Closer Than Ever

Members of the Class of 2020 returned to campus in August to restage milestones lost to the first year of Covid. A tree was dedicated next to the new Graham Athletics & Wellness Center to honor their resilience and recognize that the class will be held strong by its Penn Charter roots.

Penn Charter’s singular investment of time, resources and attention to the How Far? campaign is paying off. 

The How Far? campaign reached a milestone this summer with completion of the Graham Athletics & Wellness Center, a $45 million state-of-the-art facility that will elevate PC athletics, promote wellness and benefit every member of our community. The Graham follows a series of athletics projects made possible by the campaign, including a baseball complex on the Strawbridge Campus and Maguire Field and the track surrounding it. 

Angelakis said that the Graham building promises to bring our community closer together than ever. “The building and landscape were designed to invite the community to gather, and, as it comes together, we can see that the Graham Center will be a campus hub,” Angelakis said. “It is fabulous, and students and parents will want to be there.”


CAMPAIGN STATUS

This progress in the school’s campus transformation has been made possible by the generous philanthropy of Penn Charter donors, particularly some loyal OPCs who have made major gifts to the campaign, including second gifts to support construction projects. Since January 2021, new gifts and committed pledge payments have totaled more than $13 million.

As the deadline for this publication approached, the total raised to date for the How Far? campaign exceeded $105 million.

Jeffrey Reinhold P ’12, clerk of the PC Board of Trustees, applauded the school’s fundraising efforts. “I am ecstatic with how the campaign has gone. It has helped that the economy and market have rebounded. Still, given the uncertainty of covid, we have made amazing progress. But,” Reinhold said, “we still have a ways to go to reach our campaign fundraising goal and build the new lower school.” 
 

ACADEMIC VILLAGE

In this final year of the How Far? campaign, Penn Charter needs to raise cash for buildings. The campaign has met fundraising goals for curricular innovation, the Annual Fund, financial aid, teacher support and bequests. So the two major capital projects—the Graham and the lower school—are the fundraising priorities.

“These capital projects secure the future of our school,” Reinhold said. “We need more gifts.”

Penn Charter’s 2013 Strategic Vision identified the need for a lower school facility that supports innovative teaching and what neuroscience has taught us about the way children learn. Imagining how that new facility could fit into PC’s campus launched a visionary master plan to transform the campus to meet the needs of the school far into the 21st century.

The plan realigns athletics facilities on the eastern side of campus, from the scoreboard on Maguire Field across School House Lane to the Strawbridge Campus. On the other side, the plan calls for the Lower, Middle and Upper Schools to unite in a green, pedestrian-oriented Academic Village.

“Our vision for a campus transformation combines the three divisions in a vibrant Academic Village—a vibrant learning community,” said Head of School Darryl J. Ford. “We are not done until we achieve that.”


NEW LOWER SCHOOL 

Reinhold, Ford and architects for EwingCole — the firm that designed the baseball facility and the Graham — worked this summer with Director of Lower School Marcy Sosa and a group of pre-K to 5 teachers and other colleagues to further a new conceptual design for the building. PC had a conceptual design but the new effort benefits from what faculty have learned recently as they pursued more project-based learning — as well as lessons from the covid experience. 

For example, teachers want more access—and quick and easy access—to the outdoors. “We learned during covid,” Ford said, “that each time you take students outdoors their horizons for learning and wellness are enhanced.” 

As work continues on design and pre-construction estimates, Ford is reminded that the timeline for the new building depends on philanthropic interest and support. 

His plans for the coming academic year include much more time on the road visiting OPCs and friends of the school. 

“I don’t want people to be afraid to see me coming,” Ford said with a laugh. “I look forward to meeting with people and explaining how close we are to achieving our vision for a comprehensive learning environment that will become a standard for this century. I look forward to gaining more support to finish this project.” 

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