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Principal David Ball ’88 Describes Plans for Milton’s Campus

Principal David Ball ’88 Describes Plans for Milton’s Campus

Two characteristics of learning are fundamental to a Milton education. As graduates can attest, Milton students explore and discover; each finds a distinctive voice and discerns a daring vision. They also forge enduring connections with peers and teachers, transformative bonds across culture, class and country. That’s the power of Milton: the power of the individual mind and the power of a connected community.

These enduring elements of a Milton experience now drive a series of interconnected changes to the core of the Upper School, changes that will affirm the centrality of both shared experience and intellectual exploration. More than ever, the heart of the campus will embody what lies at the heart of a Milton education.

The project begins with an expansion of the Schwarz Student Center, a space that has proven transformative since its opening, in 2004. To underscore the importance of connections, the Office of Multiculturalism and Community Development will move from a basement corner in Wigglesworth Hall to a larger space in the heart of the student center. Now, when students enter the ground floor of the student center, this office will greet them, an unmistakable sign of our commitment to an inclusive school community. Then, to their right, students will see a newly central community engagement office, visible affirmation of Milton’s relationships with those beyond our campus. A three-story expansion on the east side of the building, between a renovated and more open student activities office and the entrance to our admission office, will also provide an additional 4,400 square feet for informal student gatherings and active group study, relieving congestion during the busiest moments of our school day and providing greater flexibility for communal gathering. At other times, including in the evening, this vibrant social space will allow students to interact and learn together in groups. We recognize the value of collaboration around the Harkness table and in the lab; that power should extend beyond our classrooms.

This enlarged student center will provide one enhanced venue for learning, including spaces designed for collaboration. A subsequent move of Milton’s library to Wigglesworth Hall, connected to the student center, will provide another. In this era of constant, lightning-speed information, it is vital that we celebrate all that libraries offer our students. The quiet of a library permits deep reflection, spurring enduring understanding, while each book invites a student to see the world in a new way. Transcendent moments in learning often start with a task that challenges students to become explorers, to discover—on their own—a new world. All who love the act of making meaning—starting in one direction, meeting a dead end, and discerning another direction—find tremendous power in the library, which will now lie at the heart of one of Milton’s iconic academic buildings.

This move will bring a range of programmatic benefits. By pairing Milton’s library with the history department in a single building, the renovation will create a new campus research hub. The integration of discovery and discussion will extend to the English department, too. No longer will Centre Street separate the library’s texts from the Warren Hall classrooms where students examine them. Finally, the renovation will provide the Academic Skills Center, long in the basement of the existing Cox Library, with a new home on the Centre Street level of Wigglesworth Hall. This vital resource, no longer tucked away, will, like the new library, live at the core of the Upper School.

On its own, each of these enhancements reflects Milton’s values: our commitment to community, our belief in individual voices, our faith in our students’ capabilities. Together, they do more. Now they will move seamlessly from one mode of learning to the next. During the academic day, for example, students can move from lively discussion in Warren Hall classrooms to informal conversations between boarding and day students in the student center, from intense exploration of a text to productive, collaborative work. In the evening, students can gather in the student center to prepare a presentation and, that task complete, they can find quiet spots in the adjacent library to craft an essay or conduct research. Day and night, these buildings will hum.

How, then, will we use the newly vacated Cox building? At long last, Milton’s Upper School math department will have its own dedicated space. A thoughtful renovation will allow math to move from the fourth floor of Ware Hall to this highly visible, central space, the kind of space it deserves. Just as the Pritzker Science Center so beautifully displays scientific inquiry, a light-filled, open space will celebrate our students’ exploration of mathematics in group settings and in bright new classrooms. In addition, a new entrance on the west side of the building will allow students to move from Ware and the Art and Media Center to the Kellner Performing Arts Center and Pritzker. Not just a destination for math students, this building will become the bridge connecting all the academic disciplines located on the south side of Centre Street.

Each step in this progression—a sequence that will ultimately create much-needed space for the modern language department and the Middle School in Ware Hall—will allow future generations of students to learn in spaces that reflect the best of Milton, both past and present.

by David Ball ’88, Upper School principal

Milton Academy’s board of trustees has approved a funding plan for these projects to support the transformation of Milton’s campus. Fundraising is a critical component. Alumni, parents and other friends of Milton interested in learning more about how our vision for facilities will reflect the quality of our program should contact Chief Advancement Officer Lisa Winick at 617-898-2305.

The Community Issue

What do we owe to one another, our communities, and the world? In this issue, we take a look at what “community” means to Milton and the ways in which the school goes beyond the jargon to create genuine, mutually beneficial, lasting connections.