On the verge of completing its newest building, the Davis Academy has a clear goal for the upcoming year: growth.
The latest addition to the Reform day school sits in the space once occupied by the lower school cafeteria. It is to feature a 600-seat theater, among other rooms.
The groundbreaking was held in February, and the building is on track to be finished in December and unveiled in January. Though still a work in progress, the possibilities are endless for the theater, Associate Head of School Drew Frank said. In the immediate future, the school’s spring musical and graduation ceremony will take place there, and Frank said TEDed and TEDx events might even be on the horizon.
While the theater is the most striking feature of the new building, it includes a number of new rooms for students, including spaces for video editing, music and prayer.
“We’ve had a number of rooms that we’ve used for years that have done a fine job,” Frank said. “Those rooms were not specifically designed with those functions in mind, and now we’re getting to create unique spaces.”
He said he’s excited about the new idea lab. “It is a room with a concrete floor, ductwork exposed. Kids can get in there and do woodshop of old and tinkering, coding, soldering of new. It will be a beautifully messy place.”
In addition to the new education spaces, the building features a kitchen for made-from-scratch meals. Davis has had a questionable reputation for its lunch service, something Frank is well aware of. The new kitchen will be run by Sage Dining Services,
The building is the product of a campaign to raise $7.5 million. The foundation and basic structure are complete, and internal walls and structures are being finalized. The building is far from finished, but the vision for the space is evident after only a few minutes inside.
It doesn’t take long to see how excited the administrators are about the expansion; it’s their focus as they gear up for the back-to-school season. Though the new school year is not bringing too many other changes, Frank said one goal is to focus on creating one community across its two campuses, which are about a half-mile apart.
“We made a conscious effort about two years ago to move toward K-8 administrative roles,” Frank said. “It’s been a really nice fit. Last year we expanded the all-school Kabbalat Shabbats. This year we’re looking at ways to bring individual grades or classes down here (to the lower school) for individual mentoring or leading the lower school students.”
In addition, Rabbi Micah Lapidus is producing the school’s third album. The previous albums included a number of prayers set to contemporary tunes, arranged by Rabbi Lapidus.
“We’re always trying to evolve,” Frank said. “I think a lot of this is about looking to the future. We now have this space that presents all kinds of opportunities. We could bring in a keynote speaker for a conference down the road. Not that our facility ever lacked, but having that theater space opens a number of doors for us.”
Going into its 24th year, Davis shows no signs of slowing down as its evolution continues.
“There will be a lot that changes between the beginning of the year and the end of the year,” Frank said. “For example, we’ll start the year with everyone bringing lunches and eating off plastic tables in what used to be a classroom and end the year with a beautiful new cafeteria and food made from scratch.”