School officials and donors cut the ribbon to celebrate the opening of the two new buildings.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Miss Halls School celebrated its first major expansion in 15 years, cutting the ribbon Friday for two new buildings.
The $13.5 million expansion project includes a new residence hall and a new academic building. The 9,325 square-foot residence hall expands enrollment opportunities to now 250 students, up from 201 currently enrolled at the private school.
The academic building will serve as the focus of a new "STEAM" program focusing on science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics. The 18,125 square-foot building will be the home of the new programs featuring new science laboratories, meeting space, work rooms, and innovation lab.
"The buildings in front of you represent a bold and creative vision for the next generation of Miss Halls, our students and those who will follow you for many years to come," Head of School Julia Heaton said.
"The importance of these new spaces to our school cannot be overstated. Not only do these buildings represent the first significant expansion to our campus in 15 years, they demonstrate our commitment to providing girls with exceptional educational opportunities."
The new Linn Hall is named after the late Caroline "Linn" Merck Perkins, a 1914 graduate. Her family donated some $5 million toward the construction project and members were on hand to help cut the ribbon.
Inside will feature the Grace Murray Hopper Innovation Lab, which will have new classes in animation, robotics, and more. The building is the hub for the new Engineer and Technology Innovation program as well as the Jeannie Norris Horizons Studio, which is focused on experiential learning.
Through the Horizons program, board President Stacey Sotirhos said students volunteer for community service with more than 75 organization and putting in some 12,000 hours.
"We will graduate a new generation of Miss Hall's graduates, thinkers, creators, global citizens, and courage participants in a global society. Whether learning in new laboratories, exploring new courses, our students will have the opportunity to demonstrate their vision, voice, interpersonal efficacy and gumption, and be encouraged every day to contribute boldly and creatively to the common good here and far from here," Heaton said.
The residence hall is open and the academic building is expected to open in the next month.
The project to expand the 115-year-old college preparatory girls' school came together in 2013 and Flansburgh Architects of Boston was hired to design the new structures. The project was funded from a mix of donations, a $10 million tax-exempt bond from the state's MassDevelopment and purchased by NBT Bank. But getting there took years of fundraising and planning, according to Sotirhos.
Head of School Julia Heaton the school wouldn't lose its 'Miss Hall's Magic' in this expansion.
"We thank all of the generous donors who over the last three years have contributed over $18 million to support the future of the school," she said.
Construction began last July, creating some 100 construction jobs during that timeframe mostly through local contractors.
"So much of this work took place behind the scenes from many of you and with surprisingly little disruption to our day to day life," Heaton said.
Together, the two buildings open new avenues for curriculum and education to even more students. Heaton said the expansion isn't so big that students would lose the close-knit community, and what she calls "Miss Halls Magic."
Miss Hall's is one of the city's oldest schools, dating back to 1898, and one of the first all-girls boarding schools in New England. In 1909, the school moved to its current 80 acres of land on Holmes Road, the former Col. Walter Cutting estate. The current enrollment is 210, with 150 living on campus.
"This is a historic occasion for Miss Hall's School," Sotirhos said.
"These buildings represent years of planning and hard work on the part of many people and Linn Hall demonstrates the school's commitment to providing the appropriate facilities for our students and faculty. I am grateful to all who supported this project, contributed toward its completion, and stepped forward to accomplish this work. This was a bold and ambitious project, one that will set the stage for our students for years to come."
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