Our intrepid voyagers in English 9 capped their reading of West with the Night (1942), Beryl Markham’s memoir of her adventures in British East Africa, with an expedition to the peak of that newly minted landmass in the middle of our campus construction site. The elevation provided a unique perspective for reflection on the nature of territorial discovery, colonialism, ownership, and, ultimately, the place of our school in the history of Northwest Arkansas. Who held this land before Thaden School? Does our ownership carry with it a public obligation? How can we put our campus to use as a resource for the greater good?
This last question has been much on my mind as we continue to advance our campus plan
. While student safety and security are always paramount, we also aspire to create a welcoming school that will serve as a place for community engagement and enrichment, true its history
as the home of the Benton County fair for more than 80 years. For example, we will situate and renovate the historic Thaden home with an eye toward its potential as a space for public gatherings, not far from the movie lawn on the eastern side of the Reels building. Similarly, our performing arts center and the cycle fabrication spaces in the Wheels building will be oriented toward Main Street so that they may serve as platforms for community connection on the western edge of campus.
And in this spirit, I am delighted to announce that we have just received a special grant from the Walton Family Foundation
to support the design and construction of a bike skills park on our East Campus. As a school and community resource, the park will offer a variety of opportunities for riders of all levels to develop their skills and test their mettle over mixed terrain. Thaden’s bike park will also include learning spaces where our students may conduct observations and gather data for projects in our Wheels program and other courses. In view of this opportunity, we are now working with our design team to refine the functionality and features of The Barn so that it will be closely integrated into the life of the bike park.
At the same time, our project management team is working diligently to ensure that our first permanent structures on the West Campus will be finished during the coming academic year. The site work is now complete for the Home building (central dining), the Reels building (classrooms and offices), the C Street Pavilion (the main drop-off area), The Barn, and Thaden House. Steel frames will soon begin to rise from our West Campus, and if the timeline holds, the Meals and Reels buildings will be ready in January and March of 2019, respectively. The greater community will be able to follow our progress on our social media channels
as we build a campus that will advance our mission as a private school with a public purpose.
In the words of Albert Einstein, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”