Tailgate To Kick Off Lower School Campaign

“Coming soon… or sooner with your help.”

So read the signs posted around the gravel parking lot, which feature color illustrations of the future Cantrell Lower School’s facade.

Just like the sign says, the Cantrell Lower School is on track to break ground by the beginning of the 2015 school year, according to Head of School Dr. Robert Veto, who said that the school has already raised about $2 million of its $4.5 million goal.

Although school officials spent the past year raising money in what they called the “silent phase” of the capital campaign, now that they are approaching the halfway mark the fundraising will enter its public phase on Friday with a tailgate and barbecue on the gravel parking lot — the future site of the new school building — before the home football game against the Wesleyan School.

School officials have pitched the new building as a boon not just for the lower school, but the entire Stratford community.

“The new lower school will solve problems for all three divisions of Stratford,” Veto said in an interview last week.

The new building will replace the current lower school, which was originally designed as a temporary facility and is now so overcrowded that the 5th grade currently occupies a hallway in the upper school.

But the building will offer more than just a bigger space, according Director of Development Ms. Kathleen Medlin.

“This building will be uniquely built to ensure every classroom has outside access or a window, a high quality interior, smartboards in every room, more space than the previous lower school rooms, and the latest technology available,” Medlin said. “In these new designs, there will also be a lunchroom, more storage, a single secure entrance, and a courtyard in the center of the design.”

A tentative blueprint for the Cantrell Lower School Building (Image provided by Ms. Kathleen Medlin).

According to Medlin, the building will be modeled similar to the science building, which features wide hallways, high ceilings, and polished top-quality finishings.

About $3.2 million of the funds raised through the capital campaign will be spent on the new lower school building itself, Medlin said.

The remainder will be spent on new parking, constructing a new lower school pick-up, and refurbishing the old lower school. That refurbishment will include expanding the “little gym” and adding coach’s offices, multi-purpose rooms, locker rooms, an art room, and a music room.

The new lower school also will free up space in existing buildings, including four classrooms in the upper school.

If fundraising remains on track,  Veto said that construction is tentatively scheduled to be completed in time to welcome lower schoolers into the new facility in August 2016.