The footage is amazing because some of it has never before been seen by the public.

The magnificent engines of the Saturn V rocket fired with latent, unleashed power necessary to propel the men into space.

Rows and rows of white-shirted men monitored their analog screens with manuals perched on the tables in front of them.

Thousands of people came to Cape Canaveral to see the lift off, camping out in their cars and tents or simply sleeping in a sleeping bag on the beach. There was the occasional glimpse of celebrities, people like Johnny Carson and Lyndon Johnson, who wanted to be a part of it too.

There are periodic mentions of the heart rates of the astronauts. During the launch, Armstrong’s rate was reported at 110, Collin’s around 95 and Aldrin’s, shockingly low, near 88.

The moments as the lunar module descended foot by foot to the moon are captured, and the tautness of the unknown is palpable.

The director’s dual screen uniquely captured the camera footage, on both the lunar module and the command module, as they slowly, carefully docked in their tense rendezvous after the moon landing.

The welcome home parade, set against the backdrop of beautiful, sunny Chicago, is featured prominently, with wildly cheering people and Secret Service agents running alongside the astronauts’ convertibles.

The colors are sometimes startling. The bright summer clothes worn by the people on the beaches. The oranges and reds of the rocket as it fired. The bright, kapton foil on the lunar module, in contrast to the dull color of the moon. The heat shield of the command module as it moved through the earth’s atmosphere. The beautiful parachutes lowering the space capsule into the ocean. And, of course, the swirling whites, greens and blues of planet earth as seen from space.

The sheer science of it all is breathtaking. And the geometry. Wow, the geometry. The math that was required to get the three astronauts to the moon and back is especially noteworthy, give the small margin for error–and the fact that all of it was done without calculators.

And, lastly, there is the utter calm and professionalism of the three astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins as they go about their duties, interjecting occasional humor when time allowed.

Apollo 11, the newly released documentary directed by Todd Douglas Miller, tracks the mission to the moon in 1969. The world watched in suspense as the rocket finally took off and began the many maneuvers required to get the astronauts to the moon and back. During the eight day voyage that began on July 16 we, on earth, ate, slept, went to work, and enjoyed our summer.

But we were attuned. To both the tenseness of the situation and to our radios and televisions that tracked the steady progress of the journey. When it was over, and the astronauts were back on planet earth, there was relief, there was sheer joy and there was overwhelming pride. The three astronauts had most assuredly reserved their place in history as the heroes we revere today.

The people of Schaumburg Township, though, paid their respects in a way that is evident nowhere else in the country. In 1971, as a result of the area’s furious growth, Schaumburg Community Consolidated School District 54 opened four elementary schools, naming three of them in honor of Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins.

All four schools built that year–including Dirksen–are identical, as you can tell in the photos below.

If you look closely enough at the sign for Aldrin School, you can see that the mascot is the eagle. This is a direct reference to the Lunar Module that landed on the moon and was named the “Eagle.” It was–uncoincidentally–piloted by Buzz Aldrin.

On Armstrong School is their mascot of an astronaut, which requires little explanation!

Below is Collins School, named for the command module pilot who orbited the moon while Armstrong and Aldrin took those giant leaps for mankind.


Scattered throughout the district, these schools are a steady, gentle reminder of a  stunning voyage that happened 50 years ago this summer. The astronauts gave the best parts of themselves on that trip.  Two years later, Schaumburg Township returned the favor and thanked them in the best way they knew how.

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library



  1. Karen Pfeiffer Says:

    This is a wonderful reminder for us older folks. I love the information on the schools and their mascots. Thank you.
    Karen Pfeiffer

  2. Dan Says:

    Were all D54 schools done by the same architect? I would assume that to be the case for these 4 that are identical, but they are very similar to other ones such as Jane Addams or the 2 story addition to Campanelli.

    • jrozek Says:

      Hello Dan,

      Yes, a number of the schools were designed by the same architectural firm. For instance, S. Guy Fishman designed Collins, Armstrong, Aldrin and Dirksen. Two years later, in 1973, they also designed the newly-opened Adolph Link Elementary School.

      Much of it depended on the time period and the construction company. For instance, Blackhawk School, the most unique school in the district, was designed by Fridstein & Fitch. They were commissioned by F & S Construction who were the developers of early Hoffman Estates.

      On the other hand, Campanelli School, which opened in 1961, was designed by A.J. Del Blanco. While we would think, like F & S Construction who donated multiple schools to the district, that Campanelli Brothers built the school, the construction company that was awarded the project was W.F. Fitzsimmons & Co.

      Three years later when Hanover Highlands opened in 1964, we note that it was designed by Harry P. Shaxted of A.I.A. of Lincolnwood.

      These decisions definitely seemed to be a matter of timing and procedure within the school district.

      Jane Rozek
      Local History Librarian
      Schaumburg Township District Library

      • Dan Says:

        Thanks Jane. This is most interesting. My understanding is A.J. Del Blanco also designed Weathersfield Commons. I would also have to assume he was the architect of most if not all of the Weathersfield homes.

        I know I have read before the Campanelli School was the only one designed, built and donated by Campanelli Brothers but that isn’t the case? Regardless, it would be interesting to have an article on Campanelli School, if for nothing else learning when all the pieces were put on.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: