EASTON — Another page of history at the Country School was written on May 30 during the groundbreaking for the school’s new building. Students were joined by parents, members of the Board of Trustees and local government officials to kick off the second phase of the Country School’s three-phase improvement project.
The short ceremony started off with remarks from Country School Headmaster Neil Mufson. He spoke about all the people who have been involved in the project and why everyone has been working so hard to make this dream a reality.
“All of you kids are what this is all about. This is why over the last two years, we’ve been working hard on plans to make possible, the best possible education spaces for you. We will start today ... and finish August 2019,” Mufson said. “We embarked on this program many months ago because we wanted to make sure that the spaces we have for learning are as excellent and as high and good quality as the high aspirations that we have for all of you kids.”
Plans for the new building have been in the works for more than four years. A group of trustees and faculty members joined together to discuss the future of the school and what they would like to see it become. Mufson said the changes to the school wouldn’t have been possible without the fundraising efforts.
“One of the key reasons we are able to be here today is about 250 donors decided to put into action the Country School value of generosity,” Mufson said. “Because of the generosity of more than 250 people, we’re here today. I can announce that these people have made gifts and pledges to the school totaling more than $9 million.”
There are three phases to the Country School project. The first is a parking lot adjacent to the school. Construction on this has already started and is currently on track, despite the rainy weather. The new lot will be available when school starts again this fall for parents and teachers to use.
The second phase is the upper school that will start construction in June. It will be a 12-15 month project and should be completed in time for school to start in 2019. The third phase of the project is the renovation of the current building that will take place during summer break next year. Everything will be ready for the 2019/2020 school year, said Board of Trustees President Justin Nonemaker.
“We wouldn’t be here today without the hundreds of donors that have stepped forward and made significant personal financial decisions to see this project through,” Nonemaker said. “Once this project is finished, we will have a new building, a renovated existing building and a new parking lot. This is all for the kids standing here and for the future generations of kids that will come through this school.”
After Mufson and Nonemaker’s short remarks, it was time for the groundbreaking ceremony. Ten students lined up with Mufson in front of a large box of dirt. Each of the children and Mufson had their own shovel and a hardhat to keep as a memento from the event.
Senator Addie Eckardt was on hand to witness this historic event, as was Mayor Robert Willey, Delegate Johnny Mautz and Delegate Christopher Adams.
“Certainly for this community at the Country School, this is a dream come true. They are very committed to providing a quality education for the students that come here,” Eckardt said. “Goldsborough Street is kind of the gateway to Easton. To have a beautiful, historic building that fits in with the theme of downtown Historic Easton I think is another bonus for all of us. Once you improve an area on one side of the street, the rest of it will follow suit and that’s what makes it very exciting.”
For the Country School students, the day’s festivities coincided with the last day of school. For some of the older students like eighth-grader John Hill, who participated in the groundbreaking, the excitement was two-fold.
“This has been a fun event because it marks the ending of my time here,” John said. “I came here in kindergarten and this is like a big send-off.”