By Alex Sanyal
While the students and faculty enjoyed their summer holidays, the Upper School underwent minor renovations. The projects replaced lighting in the theater, repaired the north entrance of the Main Building, built an additional counselor office, and upgraded several classrooms, the Community Room, the second floor bathrooms, and the north stairwell.
These facility changes aimed to improve the quality of the rooms in the Main Building and to provide space for a new counselor that joined the BB&N faculty this fall.
“The facilities crew has been hard at work trying to make these improvements for us all,” said Upper School Director Geoffrey Theobald. “It is always fun to return from a break to discover the changes that have been made to the building.”
The renovations started a few weeks into summer break and were completed before the start of the fall semester, costing approximately $250,000 in total.
A major change was the addition of a new counselor office to the Main Building. The new counselor will have a half-time position to help with the counseling needs of the Upper School due to the expansion of the student body since Upper School Counselor Douglas Neuman started at BB&N nine years ago.
“Unlike an intern, the new counselor will step right in and be able to work with students, advisors, and the peer counseling program,” said Mr. Neuman. “I was very excited to hear that the school had been able to create a new office for her, and I think her proximity to me, Nurse Julie, and the Academic Support Center is a huge plus and the obvious place for her to be.”
The Arts Department was revamped as well. Staging spotlights and dimmers in the Upper School theater that have been used for the past fifteen years of school productions have been replaced. These upgrades will move the dimmers from backstage, protecting them from dust pollution and also providing more space for actors and technicians to move around during performances. The renovation will eliminate tangles of connecting wires (known to stage crews as “spaghetti”) and provide higher quality dimmers that, according to Theater Designer and Production Coordinator Eugene Warner, will “translate into significant savings on the cost of materials and labor and look to be around a quarter of what might be expected for a conventional installation” by using previously installed circuitry.
“As you might imagine in the world of electronics upgrades happen frequently,” Mr. Warner said. “While the existing equipment is still functioning it has far outlived its expected lifetime. With the upgrade we will not only be achieving more reliability with our equipment but a higher degree of safety.”
According to Mr. Warner, one of the most exciting theater innovations will be the inclusion of LED [light emitting diode] lighting fixtures in the spotlight inventory that Mr. Warner described as “solar panel cells in reverse that take energy and convert it to light. They are the wave of the future for all residential and commercial lighting [and will provide] energy savings, greener technology, and a significant reduction in lamp replacements.”
This sustainable action goes hand in hand with energy saving efforts attempted by the Green Cup Challenge last year. The new LED lights will offer more choice in the color and shape of lights, improve efficiency, and benefit the student stage crew and the actors themselves. “These upgrades will go a long way in improving learning, safety, efficiency, and the quality of our productions,” said Mr. Warner.
More minor changes were made throughout the school: carpets and furniture were replaced in several classrooms, the second floor bathrooms were repaired, and the Community Room was upgraded and remodeled with fixed tables and added carpeting. The outside steps and wall on the north entrance to the Main Building were repaired and replaced, and the north stairwell inside the Main Building was updated with hopes to make travel between classes easier for students and faculty.