Right now, I am depressed. And it's not because the 2009 edition of my least-favorite month is upon us, either. I am also sad because last Friday was the last day of business for the University of Houston's Human Development Lab School. I've written about this regrettable decision, and the reaction of affected families to it, here and here. The Lab School, of course, was not just a great place for Kirby, but it was also the same place where I went to preschool, so its demise is especially mournful for me.
Last Friday afternoon, Lori and I went to pick up Kirby for the least time and to say goodbye to all the people who made the Lab School such a wonderful place for him. I brought along my camera to record some final images. By the time we got there most of the children had already gone and the classrooms were empty. The toys had been put away, and the posters, decorations and childrens' artwork that once adorned the walls had been taken down:
The hallway was still a mess, as teachers were collecting their personal belongings and putting out trash from their classrooms:Thirty years ago, the front hallway was carpeted, and in the afternoons you would have found me drawing on the carpet with chalk as I waited for my mom to come pick me up. The cleaning crew probably didn't enjoy having to vacuum my artwork, but I sure had a great time creating it. Friday afternoon, the no-longer-carpeted hallway was just as desolate as every place else in the school:
Kirby's cubbyhole was where he kept his lunchbox, his naptime blankets, some toys, changes of clothes, artwork he had made, and other items. We took everything home with us that afternoon, leaving it depressingly vacant:The reason the HDL was such a great place for so many children over its forty-plus years of existence, myself and Kirby included, was due to its talented and dedicated staff. Among them were Carol, Jeanette and Kari, who povided such wonderful care for Kirby and his classmates:
Chris Holzer was Kirby's teacher this past spring. Lori and I are appreciative of the all the work the HDL staff has done for Kirby - he truly loved that school and the developmental progress he made while he was there was enormous - and we hope that they find new employment soon, as they will be an asset to any school that hires them:
It is indeed unfortunate that such a well-regarded and long-lived institution can be closed at the self-serving and short-sighted whim of a handful of university administrators, but such is life in the academic world. The HDL may be no more, but its service to the children of Houston and the memories it left its students, families and staff alike will last forever.