The student voice of St. George's Independent School.

Phase one is complete

New building plans are coming along

Photo: Jacob Peeples

Last year’s Gryphon Gazette article frames the future site of the new fine arts building. Although the school does not have a set date for the building’s completion, phase one of the construction has been completed.

Jacob Peeples, Staff Writer

In February of 2015, The Gryphon Gazette ran a story about the proposed new arts building on the Collierville campus with the title “It’s Happening!” Though the school no longer has a firm date for when the building will be completed, phase one of the construction was completed this January.

“That headline was premature,” Director of Advancement Jay Philpott said. “[It] is a little bit like when President, or non-president, Dewey held up the headline ‘Dewey Wins’ and he didn’t win.” However, significant progress has been made in terms of construction.

When students arrived back from winter break this January, they were greeted with new landscaping. With the parking lot finished and the trees planted, the first phase of a multi-phase plan to add new structures to the St. George’s Collierville campus is officially complete.

“They put in all the utilities for the Performing Arts Center,” Mr. Philpott said. “They piped in all the utilities right under the ground for future academic building expansion in addition to the parking lot expansion.”

Many students in the fine arts have been anticipating the new building for some time now. A large group of arts students have felt that they have been put on the backburner in the past in terms of a building dedicated to the arts.

“The performing arts is currently confined to two spaces in the academic building,” senior Sutton Hewitt said. “I think that if the school wants to grow in its art department, we are going to need more art classrooms and more resources for students to use.”

Noah Woods also spoke on the benefits of having a theater on the Collierville campus as opposed to solely the Performing Arts Center at the Germantown campus.

“It will help the theater department and students who want to be in productions but cannot always make it to the Germantown campus for a rehearsal,” senior Noah Woods said.

This planned addition puts the arts among the school’s top priorities, which will hopefully attract more students. Mr. Philpott said that this space has always been on the school’s agenda.

“It has always been on the need list,” Mr. Philpott said. “People knew band should not be under the eighth-grade English classroom. It has always been a plan to move those instruction spaces out of where they are and create the synergy and energy that comes when all those classrooms are together.”

Future phases of construction include creating two new buildings, where new plumbing was placed during this year’s renovations, located near the middle school and Agape Chapel.

These upcoming construction phases will require the support of many donors, as it is a multi-million dollar endeavor. The fine arts add-on will cost nearly $2.4 million to complete, while the anticipated performing arts center will cost between six and nine million dollars.

“It is a choice we would have to make based on what we raise, and we have to fully fund a project to begin to undertake a project,” Mr. Philpott said. While the Advancement Office is fundraising for these new arts buildings, current buildings will be undergoing renovations.

The renovations should occur before the creation of the new building, as acquiring the funds for the new buildings will take some time whereas the renovations are relatively inexpensive.

“If you build a new building, it’s $2.4 million in our case,” Mr. Philpott said. “But, we renovated the room across from Mrs. Bina Young’s classroom, which used to be a faculty work room, and when we converted that into a classroom, it was $18,000.”

The faculty and administrators understand how many students feel in regards to waiting for a fine arts building and sympathize with them.

“I know the wait is frustrating.” Mr. Philpott said. “I joined the school in 2002 knowing that I wanted that space for our students, so I want it here, too.”

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