by Kate Rowland
Megan Tucker, a senior in Peers Reaching Out, admits that she considered telling an unwitting freshman on the first day of school that PA-101 meant Pond Access, and that one must swim through the muck and mud in order to reach his second period drama class. Though Megan resisted the temptation to introduce that particular freshman to the pond, most Maine South students never receive the opportunity to meet the on-campus body of water.
The Maine South pond is naturally fed from an underground spring, which explains why temperatures must be considerably below freezing for several days before it freezes over completely.
Surrounded by cattails, weeping willows, and other flora, the pond supports insects, geese and ducks. Bluegill, carp, and crappie are original residents of the pond, and euglenas and dinobryans are among the microscopic creatures that can be found in front of the C-Wing.
The pond has graced the Circle Drive for at least thirty years, present during the construction of the school. When Dee and Talcott still marked the Park Ridge City Dump, the pond was five smaller pools that were joined when the school was built. In the earliest architect's drafts, the pond sits on the same level as the school. As the builders got to work, however, they realized that if the school and the pond were eye-to-eye, the school would flood frequently.
In 1998, the orchestra pit in the auditorium, the lowest point in Maine South, was partially flooded by pond water during a spring thaw. The flood, which canceled Brigadoon stage crew for two days, was quickly brought under control through pumps and drains that lead to a draining spot in the Des Plaines River.
The pond has also caused other troubles. In December of 1990, Elaine Daly of Chicago was killed when her car swerved into the frigid water. Daly, who was trapped for half an hour, died of hypothermia at Lutheran General Hospital. The car was later towed out, contrary to the myth that it remains below.
Not much of interest lies on the bottom of the 10 - 12 foot pond. Several concrete slabs were never removed after being set on the floor during a reconstruction period. At least two lawnmowers have found their way to the depths in recent years. Another car, brand new and stolen, was driven into the pond, but was quickly removed.
Since 19963, the rules and safety regulations regarding the pond have changed. Fishing has been outlawed, has has goose-trapping. In addition, iron-bar fences have been added along the east bank. To prevent erosion, trees and grass were planted shortly after the school opened.
Today, biology teachers take their students to the pond for wildlife labs as well as to sample water for investigation under microscopes. Some English teachers take their students to the pond for poetic inspiration. While these expeditions are not always successful--there is at least one record of a student winding up in the pond during an outdoor science class--they do lend to the overall learning process.
Aside from being the favorite target of senior pranksters, the pond is a part of Maine South that sets it apart from other high schools. Be it a biology lesson or a freshman intimidation, at some time the pond plays a part in a student's career.