By Katie Slavik ’15
The conference bell rings throughout the halls of our school, and students hurriedly rush out of classrooms. Teachers with raised voices persistently try to inform the eager students of their homework assignments. Some students head to the Schoolroom, which looks almost the same as it did a hundred years ago. At the same time, some head in the direction of Gammons but turn right towards a new, gleaming staircase. These stairs lead up to a large, modern space with a high glass ceiling. Students gather at a café to grab some snacks, and laughter fills the spacious room. Meanwhile, other students have retreated to the library, formerly called the Hall, to hastily finish some Latin homework. If the blueprints for the new addition to the Schoolhouse don’t change until they are approved by the Board of Trustees, this could be the future of Groton School.
The planning for the additions to the Schoolhouse began two years ago and have been changing. Moving from their preliminary stage to their final stage, the changes are becoming more and more minor. Mr. Hall says that the questions about the plans have progressed from “Where should we put the physics classroom?” to “What kind of doorknobs should we use?”, and “What equipment should we buy?” The planning will most likely end this January.
If the designs stay the same, the STEM addition and the other renovations to the Schoolhouse will certainly be impressive. “We’re trying to look at everything fifty years ahead, the dining hall, the library, the roads,” Mr. Hall says. “We’re trying to better the entire campus.” Groton not only plans to build an addition to the Schoolhouse but to also change some of the current buildings. The library will be moved into the Hall, which will become the new version of the Reading Room, and a large, multipurpose lecture hall will be located somewhere in the new building. This move will allow students to use the library’s resources during the academic day. The side of the library that faces the Circle, as well as the Reading Room, will remain available to students to study.
In addition, the new STEM classrooms will be positioned by a large room in the center of the Schoolhouse called “The Forum.” The Forum will serve as the heart of social life during school hours. It will include a café for students to grab a snack and outdoor patios that will be added to the entrances of the additional building. Small study rooms may be scattered around so that students don’t have to study in the often noisy hallways. The Forum will also better incorporate the science, math, and STEM classrooms into the Schoolhouse. “Right now, the Math and Science Wing is busting at the seams,” comments Mr. Hall. The math and science classrooms will be on the same floor as the humanities classrooms which will more fluidly integrate the two.
While the plans are exciting to say the least, one worries if the modern Forum and STEM classrooms will take away the traditional feeling one has when walking through our time-honored hallways. In spite of the fact that the school plans to change the Hall, the Schoolroom, a 19th century relic, will remain the same, and much of the Schoolhouse will keep its old-fashioned look. “We’re trying to balance between the tradition of the school and the demands of a 21st century education,” Mr. Commons says. So while the additions will bring a much more contemporary feel to the School, the traditional feel of the School that Groton values so much will remain.
Though these plans are not yet final, the construction will hopefully begin this summer. The School hopes that the project can be completed by the Fall of 2015.