By Will Twomey
Now that we have our newly built field, what is the next “phase” of physical improvements for Sonoma Academy?
In the original plan for the school, there were going to be seven buildings built, but even with $40,000,000 to spend, there was not enough money for permits, workers, materials, etc. In the end, just three buildings were built.
Even with the number of classrooms SA already has, some teachers find themselves without a definite “home” on campus.
When asked about this need, Head of School Janet Durgin said, “I know a lot of students think that we are desperately in need of classrooms and it’s true that we do not have a dedicated classroom for each teacher, but that’s really an inefficient use of space – to have a classroom sitting empty for a double period every day.”
In terms of performance space, the plan is to build a new theater while keeping the Fitzsimmons Black Box Theater for movies, small meetings and shows that do not require a very large stage. The location of the new theater has not been determined.
Another wish for our future campus is, as Durgin describes, “some kind of eating facility.” This place wouldn’t be a cafeteria, but it would be a place with better meal options for students.
“What we’ve begun to imagine,” Durgin said, “is much more than a place where we make food, use our garden and teach cooking, but a place where students can learn about food and food systems, its relation to the environment and food equity.”
There is currently no designated eating place for SA students. The new building will be open all day long with coffee, a stage in the corner and even games. “It is not just a cafeteria,” said Durgin, “it is a hub of student life.” To keep with our school’s connection to nature, seating will also be outside.
For athletes, there aren’t any short term plans because of the $1,000,000 field investment, but long-term ideas exist for a pool, baseball field and some other far away facilities. For those interested in technology, a suite of studios will possibly be built for robotics, experimental engineering, podcasts and films.
So, where does the money for all these ideas come from? Our own community has given all the money in the past and will hopefully do so again in the future. This way, our own school has a say in what is added. When contacted, two sets of previous donors declined to state any things they would like to see added, but one can assume it would be similar to those ideas currently floating to the top. Those original plans pictured above will be used as inspiration for the new buildings as well. “The fact that we have them certainly helps the architects because there is a lot of base information,” Derice Hogle, Director of Finance and Operations mentioned, “but they don’t have to recreate it.”
On September 29th, the architects presented to the Board of Trustees and will do so later to the students. Durgin and Hogle have promised a first scoop on plans once the Board has made progress. As for now, they want your ideas. Durgin said, “It is kind of exciting; the ideas that have come up. I think the students are really going to like it a lot.”