Teachers Told of Early Plans to Renovate High School Starting in 2023

The Forum, seen from the third floor. Photo by Olivia Brown.

In a faculty meeting on Feb. 2, administrators discussed plans to renovate the high school, including adding to the building, expanding the Forum, altering department offices and increasing classroom space, according to three teachers who learned about the project at the meeting.

The renovation is set to begin in 2023. 

The expanded high school building—with the field, gym, parking garage, Forum and hallways of classrooms overlooking the field—opened in 2006. Construction of the new lower/middle school building was completed in 2020.

In the Feb. 2 meeting, Assistant Principal for School Life Quinn Killy presented a slideshow with maps of the campus now and after the changes would be made. A representative from the school’s architecture firm also attended the meeting to answer teachers’ questions about the details of the renovation.

After the presentation, the teachers split into three discussion groups to discuss changes that would be made to the faculty offices, talk about staff amenities and ask administrators questions, according to history teacher Richard Avidon.

Science teacher Greg Dallinger said in an interview that the school’s plans do not seem certain. “I’ll believe it when there are shovels in the ground. That’s when it’s happening,” he said.

Killy, Head of School Russell Shaw, High School Principal Katie Gibson and Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey Houser were not available for interviews with the Bit prior to the publication of this story.

Avidon told the Bit that GDS is planning to add 18 feet to the side of the building that faces Davenport Street, which could require changes to the drop-off circle. History teacher Sue Ikenberry said that the school will expand by “10 or 15 feet” in one direction.

According to Avidon and history teacher Topher Dunne, the school plans to use the addition to expand the Forum to fit the entire high school and add classrooms or increase the size of existing ones.

The addition would also allow for GDS to build more study rooms, according to librarian Rhona Campbell.  

Dunne said that the grade deans’ offices might be moved to create an area dedicated to student support and activities, including the learning specialists and possibly offices for clubs.

English teacher Julianne McCobin said that she and her colleagues in the English department talked after the staff meeting about what they wanted for their office in the renovation. They discussed hopes for “lots of bookshelves in our office, alternatives to fluorescent lighting, and things like that to really have a cozy, collaborative sort of space,” McCobin said.

McCobin said that the department offices “might be moving.” She added that moving the offices could “change maybe the feel of the school” if they are placed in one area of the building.

Latin teacher Nicola McCutcheon is excited about the upcoming renovation. “Updates to the space are always great,” she said in an interview.

History teacher Sue Ikenberry said that the administrators proposed making department offices smaller while adding more space dedicated to faculty, such as the lounge, to compensate.

Ikenberry, who has taught at the school for 39 years, said, “My feeling was don’t touch the offices—the offices work well as they are.

“One of the things that makes this a very unique school is we are available to you,” Ikenberry said. “To me, having a quiet place where I can grade papers and a kid can’t go is a little bit contrary to what I think makes the school so special.”

Junior Adina Siff, when told of the school’s plans, was concerned that teachers wouldn’t have enough room to do their work if their offices shrank: “They work so hard. They deserve enough space.”

Sophomore Posy Brown said in an interview that she is worried that the expansion would make the high school feel less personal. “When you walk in, you see the Forum, and it’s so crowded; it’s like this whole community,” Brown said, explaining her preference that the Forum not change.