I came across an interesting statistic the other day. Did you know elephants boast the longest gestation period of any land animal?
At up to 23 months, it’s a long time to wait for the new baby to join the world. In some ways, this is how it feels to be on the very precipice of moving into our new middle school building.
We started this journey to expand our school in 2018 when we came to realize we would outgrow our current building at a rate far outpacing initial expectations. There were several conversations with property owners near the school, including the Oberto family, that were intriguing. After beginning early design work with our architect and project manager on the property we own to the north of the school, we realized it wasn’t ideal for our program needs. So, we reached out to the Oberto family again and the rest is history.
After purchasing the Oberto property, we began to explore a capital campaign and hired a company to undertake a feasibility study on behalf of the school to help guide our next steps. The feasibility study would inform our financial options and help us identify our supporters. The outcome of the study gave us confidence we could embark on a successful fundraising campaign.
A capital campaign committee was formed, and fundraising began. We were just getting rolling when the pandemic interrupted our momentum. We paused efforts for a short time and then began again. After a year of fundraising, it was finally time to break ground. The minutia of documents, meetings, conversations, and planning that went into getting to this point were many and hard to quantify.
Let’s just say, the hours of time across many, many constituencies were countless.
Construction began with just the opposite. We first had to remove the building on the property. Afterward, the new foundation and framing could start. Throughout the fall of 2021 we made amazing progress. It seemed like the building was growing and changing every day. In November, there were the first whisperings of a snag. Concrete drivers were negotiating a new contract and a strike was possible. We began to consider the possibility that construction would be disrupted, and we planned for how to adjust the construction schedule should a strike unfold. And then it did.
Work slowed. We missed our pour in December, then again in January, and finally, in February, through the hard work and tenacity of our team, we were able to pour concrete. It wasn’t without disruption, however by mid-March, we were able to move forward with next steps in the project held up by the concrete.
By late spring, the walls were up, windows were being installed, siding started, and the rooms began to take shape. Faculty and staff were able to tour the space and begin to envision teaching there. They could start to dream about the possibilities for educating students in a state-of-the-art facility, built specifically for our students.
I could see the excitement on their faces.
As we moved into summer, there were more milestones reached, and a few other bumps. Street improvements included deeding a small strip of land back to the city, sidewalk installation included modifying a Metro route, and rumors of another concrete strike started again. Throughout it all, we continued to work as a team to adjust and modify, willing and ready to persevere. At some point later this fall, we will move into this new space. And as we enter those doors, we will know the complexity and extent of what went into making it all possible.
One other fun fact about elephants; they never forget. It would be easy to overlook these facts and details and erase the minutia. However, it’s in these very particulars the depth of the loyalty and devotion to our mission live and prosper.
Head of School