In a brief ceremony this morning on Baker Field before the entire Princeton Day School student, faculty and staff community and special guests, Head of School Paul J. Stellato led the groundbreaking to construct the School's new athletic and community center. Mr. Stellato was flanked by Chair of the PDS Board of Trustees Rebecca Bushnell '70 and three representative students from the Lower School, Middle School and Upper School.
"The new athletics and squash center is the most recent expression of a school-wide theme: enhancing the quality of the student experience through exceptional programs and the facilities that call them home," observed Mr. Stellato. "With its opening in 2020, it will join the ranks of new facilities that have transformed our campus and engaged our students: the Matthews Arts Wing, the Petrella Garden Classroom, the Wellemeyer STEAM Center, Shepherd Commons, and 20 new Upper School classrooms. With other projects waiting in the wings, this new center, and all of these projects, have been made possible through the aspirations of our students and the generosity of the School's many families and friends," he noted. In addition to accomplishing key facilities and program enhancements over the past several years, the School has significantly expanded its professional development and need-based financial aid efforts through program funding from generous friends of the School.
Today's groundbreaking symbolizes the official start of the construction timeline for the School's new athletic center and culminates several years of strategic planning and highly successful capital campaign efforts. While some pre-construction activity has already begun, the project will begin in earnest on June 10 with a planned completion goal of Fall 2020.
"The Board has been energized in these recent months by the confidence our generous donors have shown in their commitment to the School and its inspiring leader, Paul Stellato. We are focused on continuing to help implement this exciting next stage of Princeton Day School, realizing our collective vision of an educational experience that prepares our students to thrive for decades to come," Dr. Bushnell explained.
Upon achieving critical design and construction approvals and capital giving milestones, the PDS Board of Trustees in March formally endorsed moving forward with the 35,000-square-foot, LEED-Certified athletics and squash center. Connected to and surrounding the School's Lisa McGraw '44 Skating Rink, the new center will hold four international squash courts; a field house with two all-purpose athletic courts; changing rooms; offices; concessions; and a welcoming and generously proportioned commons from which spectators will be able to watch squash, ice hockey, and games (basketball, fencing, volleyball) in the field house. The field house itself will accommodate as many as 1,400 and will serve as the venue for key community gatherings such as Convocation, the annual Thanksgiving Assembly, end-of-year ceremonies for Divisions, and other all-school activities and events.
In concluding his remarks before the assembled community, Mr. Stellato explained, "There are too many people to call out and thank for their years of hard work in bringing this project to life, but I am thrilled that so many of them can be here today. This center will be a spectacular space for each of you and for every member of our community. It is especially fitting that we are breaking ground on this project on Blue and White Day, because there is no day during the year that is more representative of Princeton Day School than this joint celebration of our entire PreK-Grade 12 community."
A trumpet serenade reverberated over Baker Field, followed by Mr. Stellato's ringing appeal launching the Blue & White Day activities, "Let the games begin!" It was the perfect exclamation point on a day rich in symbolism about the storied games to come in the School's new athletic center.
Photos: Top, Princeton Day School Head of School Paul J. Stellato, far left, breaking ground for new athletic center with, far right, PDS Board Chair Rebecca Bushnell '70 and Lower, Middle and Upper School student representatives Jeremiah Upshur '27, Heidi Vander Schaaf '23 and Rakesh Potluri '19; Bottom photos, an architectural rendering of Princeton Day School's new athletic center; Paul and Maureen Stellato with Director of Advancement Kathy Schulte, far left, as Blue & White Day field activities got underway.