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Head's November Message

November 10, 2016

Abbott_091012_228.jpgOn October 28 in our morning assembly, we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Newman Prize. The Newman Prize was established by a group of alumni who invited members of the junior class to submit a list of the five living Americans they would most like to meet. The Newman Prize committee spends a weekend interviewing all of the applicants and then chooses one of them and arranges a meeting with one of those five Americans. More than half of the former winners returned for the assembly, and we were lucky to hear from three of them that morning. The award was named for Eric Newman ’28, who was a seventh grader at Burroughs on the day the school opened, October 12, 1923. Incredibly, Mr. Newman, age 105, was on hand for the Newman Prize assembly. While it was wonderful to celebrate his life and the prize, it was also a great morning to celebrate that the Newman family gave the lead gift that ignited the commitment to build a new home for science, technology and research. No single gift to the school has ever been larger.

Much more information about the building, the design and process will be forthcoming, but some of the most common questions about the future have already begun to be asked, and I'll do my best to answer them here.

When will construction begin? At this point, we do not know for certain. Our hope is to begin in the summer of 2017 and for the building to be complete before the end of 2018, contingent on approval from the city of Ladue, the pace of fundraising and the availability of materials and workers.

Where will science classes be held during construction? We will have temporary classrooms and labs for the duration of the project, and they will have at least as much square footage as the current spaces. Our plan is to have the classrooms placed on the hillside overlooking Laughing Lake, south of the natatorium.

Will there be library facilities available during construction? Yes, we will have all of the computers, books, staffing and other curricular and research materials available and centrally located on campus — most likely in or near the Cissel Center.

Will all of the current curriculum be offered during construction? Yes, we will offer the full science curriculum and all of the sections that we currently have. At this point, we believe the only classes that will be affected are in the Family and Consumer Science Department. Rather than our typical cooking for 7th graders and sewing for 8th graders, we will likely have all 7th and 8th graders sew in 2017-18 and then all 7th and 8th graders cook in the following year so every student still has both experiences.

Will Burroughs increase enrollment? As part of our request to add the new science and library to our special use permit, we did ask to increase the enrollment cap from 600 to 650 students. The request was made primarily to give us additional flexibility in admissions, and we may gradually increase the student body just as we have for the past 30 years, when we grew from 550 to 600. However, any increase we make will include a similar growth in staffing so that student-teacher ratios remain the same, and all growth will be incremental and done only with a careful eye on maintaining the current culture and sense of community that we have come to expect.

Will I be asked for a gift to pay for the building? Of course we welcome support from everyone in the community, but we are not planning the massive community-wide campaign that we held in the Campaign for Burroughs, which concluded in 2014. We hope all interested families, including those who were not here for the previous campaign, will participate in this wonderful initiative.

— Andy Abbott