Construction in KU’s Central District is well underway: the Stouffer Place apartment buildings have mostly been demolished, the Burge Union has been razed, and the former soccer and softball fields are long gone.
One building in the center of the district still remains largely untouched. Hilltop Child Development Center sits in the middle of the construction area, and its students and their parents are treated to an ever-changing landscape each day.
Last month, students experienced the construction up close with a special program hosted by Clark Construction. The children each received a goodie bag from Northern Safety & Industrial, complete with a hard hat, green safety vest, safety goggles, and a copy of the book “Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site.” They also listened as the workers showed off the equipment and explained how they use it.
The photo below shows what the area north of Hilltop looks like at the moment. Eventually, a new parking garage and other new buildings will be built in this space.
Fun fact: the Wizard of Oz movie was released in theaters nationwide 76 years ago today on August 25, 1939. Although it was only a modest success at the box office when it was initially released, the movie had staying power and its popularity continued to grow—much to the chagrin of native and adopted Kansans alike, who grow weary of the constant refrain of jokes.
“Toto, you’re not in Kansas anymore!”
“Click your heels together.”
“Where are your ruby slippers?”
Although the movie’s classic lines have often frayed the nerves of countless Jayhawks everywhere—especially when used as fodder on signs created by fans of whatever team the Jayhawks happen to be playing—the joy this bird has brought to hundreds of children and their families is worth it.
This Wizard of Oz-themed Jayhawk, named “Lions and Tigers and Hawks, Oh My!” and perched at Hilltop Child Development Center on the KU campus, was part of Jayhawks on Parade, a 2003 collaboration between the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau, Downtown Lawrence, Inc., the University of Kansas and the Alumni Association. Thirty fiberglass birds, each attached to an 800-pound concrete base, were transformed by 35 artists into creative renderings of the Jayhawk.
Hilltop’s bird, created by Doug Barth and Amanda Warren and sponsored by KU Endowment, combines the characters from the movie and sports the Tin Man’s funnel hat, the Cowardly Lion’s mane, the straw fringe of the Scarecrow and Dorothy’s ruby red slippers. The famous yellow brick road is depicted on the Jayhawk’s beak, and a heart-shaped locket is chained to its chest.
Twelve years later the birds have flown their original nests, but many can still be found around Lawrence. I think we all agree: there’s no place like home.
Two years ago, Alyssa Cole wrote a letter to President Barack Obama, describing her challenges as a full-time student and single mother of three children. In addition to sending her a reply at the time, the president and his staff apparently saved her letter, because on Monday, Jan. 19, Cole received a call from a White House staff member, who invited Cole and her children to attend President Obama’s speech Jan. 22 during his visit to KU.
“I was pretty shocked, almost into silence,” Cole says. “I didn’t know what to say at first.”
She managed to say yes, but another surprise was in store: “On Tuesday, they called back and asked if I would introduce the president.”
Cole, a senior majoring in history with a minor in African-American Studies, wrote her own introduction of the president and submitted it to the White House for review. Her children, son Jordan, 7; daughter, Jasmine, 4; and son Max, 3, will accompany her to the president’s speech in KU’s Anschutz Sports Pavilion, just down Irving Hill Road from the KU’s Hilltop Child Development Center, where Jasmine and Max are students.
Cole will walk down the Hill in May. As one of KU’s McNair Scholars, she will spend the summer researching African-American women in the military. She plans to attend graduate school, most likely at KU. The Garden City native moved to Lawrence with her children after completing community college in her hometown. “I always wanted to come to KU,” she says.
It’s time to fly over to Hilltop Child Development Center for their annual birdhouse auction. Most of these nice nests were created by students in Hilltop’s after school program, appropriately located in the Jayhawk Room. Bids can be placed in person or over the phone by calling (785) 864-4940 starting December 10. Bidding ends at 5:45 p.m. on Thursday, December 13, and money raised will go to the Hilltop Families in Need Holiday Fund and the American Red Cross. Pics of all the birdhouses can be viewed on Hilltop’s Facebook page at: facebook.com/hilltopcdc.
The birdhouse above, created by Hilltop teacher Mike Pisani, features Lippencott Hall on Jayhawk Blvd., named for KU’s fourth Chancellor. Originally built in 1905, students at the time asked that the building be named Green Hall to honor James Woods Green, then Dean of the School of Law and perhaps better known as “Uncle Jimmy Green.” In 1978, it was renamed Lippencott Hall. It now houses KU’s Office of Study Abroad, the Applied English Center and the Wilcox museum of classical antiquities. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. (Photo courtesy Machaela Whelan, Hilltop CDC)