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My Years at Price Lab

Posted By: Cathy Henry Toohey

A Price Lab Family from 1946 to 1980

I come from a family of 6 children and for 34 years - from 1946 until 1980, one or more of us were students at Price Laboratory School. My oldest brother Mike Henry started school on the hill in 1946 and graduated in 1962 - two years before my youngest sister, Andrea was even born! Mike graduated from TCHS, while my older sister, Robyn and brother, Jim graduated from SCHS. The rest of us graduated from NUHS, but I will always remember “our school” as Price Lab. In fact, my parents moved our family to 19th Street in 1965 just to ensure that all of us could continue to attend and graduate from the school they felt was best.

I will never forget my early years in nursery school and kindergarten at Price Lab. My older sister, Robyn, was a cheerleader and active in drama, so I knew all the cheers. In 1962, Robyn was in “Annie Get Your Gun” and taught me all of the verses to the song, “You Can’t Get A Man With A Gun”. I was in Kindergarten that year and we often had university students come to observe the class. One day, Miss Roth asked if any students had anything to show and tell for the university students. I raised my hand and proceeded to sing the entire song for them -which took about 5 minutes. Miss Roth told my mother she kept trying to get me to stop but I was determined to sing every verse I had learned. That nurturing environment for students was not the exception – it was the rule at Price Lab.

During the summer after 3rd grade, I was asked to be one of the children in the SCHS summer theater production of "The Sound of Music". That was the beginning of being involved in one of the most outstanding school musical theater production teams ever; Les Hale and Ken Butzier. The magic these two could create out of the raw talent at our school was nothing short of amazing! I will never forget NU’s production of "Fiddler on the Roof" in 1973 – just a year after the movie of the musical was released. The theater critic for the Waterloo Courier actually stated that she preferred our own Chris O’Connor’s performance as Tevye to movie actor, Topol, who was nominated for an Academy Award for the role. That was a prime example of what happens when a group of talented and creative educators are given the resources and permission to cultivate and nurture their student’s talents rather than teach to a standardized test.

I have gone on to become an educator myself, teaching middle school for 10 years and as a campus administrator for 8. In my years in education, I have never been involved with a school that compared to Price Lab. That sense of belonging seems to be harder and harder to achieve these days with bigger schools and less continuity. And the synergy among staff and students that existed in those hallowed halls was nothing short of spectacular in my opinion. I know without a doubt that the education I received at Price Lab was exemplary and it has prepared me to be successful in life. In addition to Les and Ken, I will never forget Marshall Schools, Mardell Mohn, Lloyd Stokstad, Judy Beckman, James Becker, Joe Hohlfeld, Lynn Schwandt, Don Weideranders, Louis Finsand,; and all of the teachers I don’t have room to name that I encountered over my 14 years of attending Price Lab. I consider it truly fortunate that my parents had the foresight to send my siblings and me to Price Lab School.


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