FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2016
The new WMS Sports Park was officially opened Friday morning with a gathering and a ribbon cutting ceremony. Head of School Pat Werner was joined by Chair of the Board of Trustees Bill Dunbar and Director of Athletics Theo Grayson in speaking on the occasion.
As I stand here looking over our beautiful school, I think back to when we were teaching children at our old school building on New Preston Hill and even before my time when the school was at the Marsh Horse Farm and before that our beginnings in St John’s basement in Washington. Even back then when we were a far smaller school, we were blessed with a community of parents who cared deeply about the education they were investing in for their children; and they were willing to support our little school in big and small ways.
What strikes me this morning is that our community, while larger, remains equally committed to our philosophy of education. And while many of our past parents paved the way—literally—for the building of this school and campus, it is this generation of parents who have paved the way for this tremendous and very much-needed enhancement to our school facilities.
It’s a wonderful thing to see a dream realized. Over my 40+ years here we have had many dreams, all of which have been thoughtfully-considered by committees of parents and board members—committed individuals like those of you here who are willing to take on big picture questions: What are our needs. . .now and for the future? What are the things we must do for WMS to ensure the strength and growth of our school. . .and continue to provide not just a good, but an excellent and enhanced education, to our students as the world around us changes so rapidly. These are not easy decisions to make, and we need to weigh many factors along the way.
Then, of course, we need to raise the money to make it happen, and I am consistently moved and awed by the generosity and commitment of our parents.
How grateful we are for all of you. We know that this Sports Park will not only be a terrific asset for our students, but it will also help us bring in more students over the years—which makes for a healthy school on every level. If you haven’t had a chance to, please go up and take a peek at the tennis courts and look at the view of everything here from that level. Thank you very much to all of you who made this possible.
For 5 months, we’ve been praying for rain to help get the grass on the field to grow and it looks like Mother Nature is about to deliver… so I’ll be brief.
On behalf of the entire board, thank you all for being here today and thank you to everyone who helped make our new Sports Park a reality. So many people contributed in so many ways that it’s impossible to thank everyone today, but I do want mention a few people.
The very first conversation I had about the WMS Board was 6 years ago. It was with my good friend Sandy Neubauer and he shared with me that day a vision of what the 50th anniversary could mean for the school. He didn’t know exactly what we’d do—that this is where we’d end up – but he knew it was a chance to do something big. Sandy was excited and motivated and his hard work as Board Chair and chief fundraiser carried us through the 50th. We thank you, Sandy, for making not just the Sports Park, but the entire campaign, a reality for WMS.
So we had our dream of doing something transformational for the school, and we developed a plan to match the vision, but we needed the funds to make it happen. And when we went out and asked for support, the community came forward in a big way. All told we raised over $2.3M dollars for the school in donations large and small. It’s a real testament to the nature of our community, that so many people were willing to give not for individual recognition, but because they love WMS and want to do something for the benefit of the kids. I thank all the donors from the bottom of my heart.
Now we had a vision, a plan, and money. We were then staring at a solid piece of ledge sloping up into the woods. In stepped the Travelstead and Oneglia families and O&G Industries to carve a field and tennis courts into the hill for us. We had a tight budget and a tight timeline, and of course we had the typical complications that any project of this size is bound to have. But they guided us through and have built a great facility for us. Thank you, Jason & Jessica, Greg & Cathy and everyone from O&G who worked on the project.
There’s one person who knows every inch of this campus like the back of his hand and I want to take the opportunity today to thank Erik Hawvermale for everything he’s done over the course of the project. Erik not only knows the facilities, but he’s also been our Athletic Director and a coach and that experience was invaluable in making sure the details that matter to how we will use the facility were taken care of. Thank you, Erik.
I spoke at Back to School night last week how if all we did was drop our kids off in the morning and pay our tuition, WMS would still be the best school around, but that our community’s involvement beyond the basics—whether that’s donating to the Annual Fund or 50th campaign, or volunteering your time and talent—that makes this great school extraordinary. Two years ago we had a beautiful building with adequate outdoor space. And thanks to you all we now have an entire campus befitting our extraordinary program. Again, on behalf of the entire board, our sincerest thanks.