We hope you'll enjoy the photo gallery which documents the progress of this construction. Pictures may tell stories, but none can adequately capture the excitement felt over this historic addition to our school.
We now ask our community to turn its attention to creating a similar home for our girls. If you are interested in supporting this campaign, please do not hesitate to speak with Diana Stiles, Director of Alumni & Development, at (413) 774-3021 or Shelley Borror Jackson, Head of School at (413) 774-7061.
Three years ago, as part of the school’s ongoing strategic planning, a group of faculty members, administrators, dorm parents, and trustees spent several months examining our boarding life. We revisited the mission. We studied admission numbers and demographics, and we projected future enrollment. We looked closely at the quality of life for our dorm parents, the “heart and soul” of our boarding program. The structures of our dorms—some nearly 300 years old—were examined. In a “leave no stones unturned” moment, we even imagined Bement without boarding.
This thorough study led us to the following conclusions:
Our boarding program embodies every value held dear at Bement. In boarding, we live and learn as a family…encouraging responsibility for our work and actions…working together to create a climate of acceptance and kindness, just as our mission demands. Simply put, boarding symbolizes everything the rest of the school aspires to be. We can’t be Bement without it.
To remain a viable junior boarding school, new dorms must be constructed. While our current historic homes may represent charm to some, they hinder the kind of supervision we desire and challenge the boarding program we are committed to deliver.
Faculty housing must be improved. The size and configuration of most current apartments are not conducive to long-term commitments from dorm parents or to adults who have spouses or children.
Bement’s Board of Trustees has enthusiastically embraced these needs and has authorized a capital campaign unprecedented in its goals and in the transformation it represents for our boarders and the faculty who work with them. A successful campaign will enable us to take the following steps:
Boarding life will be centralized on our North End Campus.
Two, two-story dorms, each housing 20 students, will replace Barton, Bement, Wright, and Stebbins. Four dorm apartments will be included in the new dorms, thereby retaining our faculty: student ratio of never more than 1:10.
Faculty apartments will be either one- or three-bedroom units which will dramatically increase our ability to hire dorm parents at various stages in their professional and personal lives.
Each floor will have a centrally located common room and kitchen, allowing us to continue our tradition of encouraging group activities, cooking skills, and sharing food together.
Common rooms and faculty apartments will be arranged to facilitate the kind of supervision necessary in junior boarding schools.
Dorms will be engineered to reflect latest research to insure energy efficiency. Operating costs will be dramatically reduced. We aspire to build structures which will serve as nationwide models to schools which are eager to contribute to a more sustainable environment.
New dorms will dramatically improve our ability to meet safety codes and regulations.
Some Hopes Fulfilled
While new dorms are a necessity if Bement is to retain its boarding program, our study also allowed us to identify additional ways this component of our school can be improved. In January, 2009, a local property—nearly three acres with a large Colonial reproduction home- adjacent to our playing fields at the north end of town became available. In almost uncanny ways, it immediately solved several identified campus problems and did so at less cost than new construction. When we closed on this sale in late May, we immediately acquired:
A Bement-owned head’s residence. Ever since Kay Bartlett and Gug Drexler bought Bement from its founder, heads of school have lived in Billings House, a property rented from Historic Deerfield. Historic Deerfield had indicated that some time in the future they will want to use Billings House in their museum plan. This fact, coupled with the high cost of operating and maintaining a 250-year-old home, made the new acquisition an environmentally and financially smart move. In addition, the new house offers countless opportunities for school functions and activities not possible in Billings House. Memorable school traditions are already unfolding in this lovely new setting.
A warm, comfortable gathering place, startlingly absent on our campus until now. We needed a space which could accommodate the boarding community for informal meals, movies, games, or meetings—a space which could serve an important function and also act as a magnet for drawing students and faculty together. Given the fact that all spaces on campus typically serve multiple functions, this new community room also hosts advisee activities and provides an additional meeting location for faculty and parent groups. It has become the busiest spot on campus!
A true maintenance facility. Our buildings and grounds department can now have, for the first time ever, an appropriate space to house a workshop, office for the director, and parking space for school vehicles in the home’s basement and large garage.
The outdoor pool needed for our many summer programs. It provides fun and exercise for boarders and dorm parents in the warm months of fall or spring.
The Opening of our new boys’ dormitory!
In February, 2010, half of this dream came true. Bement and Stebbins Houses have been replaced by Blydenburgh and Jiayi Houses. They secure Bement’s place in the junior boarding school world, significantly enhance the quality of the experience we offer those students and adults who live here, and bring us closer to achieving this last phase of necessary campus improvements. We remain steadfast in our commitment to providing our girls and their dorm parents with a similar facility, but will need leadership support to make these plans a reality. Please don’t hesitate to contact Diana Stiles, Director of Alumni and Development, or Shelley Borror Jackson, Head of School, for more information or to support this initiative.
Former head of school from 1947-1971, Mary "Gug" H. Drexler, passed away on April 23, 2013 at the age of 101.
Remembrances of Gug's time as head of school can be found on the school's alumni facebook page.
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