational building and many others necessary to the maintenance of the school. A large tract is devoted to the raising of vegetables, and the remaining acreage is used as pasture for the cattle.

All food, with the exception of staples, is produced here, under skilled supervisors. One hundred and twenty-five boys do the farm work. About six hundred hogs per year are raised and enough slaughtered to provide ham, bacon and fresh pork for the dining tables. The dairy herd consists of one hundred and thirty Holstein cattle, and during the grazing season, enough milk is produced to give each  of the eight hundred boys one quart a day.

This year, five thousand gallons of tomatoes were canned and enough fresh vegetables put up to last through the winter. In 1929, 125,000 bushels of oats, barley, wheat and rye were threshed, 100 acres of corn placed in silos, and 7,500 bushels of corn stored in cribs for the winter feeding of live stock. Also, the school's orchard yields an average of 8,000 bushels of apples per year.

The normal capacity of the school is 800 boys, but in an emergency, 900 can be accommodated. They are committed to the St. Charles School from Juvenile Courts all over the State, and placed under the guardianship of the managing officer, Mr. Otto A. Elliott. They remain until twenty-one years of age or until their improved conduct warrants probation. Parents are allowed one visit every thirty days, and the boys may write home on the first and fifteenth of each month.

Strict military discipline is maintained and noticeable on all sides, the effect of which has been to develop friendly relationship and a spirit of comradeship among the boys. Jews and Gentiles, Catholic and Protestant, white and colored, they are as one big happy youthful family. They eat, play and work together, share the same dormitories and worship at the same Chapel, in absolute harmony and contentment. Many of the larger, more exclusive military schools and colleges, not excluding West Point, could well emulate the friendly spirt that dominates the St. Charles School for Boys.

It is also noteworthy that although the colored boys comprise 21 per cent of the 800 total enrollment, at least 50 per cent or half of the cadet officers are colored. The captain of the prize winning drill team this past summer was also colored; the team members were of both races.

THE St. Charles School for Boys does not seek to punish juveniles for offenses already committed, but rather to educate and provide special care and attention to mal-adjusted boys so they may become useful members of the community. They are taught the value of cleanliness, and as a result, the school building are spotless. Class rooms are thoroughly swept every day and scrubbed weekly. The smooth surfaced floors of the cottages are polished daily and dining room floors after each meal. Indeed thrifty housewives might well profit by a visit to St. Charles.

About thirty-five of the 800 boys at this school are incorrigibles, who simply will not react to humane treatment and persistently refuse to do the right thing. They are kept at hard work in the open, and under constant surveillance. In fact, hard work is the only punishment for infraction of the rules. Escapes, over a nineteen year period, averaged 162 per year, but this number has been materially reduced, so that from July 1, 1929, to July 1, 1930, only 24 escapes have been recorded. runaways are quickly apprehended and rarely are they away from the school more than a month.

When a boy under seventeen is committed to St. Charles, he goes first to the Receiving Cottage, where he is inoculated against infectious diseases, and allowed to remain under observation for two weeks. The authorities get a letter from the principal of the boy's home school as to his past record. They give him special test questions to ascertain his mental status, and have him examined by the staff psychologist to determine the cause of  his waywardness. After the two weeks' observation period, he is assigned to the work he is best fitted for. These records are all made and kept by the principal of the Receiving School, Miss Milly Patton, and Mrs. Lottie fleming, the librarian