Elevating Academics Campaign

New Academic Building Groundbreaking

The cold and wet early May weather did not daunt joyful spirits as Holderness held a special groundbreaking assembly to mark the start of a new academic chapter in the school's history. The entire school gathered inside Hagerman along with the Board of Trustees and special guests to initiate the new academic building. Board Chair Bob Hall, Head of School Phil Peck, School President Dylan DeVries '19 and STEMinist Carolyn Fernandes '20 offered remarks in honor of the occasion. Plenty of singing marked the event featuring former Music Director Dave Lockwood and the HolderNotes directed by current Music Director Alec Sisco. Outside at the new building site and in torrential rain, various representatives with shovels and hard hats formally broke ground! Read below for the remarks shared by Phil Peck and Carolyn Fernandes' 20.
Remarks by Phil Peck

Let me start by saying thank you. What started years ago as a need for more lab space became a teaching and learning journey. Thanks to the evolution of a dream, to the evolution of what learning at Holderness looks like, we stand ready to embark upon a new chapter in the history of Holderness School. This willingness to explore possibility was matched by an uncommon generosity. We are most fortunate to have stewards for Holderness’ future who believe in this small and mighty school and extended their belief into historical gifts. At no time in Holderness history have we been more humbled by the goodwill and motivating generosity of our donors. So thank you -- thank you to our dreamers and planners who asked bigger questions. And thank you to our donors who believe in those dreams!

I’d like to frame my remarks today around the concept of becoming. Educational philosopher, social activist, and herself my former teacher, Maxine Greene aptly considers education to be “a constant state of becoming.” She once said “I am who I am not yet.” These simple words have rich meaning and suit our purpose today as we break ground for a new academic building.  

This new building and our ceremonious act of breaking ground to mark the beginning of a 20-month construction period is about possibility. For months, we’ve imagined the future. We know that the cornerstones for this new academic chapter will evolve around flexibility, innovation, collaboration, and bringing the outdoors into our learning. We know that the new lab spaces, meeting spaces, teaching and learning spaces will foster deep engagement and facilitate learning by doing and also inspire critical reflection.

Our planning process, facilitated mightily by alumnus, trustee, and architect Rob Kinsley has been about envisioning possibility. Our educators have imagined what the future looks like by considering the essential question -- How do we create learning environments that are provocative, relevant, and sustaining? That one, open question has summoned us here today. Today we sit at the nexus of knowledge, dreaming, and now action. Today we ponder the future. Today we mark the beginning of becoming.

It is fitting that we focus on verbs, on action. Holderness is a place for action.  This is a place where we train for life, where we are constantly in a state of becoming. We find joy in that act of striving.  Striving in the classrooms -- in Ms. Nielson’s AP French class, in Ms. Mulcahey’s Algebra 2 class, or working with Mr. Pfenninger’s in Robotics. We find that joy on the Hagerman stage, at the potter’s wheel or feeling the satisfaction of outrunning an opponent and mastering the perfect stick maneuver to place the ball into the lacrosse net. We find joy in the doing, in the learning.

This new building helps us focus on a curriculum that is more about the verbs, about the practice, about the becoming. Today’s verbs might be researching, prototyping, experimenting, systems-thinking, and collaborating and while we don’t know what those verbs will be in twenty years, we do know that we need a place and people who will steward new thinking, new action.

At Holderness, we frame all that we do around mind, body, and spirit. This is full and robust engagement that moves us to be human-centered and other-centered. In designing this building as in the designing of our ever-evolving curriculum, we understand the importance of a rich and stimulating learning space.
  • This building will allow for uninhibited learning with multiple and flexible settings
  • This building will be a space, space for creativity,
  • This building will be a space for collaboration.
  • And this building will capture our majestic setting in the White Mountains and bring it in.
  • This building will be a dynamic learning space for students and teachers to always be growing, learning, and thus leading.  
Simply put, this new building will foster becoming.

Remarks by Women in STEM club president Carolyn Fernandes '20

Hi I’m Carolyn Fernandes and I’m the president of the women in STEM club.  STEM represents: Science, technology, engineering, and math. The Steminists are a relatively new organization here on campus.  The club was started 3 years ago by a passionate young woman who saw a deficit here at Holderness and decided she wanted to make a difference at the school.  The club is a safe place for female students to discuss topics relevant to Holderness and also universal topics such as climate change and recycling and what changes our school can make to help the world.  Our club welcomes all students and boys are always encouraged to join us and offer their perspective on Women in Stem.

The Steminists continue to use this original passion to try and implement and work on small things that make differences for all females who want to pursue STEM.  For example, twice a month the STEMinists and I travel to Thornton Central School to host experiments with the girls there and engage them in STEM and create a safe environment for them to learn.  We are hoping to expand this outreach and try and see more girls next year.

Now, it is great that the Holderness Community understands this need for increasing our understanding and expertise in the fields of STEM with the new expansion and new facility.  This new building will continue to create opportunities for all students in STEM fields like never before. By having the kinds of spaces the new building offers, the STEMinsits and I will have spaces to work, talk, and experiment with the community we have created.  The future is ours!


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Holderness School
33 Chapel Lane, Holderness, NH 03245
mail P.O Box 1879 Plymouth, NH 03264-1879
phone (603) 536-1257