Winchester Thurston is grateful to have received an extraordinary $1 million grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation toward the $20 million goal of Celebrate WT: Campaign for a Smart Future. This transformational gift will support critical renovations in the 50-year-old Main Building at the City Campus: the conversion of the playgrounds into Outdoor Classrooms, the expansion of the athletics wing, and the upgrading of Falk Auditorium.
“The Foundation has given us an incredible vote of confidence with this generous gift,” said Head of School Gary Niels. “Not only will WT be able to revitalize these three prominent, well used spaces, but through the Foundation’s guidance, we also have a comprehensive plan for enhancing the energy efficiency of our campuses and reducing our carbon footprint. In this way, the Foundation has been a true partner with us, and we deeply appreciate their support.”
The athletics wing and auditorium projects will include a number of measures to improve energy efficiency, including insulation, upgraded lighting, and water saving devices. These measures were developed during a year-long energy audit of all buildings on both of WT’s campuses, also funded by the Richard King Mellon Foundation, which took place in 2012-2013.
WT is now working toward final design drawings for these two projects. The time line for their completion will be announced later this school year.
The Outdoor Classrooms project, begun in early summer, nears completion; students and faculty began using the new spaces during the third week of school. WT Lower School Director Ashley Harper said, “Our Outdoor Classrooms are truly transformative for our Lower School students. The spaces allow them to understand sustainable living and gardening in an urban environment, and play in a brand new way. Our faculty has been working to integrate our engaging curriculum with these new outdoor spaces, which will support growing, cultivation, and care as well as gross motor play, dramatic play, and music. Our students are able to invent themselves over and over again!”
The Richard King Mellon Foundation has long been a generous supporter of Winchester Thurston, with grants for the Many Voices, One Vision capital campaign that built the new Upper School, and for construction of the City Campus’s Main Building, which opened in 1963, as well as renovations to that building in the 1980s. In the 1970s, the Foundation supported early City as Our Campus initiatives to help the school explore connections with local universities.