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Certainly, the alumni driving by couldn’t help but look as the building gave way. Many others avoided driving anywhere close to the demolition site not wanting to see the Lab School’s final days. For over half a century, it had been such a magnificent structure... but the world was changing. The battle to save PLS had been lost and now the building was being torn down.

Sadly, the Lab School was becoming just bricks on the ground. Most of the bricks stayed grouped together … held in place with mortar even as they fell to the ground as rubble. It occurred to some, as they viewed the demolition from the street, that the building’s valiant struggle against destruction was being bolstered by what the building had spiritually represented to its many graduates. The strong bonds that had been built between students, the many, many classes that had lived and prospered within its sturdy walls had created a family of brothers and sisters (and sometimes distant cousins), but a “family” distinct from other schools. These relationships, would easily last a lifetime. But, it was time for the old building to give way.

How could I ever replace walking through its hallways? It was a mental journey back in time with such wonderful physical prompts, …my locker, Miss Struble’s classroom and her box of Russell Stover birthday chocolates, the science lab and its strange smells that never changed over the decades, the music room, the library, the cafeteria and its own version of ambrosia, and the auditorium with its memories of the performances in Thornton Wilder’s, Our Town. The basement was where many of us learned to dance at lunch break. On this tour back in time, I have to stop at “The Office.” Many of my valuable lessons were unfortunately learned here, as well. This is the building in which lives were put in motion; integrity was built, minds were developed, careers started and first loves were found.

This building housed an unusual culture. But it, of course, was not the building that created the culture! It was the teachers who taught here. “Teachers”…such an incomplete description of these gods of learning and caring that taught at PLS: Struble, Vander Beek, Hale, Reichmann, Tarr, Nielsen, Scoval, Aldrich, Butzier, Happ and on and on. They were succeeded one by one…the faculty culture never changing. This faculty instilled the value of achievement and the faculty mandate was always the same… to unselfishly rear their PLS children. These individuals definitely were not only our teachers, they were our mentors, our guides, our confidants and when we graduated, our role models, our heroes, our friends.

The faint imprint of the panther paw over the main entrance, its origin only known by a few, is gone now. And so what remains? Like the strong mortar between its bricks, the love that was created within the walls of PLS will live on between us. We will always be in some real sense the children of this faculty and the brothers and sisters of the Malcolm Price Lab School.


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