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Elizabeth White Parks

IVCC (L-P-O Junior College) Newspaper Founder

By Rose Marie Lynch

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She was a founder and the first national president of Quill and Scroll, and after she took a teaching job at LaSalle-Peru High School and IVCC’s predecessor, LaSalle-Peru-Oglesby Junior College, she established the first school newspaper there.

The newspaper was the Hi-Co Scanner. The year was 1933. She was Elizabeth White Parks, later Elizabeth Dixon.

In 1926 at the University of Iowa, Elizabeth White was part of a group of high school publications advisers who organized Quill and Scroll, an organization that recognizes student achievement in journalism and today has chapters at more than 13,600 high schools in all 50 states and 41 foreign countries.

While details about her background are sketchy, L-P yearbooks reveal that she earned an M.A. in English and journalism from the University of Iowa, so it is possible that she was studying towards her M.A. when Quill and Scroll was founded. She completed her M.A. in 1931 in journalism and mass communication. A native of Coulterville, she had a B.A. from Monmouth College in Monmouth, Ill.

In 1927, the Quill and Scroll magazine published an article she wrote suggesting that high schools publish student handbooks. The article identifies her only by name, still her maiden name of White, and does not say where she was at the time.

From 1933 to 1943, she taught journalism and English at L-P and L-P-O J.C, according to yearbook records, under what was apparently her married name of Parks. She also served as advisor to the yearbook, called the Ell Ess Pe, the Press Club, a student handbook, the local chapter of Quill and Scroll and a series of newspapers.

It’s likely that she had some teaching-advising experience before coming to L-P since the first managing editor of the first L-P/L-P-O newspaper said, "We feel we are fortunate in having so experienced and patient an adviser as Elizabeth White Parks," in announcing the founding of the Scanner.

That newspaper, a bi-weekly named Hi-Co since it included both the high school and community college, was published from 1933 through 1935, and it established a tradition of excellence.

For its first semester issues, the Scanner received a First Class Honor Rating from the National Scholastic Press Association, and in 1935 the Scanner was awarded a second place by the Illinois College Press Association.

The typically four-page issues included book reviews, magazine articles recommended for reading, and editorials on school, state and national issues. Readers were teased into stories by such headlines as

* "Confidential Information Concerning Faculty Vacations Made Public,"

* "L-P-O Loses Weird Game to DeKalb B,"

* "Illegitimate Child of Journalism Traced in Ancestry of Scanner,"

* "Margaret Woods’ Hygiene Lecture Tells Life Facts."

Advertisements pitched the school cafeteria: hamburgers and hot dogs "prepared just right for 5 cents."

Ads and numerous stories also pitched Scanner subscriptions, 5 cents an issue, and tried to discourage students from reading someone else’s copy. Financial problems may have led to the newspaper’s demise since the last Scanner was published in May 1935, and no newspaper was published by the high school or junior college again until 1938.

In 1938, Parks started a second newspaper, this time just for the junior college, entitled the L-P-O Echo. That newspaper lasted through 1941 when Parks, and the Publications Board on which she served, combined the high school and junior college newspapers and adopted the name of Hi-Co Courier. The Courier only lasted one year, probably a victim of World War II.

By 1943 Parks was apparently not on the L-P/L-P-O staff; her name had disappeared from L-P yearbooks.

Even less is known about Parks’ personal life. Yearbooks list her hobbies as collecting old magazines, and English and American fashion plates. News stories report that she won first prize in bridge at the Marissa Country Club, and the pet phrase she used in classes was, "It was revealed...."

In May 1942, at the end of her last year at L-P/L-P-O, she had an emergency appendectomy at People’s Hospital, now known as IVCH, in Peru.

The only mention of her after that time is in a 1951 El Ess Pe in a story about the L-P Quill and Scroll chapter being reorganized after an absence of several years. Parks, invited back because of her history with the national organization, conducted the initiation ceremony.

The University of Iowa Alumni Records Office reported that she was Elizabeth Dixon when she died, sometime prior to 1970, in Lebanon, Ill.

(Anyone with additional information about Elizabeth White Parks should contact IV LEADER advisor Lori Cinotte at lori_cinotte@ivcc.edu)


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