John Vaccaro

Mr. Hughes wanted LM to be a comfortable place for students, a school with a real community feel—and he worked hard to ensure that would happen.

John+Vaccaro

The House That Hughes Built

In the years leading up to the opening of the “new” Lower Merion High School, I distinctly remember the energy and passion with which Mr. Hughes approached the project. His thoughtfulness and attention to every detail left me wondering whether he was planning and designing a custom house for his family or a school for 1600 students.  Mr. Hughes could not contain his excitement as he arranged tours for staff members of the half-built LM building. He beamed with pride while pointing out the details of what was to become of the metal studs and wires hanging in the hallways. It was evident that Mr. Hughes wanted Lower Merion High School to be a special place.

In 2010, the new school finally opened, and Mr. Hughes proudly showed off its unique features, both academic and performance-related, such as the Art Wing, the Greenhouse, the Black Box, and what would later be known as the Bryant Gymnasium. When it came down to it, Mr. Hughes at minimum just wanted there to be something for everyone in the new school building. But it was his personal touch that made this place truly special.

Mr. Hughes wanted LM to be a comfortable place for students, a school with a real community feel—and he worked hard to ensure that would happen. Take a look around as you walk through the school. Notice all of the spaces where students can meet up to work on a project or just hang out together: inside, there are high-top desks outside of the Counseling Department suite, counters in the corners of each floor, benches outside the library, and chairs in the atrium; outside, it’s benches, picnic tables, and Adirondack chairs in the courtyard. Mr. Hughes included student artwork spanning the decades on the walls, placed encouraging words for everyone to see, and imprinted the giant words “Aces Nation” in the atrium along with an enormous bulldog. Mr. Hughes recognized that schools are built first and foremost for students, and he never stopped thinking of ways to drive home this idea in our building.

Lastly—and this should come as no surprise to those who knew Mr. Hughes as a History teacher in the ’90s—one of Mr. Hughes’s real passions regarded learning everything there is to know about LM, both past and present. Given his connection to the past, it was very appropriate when the giant ball made of lockers from the old school was hung above the stairs in the atrium, and the old gym floor made its way onto the wall in the lower atrium. 

Mr. Hughes built the school for our LM family. The next time you walk through the school, what will you notice?

close

The Merionite Newsletter

Sign up to receive the latest news in your inbox, every issue.