Nan Stuart surprised, and was surprised, Saturday afternoon when her namesake building, Stuart Hall, was dedicated at Foxcroft School. After hearing how the making of the $10.3 million, 50-bed dormitory was used to educate 26 girls about design and construction, Stuart took the podium and said she would give scholarships to any of those students who decided to study architecture or engineering because of their experience.
“The great thing is the way the students were able to see and learn from the building as it went up,” said Stuart, a 1971 Foxcroft graduate and current trustee. “If any of those girls decide to study engineering, architecture or architectural engineering because of what they did, I will provide the funds.”
A collective gasp of stunned delight went through the assembled crowd before the students, alumnae, family, faculty, and friends erupted with applause and cheers – and Stuart added, “And I hereby dedicate this building. I commend the Board and school leaders for having the guts to build now.”
Many people contributed to the creation of Foxcroft’s first new dormitory in more than 40 years -- over 100 names were listed on the back of the program. Foxcroft Head of School Mary Louise Leipheimer thanked them all for their generosity and noted that the dedication of the dorm on the eve of the School's Centennial Celebration Kickoff made it a special thrill.
She then turned the tables on Stuart, surprising her erstwhile English student with a portrait of her and her dogs. The painting, created by the parent of a recent graduate, Deb Cadenas of Middleburg, will hang in the entrance lobby of the dormitory. Stuart received a “study” to take home to Longmont, CO.
Earlier, Dr. Maria Eagen, Chair of Foxcroft’s Science Department, and Vivian T., a senior from Taipei and Student Head of School, spoke about the educational opportunities to which Stuart referred when making her stunning offer of college scholarships.
“The construction of Stuart Hall afforded us a unique opportunity to educate and inspire our students,” said Eagen of Project Green Build, the living learning program led by the project engineers and architects through which 26 students learned all aspects of creating such a building. “Our students learned about topics from footers to finishing touches and everything in between. The inspiring part is that they learned by doing. They went outside and dug footers, laid brick, and toured the construction site. . . It was outstanding.”
Clifton “Chip” R. Gruver, Jr., chair of the Board’s Building and Grounds Committee, thanked the architects, Hord Coplan Macht; contractors Forrester Construction Company of Rockville, MD, and Business Manager Deborah Anderson for their hard work and dedication to the project. “I am proud to report that this building was completed on schedule, on budget, and with no debt,” Gruver said. “Which is phenomenal.”
Rev. Robert L. Banse, Jr., of Trinity Church in Upperville, VA, gave an eloquent blessing, asking among other things that the dormitory’s hallways be constantly filled with laughter, anger and tears be met with with compassion, and “When conversations turn to the subject of boys, horses, the meaning of life, or any other topic of major import, clear and honest truth and wisdom prevail.”
Following the ceremony, all present were invited to tour the 26,000-square-ft. building -- Foxcroft's third new building in five years and first “LEED-certified “green” edifice. Stuart Hall uses geothermal wells for efficient heating and cooling, and regional and recycled materials for many of its components. An interactive “energy dashboard” that was created by students working with Lucid Technology and Anderson hangs in the front hall, enabling students and visitors to monitor the building’s water and power use, and the local weather. It also has information about Foxcroft’s green practices, tips for going green, and a video about how the Foxcroft Go Green logo came into being.
Founded in 1914, Foxcroft School (www.foxcroft.org ) is a college-preparatory boarding and day school for girls in grades 9-12 located in Middleburg VA. Its 2013-14 student body is comprised of 165 girls from 21 states and the District of Columbia, and nine foreign countries. About one-third of the students receive financial assistance. Foxcroft offers 75 courses, including 15 Advanced Placement classes and an innovative STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) program. It fields athletic teams in nine sports, including a nationally-known riding program and state finalist field hockey and lacrosse teams. The 36 members of the Class of 2013 were offered 139 acceptances and nearly $1.2 million in merit scholarships from 100 colleges and universities in the U.S., England, France and Scotland, including Barnard, Cornell, UCLA, Washington & Lee, and Virginia.