From the Director
A History of Championing Diversity
A new school year is always a time of hope and excitement, especially a new school year at the Laboratory Schools.
It is autumn in Hyde Park, and our two campuses are alive with activity. This year we have welcomed more than 2,200 students in N3 through Grade 12. As alumni and parents, we know Labbies of all ages are curious, poised, informed, engaged, and articulate. They show an appreciation for intellectual inquiry, an affinity for scholarly rigor, and a commitment to diversity that fills me with hope for the future—theirs and ours. Of this year’s student body, over 53% are students of color. Our students identify across the gender spectrum. At least 20% are neurodiverse. They come from a variety of neighborhoods across our metropolitan area. Almost 60 different languages are spoken in their homes. And of course, they bring a panoply of viewpoints, opinions, and ideas to Lab’s classrooms.
The diversity of the Lab community has its roots in social justice. While there is evidence of Black student enrollment at Lab as far back as 1907, it was precisely 80 years ago that the Laboratory Schools became the first private school in then racially-segregated Chicago to formally and officially admit Black students in 1943. Thus, our schools answered the pressing and overdue call for integration, and furthered a long-standing commitment demonstrated by Lab’s prior history of enrolling Asian and Jewish students in advance of our peer schools.
Today, Lab’s mission calls us to honor diversity. We strive to live this commitment in many ways. We seek to develop and deepen our understanding of history, especially that of identity groups which have long been marginalized, such as the history of Black Americans so eloquently recounted by Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson in her dissenting opinion from the recent Supreme Court decision regarding affirmative action. We endeavor to make conscious and mitigate our implicit biases and to heighten awareness of the dynamics of privilege in our world—not to elicit guilt or blame, but to empower and inspire action for a better future. We commit resources and encourage giving to ensure ever-expanding access to Lab for families in need of financial support, at a time when wealth and income disparities are entrenched and growing. We work together to provide for our students an experience of belonging, and to instill in them a deep sense of confidence in their identities and backgrounds.
At Lab, we join with President Paul Alivisatos and Provost Kate Baicker, who reaffirmed in June that at the University of Chicago, “we consider diversity to be a strength—and, indeed, foundational to our academic success.”
Lab’s history of championing diversity, and our mission commitment of honoring diversity, will not only continue but grow. Thank you, students, educators, alumni, families, and friends of the Laboratory Schools, for supporting this work at every opportunity. From all of us at Lab, we wish you well.
Director of Schools