Legacy of Lab: 125 Years

December 16, 2021

Since 1896, the Laboratory Schools have cultivated communities of scholarship, curiosity and creativity. In commemoration of  Lab’s 125th year, the Midway asked students, faculty, administration and alumni to reflect on their experiences and future community aspirations. 

Alumni of the Laboratory Schools reflect on prominent memories

“I think it goes without saying the teachers were incredible. Some of the best teachers that I’ve had in my academic experience were teachers that I had in third, fifth and I mean, high school. Needless to say, it’s actually remarkable because both of my kids go to Lab and there are teachers that are still there.”                                                       

— Chase Chavin, ‘97

 

“I will say what I tell people whenever I’m talking about Lab, and I really think that it’s so important to me, is my Lab classmates and just other Lab alumni from any year are the most interesting people that I know because of their experience at Lab where they were really taught to think critically but creatively at the same time.”                                        

— Sari Weichbrodt, ‘94

 

“I know you guys remember Secret Garden too. But it looked very different for me before they did all the renovation of Lab School. I do remember myself that it was like a really quiet little hideaway that I think a lot of us in high school, you know, could kind of go and just peacefully be.”

— Lynn Sasamoto, ‘79

 

“I didn’t like much of the art class, but there was a thing called cartooning. They actually had a unit where I spent a lot of time drawing the presidential candidates at the time, [such as] Harry Truman. He was President running against [Dwight] Eisenhower. And so I learned what the idea of cartooning was.”                            

— John Davey, ‘55

 

“We were very politically active. A number of our classmates went to Washington to petition our senators to get out of the war in Vietnam. And, you know, we were doing all sorts of things, and that is actually one of the things that I remember and am active in until this day.”                        

— Hannah Banks, ‘70

 

“We talk about learning by doing, and to learn genetics we did an experiment where we crossbred fruit flies, and I remember it was so much fun, a lot of our fruit flies actually escaped, and so the fruit flies were all throughout the classroom, but we learned so much about genetics, and I never forgot that because we ran the experiment the way we did, rather than reading about genetics.”     

   Irene Reed, ‘92     

 

“One of the things that I think I appreciated at the high school level, that I particularly appreciated once I got to college and met other kids who’d been at different high schools, was how much freedom and independence Lab high schoolers had.”

— Sarah Abella, ‘93

 

“We worked out in the field house every day in the winter, on Stagg Field in the spring. Not only was the university track team on the track at the same time, but the University of Chicago Track Club, which is a world famous track club, with Olympic runners on it. I got to share the track with Olympians and with really good college runners.”

— Marty Billingsley, ‘77

 

Current students, administration and faculty share future aspirations

“I would like, in 25 years, to see the admission process in the Laboratory Schools be need-blind. We’re not right now. We have a generous financial aid budget, but it’s not limitless. I’d love to see it be big enough to support any student who wants to be here regardless of need.” 

— Victoria Jueds, Laboratory Schools director

 

“I think for me, kind of an overarching goal is always to carefully balance that tradition with transition and change and how you honor history and tradition and also make decisions that are good for students and their families.” 

— Ana Campos, dean of students

 

“I would hope that in 25 years, we would  be  able to restructure the archiecture of our science labs. Taking into consideration how the science labs, specifically, are treated as laboratory spaces at the university level, we should really structure them so that they’re much more flexible, so we can use them in multiple formats.” 

— Daniel Bobo-Jones, science teacher

 

“I’ve seen a lot of people struggle a lot with mental health. And so you know, it’s definitely a difficult situation. I would hope that students in the next 25 years feel like they aren’t so overwhelmed, and whether that is Lab fixing that on itself or just kind of a cultural shift, I don’t know. But, you know, that’s something that I definitely would like to see.”   

 

  Will Trone, ‘22 

 

“I would hope that the school would still maintain some of its certain core values which is to be still a strong and rigorous academic institution that prepares kids well to go to strong and rigorous academic institutions for college.” 

— Jane Canright, math teacher

 

“I hope that the faculty, administration and students develop a better relationship. I feel like everyone is working hard for the betterment of Lab, it’s just that people don’t communicate at all and that’s become a really big problem. I hope we can actually fix that by the time it turns 150.” 

— Kaavya Shiram, ‘24

 

“An environment where people support each other more […] Definitely looking for things like more diversity in the administration, as well as more opportunities for students to talk to administration and really give their input and see real changes happening because of student voices.”

— Lusia Austen, ‘23

 

“Given the makeup that we are in the city, I think that the makeup that we are in our school can be a lot better. But I do appreciate that the student body is definitely much more diverse compared to other schools I’ve worked at, and I hope that we can continue that trend of the student body and the faculty as well.” 

— Sari Hernandez, English teacher

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