The University of Chicago Magazine October 1995
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A friend's family archives include home movies taken, September after September, as she and her siblings left home for the first day of school. Each year's fall footage features fewer proud grins and more abashed waves, with hastier fades to a waiting schoolbus. Still, the record is complete, up through shots of well-stuffed station wagons heading off to college.

My own family archives will have, I confess, their share of lacunae. This September, my sixth-grader rose at dawn, packed her lunch, and headed off, a text-heavy backpack on her shoulders, before her parents had finished their coffee, let alone found the camera. A half hour later, my fourth-grader grudgingly allowed me to accompany her as far as the front steps of the University of Chicago Lab Schools. "But not up the stairs, Mom," she pleaded. "Once you're in fourth grade, only dweebs let their mothers come inside."

Luckily for the ongoing record, not every child gets camera-shy at the same moment. The young woman pictured above willingly fell in with her father's plans to capture the beginning of another school year--a year that has special significance at the Lab Schools.

Come January, the Schools--enrolling 1,600 students from nursery school through twelfth grade--will begin a yearlong celebration of their centennial. Established in 1896 by John Dewey, the Schools have a long history of doing lots of things a little differently (ask graduates from the 1930s and '40s about learning to type on the Dvorak keyboard), and the centennial will celebrate those differences with an All-Schools concert, an illustrated history, an exhibit at the Regenstein Library, special items on their World Wide Web home page (, and lots of student participation. Plus a few new photos for the archives.

Other voices, other views

In "Other Voices," Jessica Abel, AB'91, tackles a topic usually reserved for returning grammar-school students: How I Spent My Summer Vacation. Abel--who works by day as an administrative assistant at the School of the Art Institute, and by night as a comic-book artist (her protagonist goes by the name of "Art Babe")--took a working holiday, joining archaeological excavations in France and Italy. To get her take on the experience, turn to page 48.--M.R.Y.

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