CEDAR FALLS, Iowa --- Somber onlookers and curious bystanders formed a small crowd Saturday morning as heavy machinery tore into the north side of Malcolm Price Laboratory School.
A backhoe climbed over the remains of what appeared to be the former family consumer sciences, social studies, library and computer classrooms to tackle the mathematics wing. From
Ashley Blanchard, a graduate of Price Lab’s 2002 class, took a few pictures then stood to take in the site.
“It’s sad,” Blanchard said. “It should not be happening.”
Demolition continued Saturday on Price Lab, located at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. Former UNI President Ben Allen moved to close the teacher training facility last year ago amidst budget cuts on campus. Workers began to dismantle condemned portions of the school in phases and neighbors noticed more substantial demolition work on Friday.
On Saturday morning, neighbors and friends perched on stoops and gathered on front lawns and sidewalks along West 19th Street to discuss the razing while former students and parents lined the chain link fence that surrounded the school.
Former grade school student Garrett King visited the site in search of a keepsake.
“I had to see if they were taking out the bricks and see how bad it is,” he added.
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The school holds a special place in his heart. He misses the assemblies.
“It was the first school I ever went to,” King said.
Jasper Downs, 15, who attended Price Lab for two years, recently reminisced while watching YouTube videos about fun student projects, one of the highlights of her tenure there.
“When I found out they were tearing it down, I just had to come,” Downs said. “I’ve already cried a few times.”
Her friend, Kaitlynne Vaughn, 14, who also attended Price Lab school, accompanied Downs to the demolition site. The girls slowly circled the building’s perimeter, taking photographs and peeking in the dark doors of the Nielsen Fieldhouse, which UNI intends to save, along with the structure’s west wing.
As Downs and Vaughn witnessed the demolition, they remembered the teachers and students who made Price Lab special.
“This school was like a family to us,” Vaughn said.