Price Lab Alumni Reminisce At Reunion
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa --- Hugs and handshakes replaced more than a month's worth of grief and frustration inside Nielsen Fieldhouse at Malcolm Price Laboratory School as hundreds gathered for the annual all-class reunion picnic.
Stories flowed Saturday as fellow classmates, teachers and friends of the school filled the fieldhouse to its capacity. With a line stretching out the door, the school's pending closure was no doubt on the minds of those in attendance.
Reunion organizer and 1987 graduate Becky Hawbaker was on her feet much of the afternoon, as she catered to the more than 1,000 in attendance.
After running out of food in the first 45 minutes, she couldn't believe the abundance of unity shared by those involved with the school.
"There is still grief here, but that is the magic. While we still may be grieving and upset with the situation we are in, we are still able to come together and feel the excitement of reconnecting with old friends and faculty," Hawbaker said.
Tours were available during and after the luncheon for those who wanted to walk the hallways of their old school.
The annual event typically brings in around 400 alumni each year, with specific class reunions planned over that weekend.
The class of 1967 celebrated their 45-year reunion this weekend.
Lynn "Willie" Willadsen of Cedar Falls is an alum from the class of 1967. He said while the news that the school will be closing was on his mind, it is not what brought him back to his alma mater.
Willadsen laughed as he recalled a time when his high school choral teacher called him by the wrong name, "Herb."
"It's all the memories like that one that make us want to come back to this place," Willadsen said. "We all just want to come back to the place where we had such great memories. It was such as great experience."
Shirts and other merchandise was on sale during the event. Yearbooks and other items also were on display.
However, most in attendance were there to see old, familiar faces and bask in the many memories shared inside the walls where they grew up.
Neil Westin, of Des Moines and a 1992 graduate, is one of four in his family to graduate from Price Lab.
"It was just a great opportunity to have gone to school here," Westin said. "The opportunities that were given to the students were so unique, and the memories we made during that time were unforgettable, it's hard to pick one favorite."
Alumni and faculty will be given the chance to preserve the thousands of memories, and honor their former school by sending in photographs, documents, archived materials and memories.
School officials have yet to announce what will be done with the materials, but talks are underway.
Following the picnic, members of the class of 1967 gathered at the home of Lynn and Mary Nielsen for dinner and further reminiscing.
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