EASTON — The Country School unveiled its renovated campus in a ribbon cutting ceremony to an audience of donors, elected officials, faculty, friends and students on Monday morning, Sept. 9.
The 18-month major expansion project resulted in a new 22,000-square-foot Upper School building and about 30,000 square feet of renovated space in the previously existing Lower School building. There is an additional soccer practice field, too.
Construction enlarged classroom space, designated areas for science and STEAM (science, tech, engineering, art and math) classrooms, though STEAM space was put in for all grades. The Upper School building also houses new science labs for grades five through eight.
The Country School opened a pre-K program this fall as well.
The school’s parking lot was remodeled to provide about 40% more parking space and a new exit-only route was put in place in an effort to ease traffic congestion on Goldsborough Street.
A construction worker told The Country School Headmaster Neil Mufson the project “was ambitious because a building like this is all hand made. Mufson thought the wording was appropriate because “a Country School Education is also handmade, personal, devoted and possible because of all teachers and staff.”
Board of Trustees President Justin Nonemaker praised the area’s “disproportionate amount of generous people,” especially when it comes to funding capital campaigns for the many local nonprofits.
Nonemaker thanked Willow Construction and Rubeling & Associates architects for completing the “seemingly impossible job.”
“Not only have they succeeded but it’s beautiful and our kids can start school,” he said.
He also gave deep thanks for Mufson and his vision for the school over the last 30 years.
Mufson will retire after the 2019-2020 school year. He came to The Country School as a 32-year-old graduate of Brown University. In Mufson’s 30-year tenure, The Country School has grown its endowment from $150,000 to $9 million and completed three capital campaigns totaling nearly $15 million.
“If you are here today it’s because you have helped make this project happen. You have either helped create the vision with your ideas, made the vision possible by your generosity or done the hard work to transform the vision into reality,” Mufson said on Monday morning.
“I’m thrilled to welcome such a large crowd today. You all prove that together people can accomplish far more powerful things than any one person can make happen alone.”
Among the crowd stood Town of Easton Mayor Bob Willey, State Sen. Addie Eckardt, R-37-Mid-Shore; Del. Chris Adams, R-37B-Wicomico and Del. Johnny Mautz, R-37B-Talbot.
Mufson said the project’s origins date to 2014 when a group of faculty members, trustees, parents and friends of the school got together to create a strategic plan called “Starting Right Here.’
The project began public phases of its fundraising campaign in November of 2017, raising more than $9.3 million.
“At its heart, the plan called for a school whose spaces would enable 21st century learning rather than constrain it,” Mufson said. “It was a plan that said ‘it was our time.’”
“It was a plan that said it was our time as the current generation of The Country School family to pay forward all that prior families had made possible through their past generosity. It was our time to dig deep and create spaces that more closely reflected our aspirations for our children.”
The school headmaster said he “fervently hoped that the distinctive features of this school will always remain the culture, atmosphere, dynamism and efforts to partner with parents to help develop good people.”
Children of the McWilliams family (donors of the project) were called forward to initiate the first official ringing of the school’s bell. Attendees were then invited to take tours of the building.